Ex Shuttle reporter leads Nelson Mandela tributes

Kidderminster Shuttle: Tributes: Nelson Mandela. Tributes: Nelson Mandela.

A FORMER Shuttle reporter who is now based in South Africa has paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, saying he was proud the anti-apartheid icon knew his name.

Chris Bishop, 50, who joined the Shuttle aged 18 and has been chief reporter for sister paper Stourbridge News, is currently managing editor of Forbes Africa magazine and interviewed Mr Mandela several times in press conferences.

Mr Bishop grew up in Hartlebury and attended Stourport High School and VIth Form Centre. He now lives in Johannesburg.

He said: "He became familiar with my name among the thousands he heard every day. 'Ah, Mr Bishop, how are you?' the great man used to say when I asked questions at press conferences."

He recalled: "In 1997, the day after I ruptured by knee ligaments playing football, I requested an interview with the then president at a meeting of the African Union in Harare. As we walked off for the interview, Mandela noticed I had fallen behind and was hobbling in pain yards behind him.

"He enquired what was wrong and I told him of the football injury. 'Then may I suggest you take up boxing', he said with that famous smile."

On Thursday last week, Mr Bishop wrote through Forbes Africa: "Dim the lights across Africa, because he is gone."

Meanwhile, tributes to Mr Mandela have poured in from around Wyre Forest.

Constituency MP Mark Garnier said: "He has been a part of my life every since I can remember talking about politics and his calm and reasoned approach to global politics is an inspiration to everybody who seeks to represent their communities through the political process, he will be sorely missed."

On twitter, Wyre Forest District Council chairman Fran Oborski wrote: "Just as those of us old enough remember where we were when JFK died, we will remember where we were tonight with the sad death of Mandela."

The Very Rev Peter Atkinson, Dean of Worcester, said: "Nelson Mandela was one of the great figures of our time and the whole world is indebted to him."

The anti-apartheid icon, held in the highest esteem across the world for leading his nation's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s after 27 years in prison, died peacefully on Thursday last week.

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