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(Self-portrait of the author published in 2005)
by Freidoune Sahebjam
As a diplomat then a journalist, Freidoune Sahebjam had seen and crossed quite a lot of people! He had taken lunch with kings and presidents, had tea with queens and princesses. He had interviewed chiefs of State and captains of industry, generals and scientists, actresses among the most beautiful ones, talented sportsmen…
One whole night he talked to Ernesto Che Guevara in the mid sixties in the region of the African Great Lakes, declamated Persian poems with Commandant Ahmad Shah Massoud in the Panjshir Valley, conversed with General de Gaulle during a memorable travel to Iran in 1963, with John F. Kennedy at Hyannis Harbor, with Salvador Allende in the Chile, with Nelson Mandela in Pretoria.
He was received by the Queen of England, by Baudouin and Fabiola, Carl Gustav of Sweden, Margreth of Denmark, Juan Carlos of Spain. He knew king Mohamad Zaher Shah of Afghanistan, king Farouk of Egypt and the Negus of Ethiopia Haile Selassie. No Muslim sovereign was left unknown to him.
He had also met with almost all American Presidents since Eisenhower, with four British Prime ministers amongst whom Churchill and with as many German chancellors. From Vincent Auriol to Jacques Chirac, he had spoken to seven French Presidents. In the haphazard of his travelling back and forth, he had met with Chou En Lai and Nehru, Sadat and Hassan II, Golda Meir, Castro, Brejnev, Ceausescu, Saddam Hussein, Lech Walesa.
He had also met ecclesiastics, both men and women, among whom some had considerably impressed him such as Pope John XXIII, Pope John- Paul II, the Dalaï-Lama, Mother Teresa, Pastor Boegner.
He was received by prominent medical or scientific, artistic and cultural personalities : Prof. Barnard in Cap, Prof. Monod in France, Chaplin in Switzerland, Picasso in Mougins.
He travelled with Kessel to Afghanistan, accompanied Malraux to Egypt, Rubinstein to Persepolis and Audrey Hepburn to East Africa. He spoke to Fausto Coppi, Emil Zatopek, Toni Sailer, Jean Borotra, Pelé, Ray Robinson.
He recorded the talks of around twenty great Hollywoodian actors and as many European ones, had short-lived love affairs with some renowned actresses…whom he saw again, then definitely lost sight of them.
He had written several thousand articles, conducted nearly as many interviews, talked more than three thousand times on radio, had appeared more than six hundred times on television. He had given courses and lectures, had written some ten books and had even shot a film.
Excerpt from his memoirs
Publisher Le Félin, 2005