By Paul Losch
Nelson Mandela and South AfricaUploaded: Dec 5, 2013
I had occasion to travel to South Africa on business while the apartheid regime was in place. It is a beautiful country, but not a pretty country--then or now
One vivid memory I have is attending a company business conference, at which I was a speaker. PW Botha was SA Prime Minister.
Those of us who had been at the podium went out for dinner that night. There were two African women, Ghanaian and Kenyan, as I recall, who were part of our party. Everyone else was white men, either South African or invited guests like me.
Nice restaurant, all the wait staff black, and the female members of the party, since they were not from South Africa, were treated no differently than the rest of the party. No black locals allowed. Lots of jokes traded about Botha, Desmund Tutu, Reagan.
An enjoyable evening. Except for me, who was against apartheid.
My hosts took me to Soweto, a place that was adjacent to Johannesburg, confined to black people, for a "tour." The juxtaposition between Soweto and the adjoining areas that looked like upscale white neighborhoods was striking and for me instructive.
I mourn the not expected death of Nelson Mandela. I also mourn that much of the conditions for the majority of South Africans remains the same, despite democracy over apartheid.