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An Ethiopian Odyssey

Chapter 5 - New guides and tests

October 2002

Chapter 5: ‘New guides and tests’. I found guides willing to help me on my journey; both in my dreams and here on earth. I began to realise that spontaneous events contained much more meaning than anything I’d planned.

Rob and James were able to explore more of my roots when we visited South Africa for my 50th birthday. I’d lived there with my parents from 1966 – 1972, but it was a country I hated, despite its beautiful scenery and climate. Apartheid reigned and the injustice and cruelty meted out to the black and coloured populations was more than I could bear. But with independence in April 1994, and the first faltering steps to equality, 2002 seemed a good time to return.

Nelson Mandela was one of my heroes: his resilience during 26 years in prison and his forgiveness when released was extraordinary, and set an example for all political leaders everywhere.

“………….another link with peace appeared out of the blue, a few days later in Montagu, Cape Province. The guesthouse we’d wanted to stay in was fully booked, but the manager recommended ‘Kingna Lodge’ nearby. The owners were rightfully proud of the immaculate Victorian lodge and peeking into one room, on the wall a plaque marked Nelson Mandela’s stay there – the former South African President. Rob and I chose another room, in which Mandela’s ally had stayed: Frederick Willem de Klerk. Mandela and de Klerk had been joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. My intuition had twigged that it was these seemingly random coincidences that were now important to my future – far more so than anything I planned.”

Nine months later on 10th July 2003, the great man himself stood only 20 feet away from me at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London, condemning the Iraq War, during his speech of thanks for being presented with the “Humanity Fellowship Award” by the International Red Cross. Here is the full text of his speech.

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