I watched the death throes of Apartheid and have Mandela’s autograph to treasure

Written by Cyril Mannion on .


From my first flight as a pilot for British Airways, which was to Johannesburg in June 1988, I watched the final death throes of Apartheid with a deeply felt interest fuelled by frequent stay overs at the Rosebank hotel in a smart white suburb of Johannesburg.  

Visits to local restaurants, shops, and golf clubs made me acutely aware of the effects of the segregation and injustice.

It was therefore a particularly big thrill for me to have Nelson Mandela as a passenger from Heathrow on 26/27 May 1992.

It should have been a routine uneventful flight, but I saw Mr Mandela show his strength of character and observed that not everyone shared my idolised view of him.

I wrote this account last April and it simply describes the sequence of events which led to me getting Mr Mandela’s autograph, something I recalled when I watched the emotional moments on TV this week.


Cyril Mannion