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(From Financial Mail)
Byline: SHAUN JOHNSON
Nelson Mandela A study in greatness The greatest work of his life, which will continue long after he has gone, is just beginning. It is the work of a guide for humanity BY It is July 2 2003, in a hall as grand as Great Britain can muster, and a setting as far from a traditional African seat of power as one could conjure. A scene is developing, like a photograph in a tray, and it depicts the extraordinary metamorphosis of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela into the most revered human being in the world.
Among red, ornate throne-like seats on a raised dais in a room so pomp-filled it makes the guests in the packed hall feel they inhabit a dreamscape, are gathered powerful and famous men - mostly from the northern hemisphere. Here is British prime minister Tony Blair, explosively energetic, bobbing on the balls of his feet, pumping the hands of dignitaries. Here too is former US president Bill Clinton, wafting his effortless aura over the VIPs on the stage. Here are many others who, on another night, would command star billing themselves: former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, University of Oxford chancellor Chris Patten, Rhodes Trust chairman Lord Waldegrave, former New York mayor David Dinkins, De Beers head Nicky Oppenheimer ... the list is long.
They are distracted, awaiting the arrival of the most famous of them all.
When at last he is sighted, silhouetted between the gigantic doors of Westminster Hall at the farthest point from the stage, it is all the room can do to stop itself from spontaneously combusting. Nelson Mandela, retired octogenarian leader of a small country on the southern extremity of the world's poorest continent, has arrived and the night is his. This is a far cry …