• Most of us have heard his name, but few remember who (and what) he was ... 


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  • Did you know about that ? Just a few miles from the Spanish border, right under Mount Canigou there is a Catalan village who has been, for over a century, a haven for visitors from the UK. It boasts a Church of England chapel, and was a usual Spring and Summer resort for British tourists and thermalists, including such famous names as Lord Edward Grey, Lord Roberts, and Rudyard KIPLING (remember Mowgli ? The Jungle Book ?)

    Another place of interest is the monument dedicated to the Entente Cordiale, a treaty of peace and cooperation between France and Great Britain -- apparently the only one in France, dating back to 1912.

    Unexpected landmarks.

    In 2004, one century after Lord Grey, Denis MacShane, the British Foreign Office minister, attended a ceremony to celebrate the centenary of the Entente Cordiale.This village is known as Vernet-les-Bains (66820, Pyrénées-Orientales).

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  • The Upper Florentine valley in Tasmania (Australia) ...



    (touringtasmania.info; 400 x 512 jpg)


    ... is near Maydena in the South West of the island, roughly 3 hours’ drive from Hobart and covers 60 km2 of temperate rainforest. It lies just outside the World Heritage Area. This area of low relief valleys is a known habitat for threatened species of flora and fauna, including Eucalyptus Regnans, Sallow Wattle, Myrtle Elbow Orchid, Grey Goshawk, and Spotted-tail Quoll.

    In 2009, the Upper Florentine received attention in the media for a series of arrests, made by Tasmanian Police, of protesters taking part in various pro-conservationist rallies. (Source: Wikipedia)


    (Grant Dixon, Florentine forest mist 2. Aug. 2008. 800 x 531 jpg)


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  • - A short biography of Nelson Mandela -

    Date of Birth: July 18, 1918    Place of Birth: Eastern Cape of South Africa

    Parents: Father: - Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa.    Mother: Nosekeni Fanny.

     1918 July 18: Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela is born a member of the Madiba clan. His tribal name, "Rolihalah," means "troublemaker." He is later given his English name, Nelson, by a teacher at his school

     1919 : His father is dispossessed of his land and money on the orders of a white magistrate. (1)

    1927 His father dies. The acting chief of the Thembu clan, Jongintaba Dalindyebo becomes his guardian (2) and ensures he receives an excellent education

    1937 Fort Hare University: Studied for a B.A. and met his lifelong friend Oliver Tambo

     1939 Asked to leave Fort Hare due to his involvement in a boycott of the Students' Representative Council against the university policies

    Moves to Johannesburg to escape an arranged marriage and experiences the system of apartheid which forbade the black population to vote, travel  without permission or own land. Worked as a guard at a mine,  then clerk at a law firm. Completed his degree via a correspondence course at the University of South Africa. Studies Law at the University of Witwatersrand whilst living in Alexandra

    1943 Joins the African National Congress (ANC) as an activist.

    1948 South African government (Afrikaner-dominated National Party) limits the freedom of black Africans even more when the apartheid policy of racial segregation is introduced across the country

     1952 Opens the first black legal firm in South Africa with fellow lawyer Oliver Tambo providing free or low-cost legal counsel to many blacks who would otherwise have been without legal representation.


    (Nelson Mandela, or Madiba, his clanic name among the Xhosas people.)

    1959 Parliament passes new laws extending racial segregation by creating separate homelands for major black groups in South Africa

    1960 Sharpeville Massacre: Police kill 69 peaceful protestors and the ANC is banned

    1964 June 12:  Captured and convicted of sabotage and treason and sentenced to life imprisonment at the age of 46, initially on Robben island where he would be kept for 18 years

     1968 His mother dies and his eldest son is killed in a car crash but he is not allowed to attend either of the funerals

    1976 Over 600 students killed in protests at Soweto and Sharpeville

    1986  Sanctions against South Africa tightened costing millions in revenue

    1990 February 11: Nelson Mandela is released from prison after 27 years

    President De Klerk lifts the ban on the African National Congress (ANC)

    1993 March:  Divorces Winnie Mandela

    Nelson Mandela and Mr de Klerk are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

    1994 April 26: Free Elections where black South Africans are allowed to vote for the first time. Nelson Mandela runs for President. The ANC won 252 of the 400 seats in the national assembly

    May: Inaugurated as the first black president of South Africa. He appoints de Klerk as deputy president and forms a racially mixed Government of National Unity.

    1995 South Africa hosts the 1995 Rugby World Cup and South Africa wins. Nelson Mandela wears a Springbok shirt when he presents the trophy to Afrikaner captain Francois Pienaar. This gesture was seen as a major step in the reconciliation of white and black South Africans.

    1999 Relinquishes presidency in favor of Thabo Mbeki, who was nominated ANC president in 1997.

    Toured the world as a global statesman. 2004 : retires from public life

    485 x 333 14 KB a drawing by Ruben (Le Courrier International) 


    -         1. The British Cape Colony, which included the "native reserve" of the Transkei, had been absorbed into the Union of South Africa in 1910, and three years later the Native Land Act dispossessed hundreds of thousands of black farmers, many of whom trekked to the Transkei, the only large area where Africans could own land. The Transkei has produced more black leaders than any other region of South Africa, and it was with this history that they were brought up.

    Rolihlahla's father, Hendry Mandela, suffered his own dispossession. The year after his son was born the local white magistrate summoned Hendry to answer a tribesman's complaint about an ox. Hendry refused to come, and was promptly charged with insubordination and deposed from the chieftainship, losing most of his cattle, land and income. (Source : http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/sampson-mandela.html)

    -         (2) He was nine when his father died of a lung disease. According to Nelson's sister, Mabel, [his father] made a dying bequest to the Thembu regent, David Dalindyebo, giving Nelson into his care. "I can see from the way he speaks to his sisters and friends that his inclination is to help the nation," Mabel quoted her father as telling the regent.

    The bequest took Nelson to the Thembu capital, Mqhekezweni, the "great place", where he became part of the royal family, being treated by Dalindyebo and his wife as their own child. "As a leader, I have always followed the principles I first saw demonstrated by the regent at the 'great place'," Mandela recalled. "I have always endeavoured to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Often times, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion." (Source : http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/05/nelson-mandela-obituary)

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