“After becoming president, I once asked some members of my close protection to walk with me around the city, to have lunch in one of its restaurants. We sat in one of the restaurants in the city centre and all asked for food. After a while the waiter brought us our requests, I noticed that there is someone sitting in front of my table waiting for food.
I then said to one of the soldiers: “Go ask this person to join us with his food and eat with us.”
The soldier went to ask the man. The man brought his food and sat next to me while I asked him and started eating.
His hands were constantly shaking until everyone finished their meal and the man left.
The soldier said to me: “The man was apparently very ill. His hands were shaking while he ate!”
“No, not at all,” Mandela said. “This man was the guard of the prison where I was imprisoned. Often, after the torture I suffered, I would scream and ask for some water. The same man would come every time and urinated on my head. So I found him frightened, trembling, expecting me to reciprocate, at least in the same way, either by torturing him or by imprisoning him as I am now the President of the State of South Africa. But that’s not my character or part of my ethic. The mentality of reprisals destroys states, while the mentality of tolerance builds nations.”