Tampa woman recalls meeting Mandela - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa woman recalls meeting Mandela

Tampa woman recalls meeting Mandela

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Nelson Mandela has spent another day in the hospital where he's been since early Saturday, receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection.

A Tampa Bay woman is recalling her moments with the former South African president. Jeradline Williams never expected to meet Mandela, let alone plan a Christmas party at his home.

"We had a delightful experience with him," she said.

Williams lived in South Africa from 1994 to 2000. She initially moved to the country to help poor children in Soweto.

She is honored to have had the chance to meet and dine with the now 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon.

"I saw more than I expected to see," she said.

What she says she witnessed, was three men in one: the country's newly elected leader; a man revered by his people and a man who could interract incredibly well with children.

"What I saw was - he saw in them, what he once was and they saw in him, what they could become," she said.

Williams is writing a book about her South African experience. It's tentatively titled, "Ms. Adventure meets Mandela, Mandela, Mandela."

Wednesday marked the 49th anniversary of the 1964 sentencing of Mandela to life in prison. He spent 27 years there for his fight against apartheid. Later in 1994 he became president of South Africa.

Williams said watching his declining health now sparks memories of the change he ushered into the country.

"Coming from America, I had a hard time with his capacity to forgive," she said.

That's the legacy he will leave, she said.

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