Freeing Nelson Mandela


The struggle for justice and a better world relates for every generation, to special conflicts and events. One of these conflicts for me was the situation in South Africa and the implementation of the system of apartheid there.

Then as now, some people choose to intervene and be a part of the struggle for a better world.

I am remembering today the date of 17th july 1988. We were in London and had heard that a march had been organized and carried through by the AAM (Anti-apartheid Mouvement). This march started in Glasgow and ended in London, where more people could and did join up, to protest against apartheid and show their solidarity to those on the frontline of the struggle and resistance to this despicable system.

 This was the year when the leader of the ANC, a certain Nelson Mandela, became known to the world. It was the year of his 70th birthday and a concert was held earlier on, in Wembley, London.

This was the occasion when the world got knowledge that heading this long struggle there was a man locked up on an island off Cape Town. The anti-apartheid mouvement had finally a face.

 Nobody could then have known that this demonstration would help, not to release a man and a leader but also an example of humanity and leadership. Those there played a small part in freeing nelson Mandela and stamping out apartheid.


We have now lost Mandela. Why he became a landmark in a time that saw war and destruction worldwide, is not difficult to understand. Mandela showed by action and not words that humanity has a chance.

 I know, as I write these lines that there are many people and ideas locked up by oppression and the mechanisms of power and greed. I am happy that the world has the example Mandela to guide us on our most difficult times.


My contact with South Africa and South Africans would later materialize in a number of ways. I hope to be able to write about them at a later stage, on this blog.

The National Team (1)


Sweden and Portugal are set to play a decisive play-off to participate in next year’s World Cup in Brazil. Whilst trying to decide whether or not I should go to the match in Stockholm on the 19th November, I am recalling the matches I have seen live, with Portugal’s national team. My team!

First match I saw was a friendly as part of the preparation for the England World Cup of 1966. Portugal played Uruguay at the national stadium on the 26th June. José Torres scored all the three goals and my grandmother who had never seen a football match but was very keen on Eusébio felt very sorry for the Uruguayans and said that they should be allowed to score a goal.

I had moved to London in 1968 and one year later Portugal played a friendly on the 10th December 1969. England won by 1-0 after a goal by Jackie Charlton, so Portugal did not at this time revenge being knocked out of the England World Cup three years earlier.

In 1984 Portugal were in the same qualifying group as Sweden for the World Championship of 1986 in Mexico. Thanks to a late goal by Fernando Gomes Portugal could come home with a precious 1-0 victory. That match was seen surrounded by Swedes that had little or no understanding when João Oliveira and I jumped up to celebrate the goal. Much could be said of this Stockholm encounter but it is a story that will have to stand on its own.

Fate had it that Portugal and Sweden would once again play each other, this time for the European Championships. My fourth match was also in Råsunda, Stockholm, and was played on the 23rd September 1987. Even in this match Portugal came out as a winner. An early goal by defender João Pinto ( his only one, in 70 caps) was enough but neither of the two countries would reach the final phase in Germany 1988.

Before the 2004 European Championship that was organized in Portugal the National Team only played friendlies. It was on the 10th September 2003 that I saw Portugal defeat Norway by 1-0. The goal scored by Pedro Pauleta at the Oslo Ullevaal arena. Through our mobile we heard that Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh had been knifed in Stockholm some hours earlier. Unfortunately she would no longer be with us the next day.