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19 juillet 2007

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.

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 . "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 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?"

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