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Recollections of a Communicator: My short interaction with Nelson Mandela

By I. Ramamohan Rao, New Delhi, Dec.6 : As Principal Information Officer of the Government of India, I have had the good fortune of meeting many world leaders during their visits to India, or during visits of Indian Prime Ministers abroad.


What is still vivid in my mind is my short interaction with former South African President Nelson Mandela, first at Windhoek on the occasion of the independence of Namibia in 1990 along with then Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh, and next when I atteneded the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at Harare in Zimbabwe in 1991.

The meeting at Windhoek was held in the midst of tight security, but at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, Nelson Mandela was a celebrity.

What was remarkable was that Mandela, who was a invitee at the conference, was unassuming and met people informally and interacted with them.

I had the opportunity of shaking hands with Mandela and introduced myself as the spokesman of the India delegation and an admirer of African Gandhi.

He asked me to sit down and told me that India had done a great deal for the independence of South Africa, and he himself had learnt a great deal from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.

Among my proud possessions is a photograph that was taken when I met Mandela.

I delved into my library when I heard of the passing away of Bharat Ratna Nelson Mandela this morning.

I. Ramamohan Rao is a former Principal Information Officer of the Government of India and now Chief Editor of ANI.

--ANI (Posted on 06-12-2013)

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