Recently on a run over Wimbledon Common at 07:30 in the gloom of a winter's morning, a stranger also in jogging kit and who was of about the same age as me asked me the way to Richmond Park. He said he was visiting from South Africa and was slightly lost on his way to visit his daughters who had emigrated and now lived near Richmond Park.
We then jogged together for a while and introduced ourselves - he being Peter. Richmond Park is a mile or three from Wimbledon Common and I outlined a jogging path for him via Beverly Brook which would take him to the Robin Hood Roundabout entrance to Richmond Park without having to stray on to any road such as the nearby A3.
I mentioned to him the school visits by staff from the small school where I am a governor to and from Zimbabwe schools. I recalled the visits by some of the pupils from Zimbabwe and the occasion when the London ambassador from Zimbabwe turned up in his ambassador's car, uninvited as I recall, for a school welcome dinner for the pupils from Zimbabwe.
The question of whether or not to mention the appalling unfairnesses in their system during a speech of welcome for the boys was answered in favour of restricting the talk to welcoming the boys not least because the ambassador had turned up uninvited but also because 11 year old boys were we felt, entitled to a welcome free from politics.
Peter told me how much he admired Nelson Mandela but said how many schools in South Africa today were almost as impoverished as some in Zimbabwe.
Part of the problem appears to be local politicians succumbing to temptation to line their own pockets unduly in circumstances where there is insufficient state oversight to control that and bring wayward political leaders to account.
Looking at the UK, potentially wayward/selfish politicians do not seem to be in short supply but a difference emerging between the UK system and that of some other countries including apparently South Africa, is that of a relatively strong and if not independent, at least quasi independent body which can and does calls British politicians to account for cash received from the state over and above their MPs' salaries.
On the other hand as discussed with Peter as we jogged along, British history is littered with selfish and tyrannical people and we are far from free of those in C21. South Africa in my view, is on the road to a fairer and freer society but to use a cliche, ' Rome was not built in a day'.
We bade each other good luck and farewell as I turned off for the Windmill and he for Beverly Brook.