Not missing any opportunity to write

In November 2009 I decided to write to His Excellency the President of Botswana, Ian Khama, to tell him that there is a South African citizen who holds him in high esteem, who apppreciates that he doesn't buckle like a plastic toy over a flame before Robert Mugabe (certainly not using those words! In fact, in the first paragraph I wrote: ‘‘I have never written to a State President before and I humbly apologise in advance if my missive lacks in proper decorum’’). He has gravitas. I like gravitas.

I ended the (handwritten) letter thus: ‘‘From time to time reports appear in our press of matters pertaining to your leadership in Botswana; reports that have strengthened my conviction that (if you will allow me this final liberty) you are the embodiment of the African leader for a new century and a rapidly changing world.’’

And what do you know? He replied two weeks later! My kind of president.