Richard Oliff: Find that got me thinking of Mandela

A chance find led to Richard reminiscing about Nelson Mandela
A chance find led to Richard reminiscing about Nelson Mandela
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In the autumn of 1993 I was working in the special operations office on London’s Oxford Street for a magazine called First.

It was a quarterly publication which described itself as “a forum for decision makers”, with editorial contributions by some of the world’s most influential people, even Royalty, giving their views on the state of the world economy, global banking, economic development, mergers and acquisitions.

Its circulation was equally exclusive, being despatched to presidents, prime ministers, governors of this or that bank, and the residents of many a Royal household.

Last Saturday was particularly hot: I was in my element.

Time, I thought, for a clear-out of the garage, the contents of which had not been touched since I moved into my new home at the end of January.

With the background sound of the ladies final from Wimbledon keeping me company as I rummaged through the battered storage boxes, I came across the third quarter 1993 edition of First.

For someone like me who needs no invitation to stop for a quiet reminisce, I began flicking through the pages. My name was listed on page two alongside all other essential folk that helped create it.

Then on page 13 was a single side of editorial that caught my eye.

It was written by Nelson Mandela, who, at that time, was the president of the African National Congress.

Facing him on the opposite page was a piece by the seventh and last State President of apartheid-era, South Africa F W De Klerk, though the magazine had wrongly described him simply as ‘president’, a title that was in waiting for the aforementioned Mr Mandela.

How timely that I should find this at this time when so many people around the world are thinking about the man who effectively brought to an end a system of government that was filled with such hatred and pain.