6/27/13 ASHLAND, Ohio - Dr. Dan Lehman, trustees’ distinguished professor of English, was interviewed by Associated Press outside Nelson Mandela’s hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 26. Lehman had stopped at the hospital during his morning run. Lehman and six students from Ashland University participated in a two-week study tour of South Africa. The tour combined six undergraduate students from Ashland University and five graduate students from Ohio State University and was led by Drs. Dan and Barbara Lehman, who were Fulbright senior scholars in Cape Town during the 2004-2005 academic year.
Dr. Lehman explained what took place.
"The world press has gathered at Mandela's hospital, and people have been bringing signs to the gate. As I was standing there reading the signs and taking it all in, the Associated Press approached me for an on-camera interview. Perhaps it was because I was the only white guy among the those paying respects, or perhaps I was an obvious foreigner, or perhaps it was just sort of strange that I was in running clothes on a cold morning not long after dawn.
In any event, it turned into quite a long interview and I surprised myself by getting emotional at mid-point. I think it was that I remembered my mom's favorite story about watching TV with anti-apartheid Quaker activist friends in Birmingham, England, the day that Mandela was released from prison. I guess I am not my Mom's son for nothing when it comes to emotions and it made me remember her. Of course, my emotions were also affected by the fact that within the past few weeks my AU students and I had stood in the tiny cell on Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned for two decades and also wallked through the lime quarry where he worked at hard labor. But of course the media seemed quite interested in my reaction.
Moments later, Reuter's asked for an on-camera interview, but I cut that very short as I really was not interested in becoming some sort of voice for this experience when there are so many South African voices to be heard.
Barbara and I walked back to the site later this morning. It is really an experience not to be missed as South Africans pour out their hearts to their leader and hero. And it is interesting to see the rather raffish World/African press corps in action.”