On Tuesday, as world leaders and tens of thousands of South Africans gathered in a giant stadium to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry faced off against his political foes in a much smaller arena: the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
If Obama, Cameron and Thorning -Schmidt were inspired to whip out their camera phones and start clicking away then why wasn't Naomi Campbell somewhere in that stadium, in full hair and make up, being held aloft in front of a wind machine by Bono and Charlize Theron?
On books As I get older, I tend to read very old books. Centuries old. Modern writing has become something of a mystery to me and I eschew best seller...
Mandela leaves us at a time when we know that the democratic path has rough patches and the walk to freedom is ongoing. Let us be guided by the unfaltering light of his selflessness.
I wonder if it was like this 2,000 years ago. If it was, when Jesus died, Pontius Pilate would have appeared on Sky News moments after the cross was taken down and said "The world mourns today a man of great integrity. It was an honour to have known him, and even when I sentenced him to crucifixion, he showed great forgiveness, and that shows what a great figure he was."
When Nelson Mandela first read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the justness of his cause and the iniquity of apartheid were confirmed. As he retells in his autobiography The Long Walk to Freedom, he took great comfort from that declaration...
The biggest tragedy of all is, if we're lucky enough to survive until we're old, grey and wrinkled, and our grandchildren ask us what we gave to the world we lived in, we are only able to say that we took more than we gave. For the man who dies without giving more than he has taken can take no triumph from his life.
As memorable evenings go, spending last night in the presence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu discussing his friendship with Nelson Mandela, is not one to forget in a hurry. I sat there thinking "self, when it's your time to depart, these will be some of the moments that flash before your eyes."
It's absurd, I know, but wouldn't it be nice to think that one day another Mandela figure will emerge, someone with the same burning sense of justice, unquenchable courage and personal integrity? Absurd, yes, but we can dream, can't we?
Saints are part of our shared humanity. Mandela has gone, but not really. He is still with us and has left such a powerful legacy that it is still alive within our consciousness. We are so sad that he has finally left this life, although we all knew that his body was finally getting old and tired.
I was recently at a friends 60th birthday party, and he said because of his age he was now an elder. I have to disagree, for me there are distinctive characteristics which mark out an elder. One of them is not seeking status, another is being content to be unpopular.
John Key refuses to even discuss with the media his stance on apartheid at the time of Mandela's imprisonment. Key, of the conservative National Party, will be attending the funeral as the leader of the NZ delegation. Yet Key is irritated by the fact that media continues to ask him about the issue.
I am proud to aver that a few tears welled up in my eyes last week when I heard that Nelson Mandela had passed away at the grand old age of 95....
Why is it that so many of our political giants, from Obama to Blair, let us down? And what is it about Mandela that made him somehow immune to the public image damage that is the standard bi-product of political office?
The World Leaders gathering in South Africa to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela are precisely the one group who have least interest in Nelson Mandela's true legacy - disobey the rules when they are wrong. His real message is in danger of being air-brushed out of history.
It is a little known fact that during his 27 years of imprisonment Nelson Mandela studied a law degree as a distance learning student with the University of London. Although none, as far as I am aware, of the many prisoner distance learners we funded have become a president; thousands have used the opportunity of education in prison to change for the better.