Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Meeting Mandela

Mandela's in the UK and if you're one of the attendants to his 'brai', you'll be searching for the official photographer for that picture to occupy your mantle and make all your freinds jealous.

Here's my story.

It was the annual Foreign Correspondent's Club meeting in Jouhannesburg. I'd just finished a good run of programmes and with my colleague and good friend, former head of CNN for Africa, Edward Boateng, made our way to the dinner.

I'm chatting animatedly to guests, when a deafly silence falls on the hall.

There in the distance is a slow moving throng of people. Like a Mexican wave slowed down, people begin to rise.

Then slowly perceptibly he appears OMG.

It is Nelson Mandela. He is heading straight for our table. His side-person another official looks at us, recognises Edward and then he stops.

Believe me an hour could have passed.

And this is David who (mumble lost words) the United States of Africa, says Edward, as Mr Mandela's hands extend.

Flash thoughts. How long do I shake for; how firm should I be?

I needn't have worried. I tipped my head, gave a feeble: "hello", and a fleshy soft palm shake.

Then I noticed the photographer and flashed him a pressed eye look. The one that says, "Yes what are you waiting for? Damn it. Flash, Flash, Flash".

He looked back at me and geustured:"No film!"

And that was that! I looked at my palm for a couple of seconds and for a couple of days did not wash it ( no, actually course I didn't , c'mon) but it's quite a thought.

Good luck if you find yourself in a similar situation. Mind you now cam-phones are the rage.

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