The journalist Jani Allan, 45, was born in Gauteng, South Africa. In 1992 she unsuccessfully sued Channel 4 for alleging she slept with the South African right-wing leader Eugene Terreblanche; the case made tabloid headlines when her best friend testified that she'd spied on the pair through a keyhole. Allan became a born-again Christian in 1994. Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, 68, is president of South Africa's Inkatha Freedom Party. He was born into Zulu aristocracy and had a traditional upbringing, working as a herdboy in his youth. He now holds the world record for the longest-ever speech (it lasted five days), has seven children and lives with his wife, Irene, in Kwazulu

JANI ALLAN: At the time I met Chief Buthelezi, in 1982, he was still flavour of the month - that was before political pragmatism took over. I remember an interminable lunch for the opening of the Drakensberg Sun Hotel in Natal. There wasn't an interview scheduled with His Excellency afterwards, but I thought I'd try and busk it anyway. The corridor outside his room was like a Japanese subway, packed with chiselled-faced Zulus. Very stern and very forbidding. My mind kept flashing back to a scene from the film Shaka Zulu where Impi warriors are chanting: "One Zulu is worth a thousand other men."

I felt embarrassed to be white, to be so terribly white and so terribly ignorant of his culture. Yet it was literally one of those synapse things when I walked into the room and actually met him - you just know somebody, maybe it's from another life or whatever.

He's a very controlled person and very measured; an epic character who I'm sure can be exacting - and I know he's a workaholic - but he's got the greatest sense of humour. I called him from London once and said to him: "You wait, they'll make homosexuality compulsory for anyone over five next. I just saw a guy at Wimbledon station wearing a dress - and it wasn't even a nice dress." It's not the kind of thing a Zulu would laugh at - but he laughed enormously. Buthelezi has a wide-open sort of laugh, like a train coming through a tunnel. And he sometimes says things that are unintentionally endearing, for example when he uses words like "balderdash" and "poppycock". It's so Brideshead Revisted.

Most of the time our discussions are political, because it's hard not to be political in this country (not like in Britain, where you can ignore the rather sedate way everything's going downhill). As I might as well come from a different planet, he doesn't exactly ask me for political advice, it's more really about how he's feeling. I've started thinking in my old age that I can't be friendly with someone if they disagree with me about key issues like hanging and abortion. Those are the bedrock issues from which the rest of a person's character flows. But despite the fact that everyone thinks that I'm an IFP member, I do not have any political affiliations. I support Buthelezi the man because he makes me believe that heroes still exist.

I'm always amazed how he straddles two cultures. Last year he took me for lunch in Pretoria. We went with all his bodyguards to a restaurant where the food looked so beautiful it should have been framed, not eaten. Needless to say, it was a great treat for me. Whenever I go out with somebody, I always think, "please let them not hold their knife like a pencil!" That's fatal. But Buthelezi was impeccable. He also invited me to commemorate Shaka Day, where the lunch was traditional food like putu (maize), which is eaten with one's fingers. When I went to the celebration it was like walking behind Mick Jagger. He's like a pop star, he is adored by his people. I've heard that people approach him on their knees. I just go, "hug, hug".

Whenever I've been near him I think I've smelled Aramis Devon, which is excellent. He dresses exquisitely - very Italianate: crocodile shoes, a little bit flashy. I think he thinks I'm stylish but I'm sure he also thinks I'm too thin.

He was in London just after my court case and he said: "I can't believe what they did to you." It's white people who go: "I wonder what the real story was?" Black people instinctively think it was a set-up. I received supportive faxes from him, which were enormously kind; and when my mother died he was the first person who phoned me.

Sometimes I can see why journalists get incredibly irritated when he closes his eyes as he launches into a big speech. But I know it's because he's so bored with these jumped-up people who haven't done their research. His speeches are so long because it's African style to talk at length. I've seen blacks sitting in the heat for hours and hours hanging on to every word while I've been battling to stay awake.

I have the weirdest range of emotions with regard to Buthelezi. I feel very protective and at the same in awe. He gave me a perfect (my puppy couldn't fit in it) terracotta-coloured, ostrich-skin handbag for my birthday. It was extraordinary because I think he picked it himself. There is never, ever any impropriety, yet he can make you feel so special. It's a fine line to tread. He doesn't flirt with women but they adore him.

I've thought about our friendship a lot over all these years - he's a Christian like me and we play by the same book of rules, yet I often wonder what on earth two people who come from totally different worlds have in common? He is arguably the most criticised man in the South African press and I don't for one minute pretend to know him, know him, know him. How could I? But to me he is a prince in every sense of the word.

CHIEF BUTHELEZI: I was immediately impressed with Jani when I saw her at my opening of the Drakensberg Hotel, 15 years ago. She had a column in the Sunday Times in South Africa which many people enjoyed, and it was quite exciting for me to meet her in person after reading her work for so long.

I had an idea of her humour from her writing and I'd always appreciated that very English brand of wit. She has a razor-sharp mind. She is a very intelligent person, and I thought: "Now here is a good example of beauty and brains." We got along like a house on fire immediately. My wife, who was also at the function, equally enjoyed listening to her conversation.

I subsequently met Jani again over the years in London; sometimes she interviewed me and the friendship slowly grew. She's a very special person and highly cultured, so it was always a pleasure to speak to her, with her powerful brain and the way she expresses herself.

When Jani talks to me I always take it as from someone who is a sister in the Lord and who is concerned about my welfare. In that capacity we speak very freely to each other. She tells me what she thinks and so forth. I wouldn't say I take her political advice. We do however have some ideas that overlap: for instance on capital punishment and abortion laws. I think in a situation like South Africa and with the kind of society we have, it was too early to remove the death penalty. When murderers know they can kill people and nothing can happen to them, it's a matter of sheer common sense that prison will not deter them.

I'm a Virgo and one of the aspects of my culture is that Zulu people are very shy. If I wasn't a politician I think I would have been a musician. Jani and I have similar musical tastes. I often play the Songs of David and I find listening to Chopin is very good for my whole well-being when I work, which can be up to midnight every night. I am not a connoisseur as far as eating is concerned, but I enjoy relaxing with friends like Jani and eating a good meal. The only thing is, I suffer from gout, which limits my range of food to chicken and fish.

The one thing I regret about Jani is that she smokes so much. She's lessening her life by so many hours every day. It's something I lament - but I'm tolerant. I always say if those over 21 want to kill themselves, that's fine - but even as a passive smoker you can contract cancer. Smokers can commit suicide if they want, but why take me along?

When Jani was going through her trial with C4 over her alleged romantic links with Eugene Terreblanche, I felt very, very sorry for her. Being vilified by the press is something I know about, and in that respect I have great empathy with her. I used to be very popular - I was once honoured as Man and Newsmaker of the Year. But the winds of favour changed sharply and some newspapers now sarcastically refer to me as the most litigious politician. Criticism is something that one expects in politics and one is fair game. But there are limits and I have human rights too. Very often in their hatred and efforts to placate the ruling party in this country, the press has gone very far at my expense and quite a number of times I've had to take the papers to court. So I understood Jani's experience, because I've had a taste of it: the press would link me to Terreblanche too, though I've never even spoken to him. In that sense Jani is a tough cookie. A lesser soul than her would have completely gone to pieces. She is very strong in spirit and I admire that.

Very often in the morning I cry when I pray, because there's so much I should be doing and I don't know if I can accomplish it all. But I always believe that one must never abandon hope. I pray for other people who pray for me, and I'm sure Jani's one of them. I'm loyal to my friends, even though I've been deserted by so many.

Jani is a very sensitive and emotional person. I don't think I've got the same fine sensitivity or compassion that she has. But finding ourselves on the same wavelength as Christians is more profound and meaningful to me than anything else. Over the years we've warmed towards each other as Christians. That bond, apart from the friendship, rises above all different political ideas. It's more of a spiritual link.

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform