Sunday, 30 June 2013


To say that Nelson Mandela is important to Africans is a wild understatement. He is not only the greatest living African, but he may be the greatest African who has ever lived and one of the world's greatest men. I'm not going to spend a lot of time justifying that statement,  there are smarter people than me writing books to that effect right now. Sufficed to say that rebel leaders are ten-a-penny, it doesn't take so very much to smash something that is rotten from the inside. To rebuild it however,  to pull peace from chaos, to drag justice from terror and hatred takes true greatness.
I lived in Arusha in northern Tanzania some years ago. A place named "The Geneva of Africa" by Bill Clinton. The peace talks for Burundi were ongoing at the time. President Mandela was using his considerable influence to move things forward.
I was walking down the street next to the conference building one day when a car pulled out in front of me and paused before turning onto the main road. I glanced at the passenger in the back seat and made eye contact with Nelson Mandela. I had just about the good sense to not stare dumbly at him,  I waved. He waved back.

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