Madiba tribute: Robin Renwick

By Kirstin Buick
06 December 2013

Former British ambassador to SA pays tribute to Nelson Mandela.

BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO SA 1987-1991

Mandela was due to go to England for a Wembley concert [in 1990] and he wanted to meet [then British Prime Minister] Mrs [Margaret] Thatcher. “How do I tackle Mrs T?” Mandela asked me, so we did a dress rehearsal. “You must stop all this nonsense about banks and the markets immediately. It’s completely hopeless!” I said, pretending to be Mrs Thatcher. He thought it was hilarious.

Just before he came through the door, she [Thatcher] gripped me by the elbow and said, “Is he like [Zimbabwean President] Robert Mugabe?” and I said, “I can assure you that there are no two human beings on Earth less like each other than Mandela and Mugabe.” After a wary hour or so they got on well, because his charm never fails to work. The meeting went on for about three hours and the press outside No 10 [Downing Street] began to chant, “Free Nelson Mandela!”

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Extracted from Mandela: The Authorised Portrait 

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