Principal of St Peter’s Palmerston Nth has treasured link to Mandela

David Olivier, principal of St Peter’ College in Palmerston North, New Zealand  was once the principal of Christian Brothers’ College Mount Edmund in Pretoria, located just 1 kilometre from the state president’s residence.

He has a personally signed copy of ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’.

His wife bought it for him as a Father’s Day gift when she was working as a school nurse at St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls in Pretoria.

”Mandela’s granddaughter was at the school and she saw it sitting on my wife’s desk and asked why it was there.”

”She took it home and he signed it for me.”

On the day of Mandela’s famous inauguration in 1994, between 100 and 150 of Olivier’s students were used as ushers for the celebration. 

This was done in recognition of the Catholic school’s decision to open their doors to all races after the Soweto uprising in 1976.

”After we opened doors in 76, we were directly targeted by the state,” Olivier said.

”None of the state schools would play sport against my college and the government was actively working to shut down Catholic schools in the 80s and early 90s, until the whole mood changed with Mandela.” 



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