Reporters on the Job
• Momentarily Starstruck: Correspondent Danna Harman was in South Africa in 1994, during the first free elections after the end of apartheid. She recalls Nelson Mandela dancing at a rally.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
On Wednesday, she found herself a few feet away from Mr. Mandela at a press conference announcing the establishment of a global council of elders (see story). "He's one of my heros and hasn't been seen in public recently. So, yes, I was a little starstruck. I smiled and gave him the thumbs up."
That was followed by another emotional moment, when British entrepreneur Richard Branson asked Australian rock star Peter Gabriel to sing "Biko" – a song about Steve Biko, the South African antiapartheid activist who died in police custody. "Gabriel's band wasn't there, so he asked the crowd to hum along in key. Branson started crying. Biship Desmond Tutu was bawling, and I teared up," says Danna.
Later, Mr. Branson, he asked Danna what she thought of the event. By then, her reporter's hat was back in place. "The elders are admirable, even great people," she replied. "But I don't understand the meat of the initiative. What are they going to do?"
• Left the Rally Early: Correspondent Shahan Mufti went to a protest rally Tuesday where Pakistan's chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was suspended by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was supposed to speak. Early on, the atmosphere was very upbeat. "There was lots of music, with protest anthems, including a sung version of a poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, who was head of the Communist Party in the 1970s," he says. "People were quite excited. That's how these rallies have tended to be – people are very enthusiastic about celebrating an institution of government that is standing up to military rule."
"I stayed for a couple of hours but left when it became obvious that the chief justice wasn't going to show up for a while," Shahan says. Not long after, a suicide bomber attacked, killing 17 (see story).
– David Clark Scott