Christo Brand was born the son of a farm foreman in South Africa's Western Cape. He spent his early years playing with black and mixed-race children and knew little about the cruel Apartheid regime that prevailed elsewhere in the country. Conscripted to the military at age 18, Brand elected not to join the notoriously brutal police or army. He trained instead as a prison guard and was assigned to Robben Island to guard the most dangerous men in South Africa - Nelson Mandela and his fellow revolutionaries.
Against all odds, Brand and Mandela formed a lasting friendship. Brand helped Mandela bend the prison's rules and endure it's hardships while Mandela took an active interest in the younger man's emerging family and career, continuing to act as mentor and friend long after his release.
Today Christo Brand still works at Robben Island, now a World Heritage Site. There he manages the museum bookstore and patiently recounts his experiences to thousands of visitors each year.