Nelson Mandela Dies - Grazia

December 05, 2013

When Nelson Mandela retired after serving one five-year term as President of South Africa in 1999 he laughingly said, “It’s important to step down while one or two people still admire me…” A joke, clearly, because, as the outpouring that greeted his death proved, Mandela was one of the most admired – and loved – statesmen on the planet.

Growing up as the son of a Xhosa tribal chief in South Africa’s rural Eastern Cape, the young Mandela rarely saw a white person. It was only when he began his education, and then moved to Johannesburg to train as a lawyer, that he experienced the reality of living in what soon became apartheid South Africa. “I slowly saw that not only was I not free,” he wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, “I saw that it was not just my freedom that was curtailed, but the freedom of everyone who looked like I did.”

Under apartheid, introduced by the Nationalist government of … [more]

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Istanbul Arrival

July 26, 2011

Last week I was in Istanbul attending a Youth Forum for teenagers from around the world. But not everyone in the world gets to travel in the same style.

Two girls from the Sierra Leone team staged a hunger strike during a 15 hour detention by Turkish authorities.

The team was travelling without obtaining the correct visas after visiting the Turkish consulate in Sierra Leone and finding it closed. They believed they could buy a temporary tourist visa at the airport under a scheme which applies to visitors from Europe and North America – but immigration officers locked them up instead.

“We spent 15 hours in detention, that’s a gross violation of my human rights. It couldn’t happen in my country” said Sulaiman Musa. “I can’t say it was because we are black, but because you’re an African, and from a poor country, that’s the first thing that’s comes to your mind…”

Once the group arrived they were questioned bri… [more]

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China Debates....

February 13, 2010

I’ve just returned from China, after a gap of about 16 years, and I met these undergraduates – coming together to do British Parliamentary debating on June 3rd and 4th ( quite an anniversary for the Chinese…)

“Legalising all pornography would be wrong, it would lead to more rape and unnatural sex, I commend this measure to the house. ” Haiqiang Zeng is a would be Prime Minister. He has the David Cameron leg thrust at the dispatch box, the Gordon Brown hand chop and, at key moments, a special samba-like hand roll of his very own.

Zeng is an undergraduate at Sichuan University, and while most other students in China are burdened with the heavy exam loads on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising, Zeng is competing with 300 others in the China Open debating championship in Qinhuangdao, run by IDEA (The International Debate Educational Association).

While traditional Chinese debating takes on more philos… [more]

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Istanbul Arrival

Last week I was in Istanbul attending a Youth Forum for teenagers from around the world. But not eve…

Nelson Mandela Dies - Grazia

When Nelson Mandela retired after serving one five-year term as President of South Africa in 1999 he…

China Debates....

I’ve just returned from China, after a gap of about 16 years, and I met these undergraduates – comin…

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