Nelson Mandela International Day (July 18 2020)

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013)

“There must be a kernel of morality also to international behaviour. Of course, nations must place their own interests high on the list of considerations informing their international relations. But the amorality which decrees that might is right can not be the basis on which the world conducts itself in the next century.

It was pure expediency to call on democratic South Africa to turn its back on Libya and Qaddafi, who had assisted us in obtaining democracy at a time when those who now made that call were the friends of the enemies of democracy in South Africa.”

Nelson Mandela — Cape Town (June 13 1999)

July 18 2020 — Nelson Mandela International Day is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on July 18, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on July 18 2010. However, other groups began celebrating Mandela Day on July 18 2009. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

Mandela was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.

Among his many other achievements, Nelson Mandela played a significant and honorable part in the Lockerbie affair.

Mandela & Lockerbie

On February 11 1990, a person the US Central Intelligence Agency had helped to arrest in 1962, walked as a free man out of a South African prison.  This ‘troublemaker’ would soon be running the country.

QUICK NOTES — To make it easier for the readers to retrieve various chapters of my book, I have created a special page  “Lockerbie” where all the links to the chapters will be listed with a brief description. You can access that page directly as it appears at the far right of the top bar of this blog.

A procedural hearing in the Megrahi appeal was due to take place on 17 April 2020, but was postponed when court business was suspended because of the Covid-19 emergency. A rescheduled procedural hearing has now been fixed to take place before five judges of the High Court of Justiciary on Friday, 21 August 2020 at 10 am. The hearing will be held using Webex. [The Lockerbie Case — Procedural hearing in Megrahi appeal rescheduled]


Nelson  Mandela was decided to reveal the truth about Pan Am 103 and the Lion of South Africa was determined to move Heaven and Earth until the US and the UK would accept a Lockerbie trial in a neutral country.

“The same country should not be complainer, prosecutor and judge in this particular matter,” Mandela argued.

In April 1998, Libyan government officials, lawyers and British representatives of the bombing victims – including my friend Dr. Jim Swire – met in Tripoli.

Following their meetings, Libyans authorities confirmed that their government would accept an old plan — devised in 1994 by Pr. Robert Black — whereby the case would be tried in a neutral country, operating under Scottish law.

On January 7 1999, after Tony Blair’s visit to South Africa, President Nelson Mandela launches a diplomatic initiative to bring an end to the impasse over the Lockerbie suspects.

Mandela arranged for a two-man delegation made up of Prince Bandar (the Saudi Ambassador to the United States) and Jakes Gerwell (Mandela’s chief of staff) to meet Colonel Gaddafi.

On March 19 1999, after being granted special permission from the UN, Nelson Mandela flew to Tripoli to speak directly with Colonel Gaddafi.

By the end of their meetings, Mandela announced that the Lockerbie suspects would be surrendered on or before April 6 1999.

And indeed, on April 5 1999, the two Libyan suspects for the Lockerbie Pan Am bombing, Abdelbaset al Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, were taken into Dutch custody after flying from Tripoli to Camp Zeist — an old airbase near The Hague — where they would stand trial in a Scottish court.

As Nelson “The troublemaker” Mandela famously said:

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Visit to Megrahi in Prison

Mandela visiting Megrahi — aka the ‘Lockerbie bomber’ — in prison. Many thanks to my friend John Ashton who took the picture.

On Sunday July 24 2011,  huge crowds greeted Nelson Mandela as he traveled from South Africa to meet Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

 He met the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in 2002 on a diplomatic excursion to see how he was being treated.

The former president of South Africa also discussed a campaign for Megrahi to serve his sentence in a Libyan prison.

Everyone who has met Mandela speaks of his kindness, gentleness and good manners.

His visit to Gaddafi’s Cafe, the nickname given to the area of Barlinnie where Megrahi was held, underlined the humanity of the man.

After all, Mandela himself spent 18 of his 27 years in jail on Robben Island after being locked up by the South Africa’s apartheid government.

Most of the crowd hoping to meet him were positioned around the reception and the main gates. Everyone on the staff wanted a glimpse of the great man. The wellwishers were rows deep.

But as he passed through the throng, Mandela stopped, looked to the edge of the crowd and spotted a young prison officer right at the back.

He said: “You sir, step down here.”

When the officer got to the front, Mandela shook his hand, giving him a moment he would never forget.

Mandela remarked that he, too, knew what it was like to be at the back row and not noticed.

The great leader then went inside to meet Megrahi.

But he declined an offer to visit the cell blocks.

Mandela had seen enough to last a lifetime.

PS: This is Sunday, so I will share a joke with you. I know that Rolihlahla — “The troublemaker” — would not mind. In both Colombia and France, there is a popular joke involving Mandela. Question : What is the difference between South Africa and this country? Answer : In South Africa, you first spend time in prison, then you become president. I am not sure that Alvoro Uribe and Nicolas Sarkozy are much amused.

Johnny Clegg with Nelson Mandela – Asimbonanga

Asimbonanga — We have not seen him

Asimbonang’ umandela thina — We have not seen Mandela

Laph’ekhona –Iin the place where he is

Laph’ehleli khona — In the place where he is kept


RIP Nelson Mandela — The Lockerbie Case


On this Day — Nelson Mandela Quits (December 5 2013)

Nelson Mandela International Day (July 18 2020)

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