Anthony Sampson, writer and friend of Mandela, dies at 78

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The Independent Online

Anthony Sampson, the author and journalist, died peacefully at home on Saturday night, aged 78. Mr Sampson, who wrote a weekly column for The Independent, had recently reworked his landmark 1963 book The Anatomy of Britain, with an updated version, Who Runs This Place? In it, he dissected the workings of the establishment, and was received with much critical acclaim. His book The Seven Sisters (1975) on the world's major oil companies, was awarded the Prix International de la Presse in Nice.

Mr Sampson's lifelong commitment to human rights and social justice began in the 1950s, when after graduating from Oxford University, he was invited to South Africa to edit what became the influential anti-apartheid magazine Drum. He became intimate with the young black ANC leaders, such as Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela, who were to overturn the apartheid regime. It is said that he had a major input into Mr Mandela's famous speech from the dock in the Rivonia Trial, in Pretoria, in April 1964. Mr Mandela chose Mr Sampson to write his biography and, in 1999,Mandela: The Authorised Biography appeared.

Mr Mandela said: "He cared about Africa in a way that is rare among those from the developed world and he never stopped caring. Because of his intimate involvement, both as observer and sympathiser, with our cause I had no hesitation in agreeing to him writing my authorised biography. I knew that in his hands our cause would be reported justly."

Mr Sampson had a long association with Independent News & Media, the publisher of The Independent, and had served on its international advisory board since 1995.

Sir Anthony O'Reilly, the chief executive officer of Independent News & Media, said: "His interventions at the board's meetings were superb - crystalline, deeply analytical and always constructive.

"To me he represents the finest kind of writer and journalist, and a man of infinte charm to boot."

Mr Sampson wrote every Saturday for The Independent, which in his wife, Sally's words, "he loved doing up to the end". She added that he felt very strongly indeed about human rights, due to his experiences under apartheid. He was felt passionately about the terrible consequences of the Iraq war, and was proud to have gone on the big London march that preceded the war." He is survived by his wife, daughter, son and two grandchildren.