A Lawrence woman was among 11 Princeton University students who had a chance meeting Thursday with African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela.
Anna Grzymala-Busse, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jerzy Grzymala-Busse, was among nine Princeton seniors and two recent graduates who spotted Mandela at Johannesburg's Jan Smuts Airport after his flight was delayed because of fog. Mandela was scheduled to fly to Cape Town to meet with South African President F.W. de Klerk to discuss education policy.
"My friends will never believe it when I tell them I had my picture taken with a group of Princeton students at the airport," Mandela told the students during an impromptu photo and interview session.
The students are spending two weeks in South Africa doing field research as part of a "Toward a Post-Apartheid South Africa" task force. The group is working on a paper that seeks to address the major issues affecting the political and economic transformation taking place in South Africa.
THE RENDEZVOUS with Mandela was not the first for the students, who arrived in the country a week ago. The students and their faculty adviser attended an ANC-sponsored rally at FNB Stadium outside Soweto that commemorated the 15th anniversary of the June 16, 1976, Soweto riots.
The students were cheered onto the stadium's field by the crowd of 40,000 people.
"The emotion of the crowd was incredible," Grzymala-Busse said in a Princeton press release. "Their loyalty to the ANC and Mandela was obvious."
During the rally, Mandela and other black leaders spoke on the need for unity, repeated calls to ban the so-called traditional weapons carried by Zulu member of the Inkatha Freedom Party and expressed hope for a non-racial, non-sexist democratic South Africa. The students chased Mandela around the periphery of the stadium as he raised his right fist to applause in a symbol of ANC unity.
After their airport meeting with Mandela, the students flew to Cape Town, where they met members of the South African Parliament and were received by William Swing, the U.S. ambassador to South Africa.