Later this month (June 2012) Wales Millennium Centre will welcome the return of Cape Town Opera with the European Première of Mandela Trilogy – a musical tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela. To celebrate the première, Wales Millennium Centre is asking members of the public to share with them their stories, memories and photos of Nelson Mandela’s momentous visit to Cardiff in 1998 where he received the Freedom of the City.

Were you there? We want to hear your story

On 16 June 1998 one of the world’s most respected statesmen, Nelson Mandela, visited Cardiff on the final day of the European Summit. He was invited to Cardiff Castle where he received the Freedom of the City. Large crowds gathered in the castle grounds to greet the president.  Prior to the ceremony, he met with the thousands that had gathered, shaking their hands and even took time to sing with a group of local schoolchildren. His visit to Wales generated huge public interest, with hundreds of requests for tickets to the freedom ceremony.

When the call for the international isolation of apartheid went out to the world, the people of Wales responded magnificently,” Mandela, 1998

John Wilkins, who was a singer in a choir who performed from Mandela on that day remembers, “1998 was a memorable year for the Cardiff Ardwyn Singers. During April the choir toured South Africa and included was a visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was unjustly imprisoned for 18 years. There we saw his small cell where a blanket on the concrete floor was his bed and a bucket was his toilet.  On our return to Cardiff we were invited to sing at Cardiff Castle when he received the Freedom of the City. We performed African songs and Nelson Mandela smiled and danced to the music. He was introduced to us and expressed his delight at hearing songs that were so familiar.”

Do you recall his visit to Cardiff in 1998 where he received the freedom of the city? Share your stories with us.  Send your memories to or post them on Wales Millennium Centre’s Facebook page and Twitter (@theCentre) tagging them #mandela3.

The best stories will be projected on to the Centre’s icon wall overlooking the Glanfa Stage on the opening night of Mandela Trilogy. Contributors of the best recollections will also be invited to the première of the Mandela Trilogy on 20 June.

The Mandela Trilogy will be performed at Wales Millennium Centre on 20-21 June.  Cape Town Opera will also perform Porgy & Bess on 23-24 June.  For tickets visit