Return to Transcripts main page
Mandela; Celebration and Memories; Exposing Apartheid's Cruelty; How the World Helped to End Apartheid; CAR Violence; Imagine a World
Aired December 9, 2013 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour, reporting this week from Johannesburg, South Africa, and we're here for the celebration and memories of the life of Nelson Mandela.
Now more than 90 heads of state are scheduled to attend the big soccer stadium memorial tomorrow, along with well more than 90,000 South Africans and others who are wending their way here from abroad, leaders like the British Prime Minister David Cameron and the U.S. President Barack Obama, who's seen here leaving Washington for the 17-hour flight to Johannesburg; they'll all rub shoulders with the likes of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, Cuba's Raul Castro and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.
Today and throughout the week, I'll bring you stories of Mandela's life and his struggle from those who knew him best. And we'll wrestle with his legacy and the state of the Rainbow Nation that he leaves behind.
So we begin tonight with Mac Maharaj. In 1964, he was sent to South Africa's notorious Robben Island prison for being part of the ANC's armed wing. He was, of course, incarcerated with Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the anti-apartheid movement.
When he was released in 1976, Maharaj smuggled out the first draft of what became Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom." And after helping to negotiate the transition to black majority rule, he then served in Nelson Mandela's cabinet.
Today, Mac Maharaj is spokesman to President Jacob Zuma and he's deeply involved in the nation's memorial tribute to his former comrade. And he joins me now for his first in-depth interview on television.
First of all, thank you, and welcome to the program.
MAC MAHARAJ, SPOKESMAN FOR JACOB ZUMA: Thank you very much for having me on your show.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you, having been so close to him and so right there during the seminal struggle as he became a politician, what are your feelings in the aftermath of his death?
MAHARAJ: I haven't had time to reflect sufficiently. I have a job to do as a spokesman of the president of South Africa. And I have to do that by putting my feelings aside. Maybe there will come a time later, but for the moment, let me say this: I've had time to reflect in the past and I see my life as a tremendous privilege. I've been with the Mandelas and the Sisulus in prison. I've been in the harshest times. I've been there to celebrate our pain, share them; I've ate food with them sitting on our haunches. I've been in the communal showers with them because there were no individual showers. And so I look back at my life and say what a privilege.
AMANPOUR: A privilege because you learned so much and you've formed this ultimately successful political movement, but also you were sentenced to hard labor.
What was the harshness of daily life in the quarry and elsewhere on Robben Island?
MAHARAJ: You know, Christiane, that's an amazing question, because I think the function of memory is such, because our struggles (INAUDIBLE), whenever I go back and I reflect on Robben Island, I only think of the good times. I think --
AMANPOUR: (INAUDIBLE) heroic putting it in the past.
MAHARAJ: If we had been defeated, I think we'd only see the pain.
AMANPOUR: That's right.
MAHARAJ: So the work of the whole quarry, well, to me, I had free food, free board and lodge, free exercise, plenty of sunshine and I'm still alive.
AMANPOUR: That's a good way to put it.
But let me ask you about what Mr. Mandela said about his -- what he learnt there and what he did when he came out.
He said, "I know people expected me to harbor hatred against whites. But I had none. In prison, my anger towards whites decreased by my hatred for the system grew."
MAHARAJ: That is true. We all went through the experience and I think that out of our movement, not more than 5 percent came out bitter. I think it is because of where we came from we evolved our struggle towards realizing that South Africa belongs to all black and white. We had striven to drive and resolve the problems by discussion. We turned to the armed struggle and still said in our manifesto, this is a last-minute invitation to let's talk.
AMANPOUR: Now as we see all these live pictures of the ongoing outpouring of celebration and farewell outside Mandela's home, where he died here in Johannesburg, I want to ask you about the fact that he did reach out and the fact that many -- and still, even in the latter years, thought he conceded too much, thought that he was too willing to negotiate with the oppressor.
MAHARAJ: That is a misperception of people who think that we could have --
AMANPOUR: And some people have said it.
MAHARAJ: -- well, those who say it do not understand the calamity that our country was facing. Our country could have been reduced to ashes through a bloodbath. Rwanda would have been child's play if we had a race warrior. And there were times that that we were on the brink of that.
When Chris Hani was assassinated, we were on that brink.
AMANPOUR: Just before the election of '94.
MAHARAJ: And nobody could -- 1963, we had no agreement yet sealed on the table. And Mandela went on television, and he said, "Today a white man came from abroad and murdered our hero, but also today a white woman informed us who had done the killing." And he appealed to the people, "Keep your mind focused."
We had dreamt of an insurrection. And an insurrection movement was possible. But it was the leadership of Mandela and the ANC which said, no, keep your eyes trained on the negotiation. And we found a formula, a bridge to majority rule and democracy by conceding a government of national unity for five years.
AMANPOUR: Of course, that was 1993. But let me ask you specifically, because to me this is just unbelievable how Constand Viljoen came and wanted to sort of have a rebellion or a civil war and yet it was Nelson Mandela who went to him and convinced him not to.
MAHARAJ: It was always our approach --
AMANPOUR: And he was the defense minister, is that right?
MAHARAJ: No, he was the --
AMANPOUR: (INAUDIBLE) security (INAUDIBLE).
MAHARAJ: -- one-time chief of security --
MAHARAJ: -- chief of staff. But he had now retired from that position and as a general with a tremendous reputation and a high regard amongst the soldiers, and he had mobilized this. But our discussions were honed and Mandela honed himself by understand the enemy. He taught me in prison and forced me to study Afrikaans and read Afrikaans poetry.
He said, "If you are to ambush the forces, the general on the other side, you need to know how he thinks."
And he studied Afrikaner history and said to (INAUDIBLE), yes, you have superior forces. But you won't win the war. You may win the battle. And but never forever.
And this made an impact, because he said, "Look back at your own history." What we learnt by looking at the history of whites, which Mandela epitomized, was that the result of the war between the Afrikaner and the British have left a legacy of hatred.
And we wanted to avoid that.
AMANPOUR: And that forgiveness is obviously what he is most revered for.
Let's fast forward now, 20 years since those first elections; the promise has not fully been met. There is still a lot of wishes, really, that the current leadership of the ANC would be able to match that kind of heroic activity of Mandela.
What do you think -- and you're spokesman to the current president -- what are the challenges now?
MAHARAJ: We were conditioned for more than three centuries, every ethnic group, to think only of their own and see the other with hatred and fear. We cannot remove that in 19 years. It is a project that we have to work at.
We inherited poverty and unemployment in a world economy that is riddled with crises. You cannot build that in 19 years. What we have achieved so far is more than what any other country in its first 19 years of independence has achieved.
And I think that we have got a lot of mistakes, a lot of acts of omission and as well as (INAUDIBLE). But that's in the nature of work in progress. What is important is that we should be able to look at ourselves and see how to correct it and find the line of march (ph).
AMANPOUR: Mac Maharaj, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
MAHARAJ: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And not only was Nelson Mandela the father of modern post- apartheid South Africa, he was also the father of an enormous family, with six children by two wives, 17 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Now it's well known that his family deeply resented his absence from home and his devotion to the cause. It's something he tried to make up to the younger generation of Mandelas.
This photo just released is believed to be the last ever taken of him, and he's seen back in May holding hands with one of those great-grandchildren, 3-year-old Lewanika.
And after a break, what was it like for whites who opposed apartheid? I'll talk to South Africa's legendary journalist, Max Du Preez. He started the first Afrikaner anti-apartheid newspaper back in 1988.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, live tonight from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Now that South Africa is a Rainbow Nation, it may be hard for many to remember the brutality of the apartheid regime, much of it unfolding on the streets while Mandela was behind bars. After his release, he said that in prison, as we already mentioned, his hatred for whites decreased but his hatred for the system grew.
Black anti-apartheid protesters had their whole community behind them; whites who joined the anti-apartheid movement were all too often shunned by their communities.
Mac Du Preez, a journalist, was one of the first to bring the stark realities of apartheid's cruelty to the insulated white population. In 1988, he started the first Afrikaans newspaper to write about the government's official policy of violence and humiliation. More than 20 years later, he says, his country's psyche is still deeply scarred by apartheid, and he joins me now from Cape Town.
Welcome to the program, Mr. Du Preez. Let me ask you first how did you come to decide to establish this paper and to take on your system?
MAX DU PREEZ, SOUTH AFRICAN JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: I was convinced if Afrikaans-speaking South Africans heard the full story of apartheid and heard the voices of -- the authentic voices of the leaders of South Africa, the ANC and the UDF, that they would think again about the viability and the morality of apartheid.
I thought they -- they were told the story that apartheid was separate development of races, of ethnic groups. And not that it was a violent ideology. And if we showed them the townships, we showed them the people and we showed them the violence with which apartheid had to be applied that that would start making a difference, and prepare their minds for a kind of a negotiated solution.
AMANPOUR: And do you feel it did? Do you feel you were successful in that regard?
DU PREEZ: It's hard to say what we ended up doing was exposing a lot of death squads in the police and disappearances and murders and assassinations, which, I think, drove the point home that this is not a peaceful way. This is a highly immoral way to live. And I think we appeal to a -- we started a moral debate also.
One of the main reasons why the Afrikaners in power changed their minds and started negotiating was the economic situation, which was dire; the sport boycotts, the international boycotts. But there was also a beginning to be a moral debate, especially in the climate change, in academic circles.
And we fed very strongly into that and put pressure on the government. They couldn't any longer sell the story that we're fight against the Communists and we're fighting for Christian civilization because we had shown in Afrikaans what apartheid's face really was.
AMANPOUR: Now how difficult was it to actually tell the story? Because obviously for a long time, the ANC was banned; any mention of them was banned. The name Nelson Mandela was banned. I mean, I've heard stories of white South Africans who didn't really hear about what was going on or hear the name Mandela until they had left the country.
How difficult was just getting that -- those names and that news across?
DU PREEZ: Yes. I think there was a remarkable absence of understanding of what was really going on. The ANC was a banned organization, so we could not quote them, could not publish pictures of them. There couldn't address meetings. They were in exile and in neighboring states. So white South Africans had really lived in a bubble and we wanted to pierce that bubble and say you need to know. You can't just, when you go overseas, look back and see, oh, my goodness; this is the real face of South Africa. We want you to say to people, this is the real face of South Africa. And it is in your interests to embrace change and to embrace a new move toward democracy.
AMANPOUR: You've said that Nelson Mandela wasn't just a gift from heaven, that it was a much bigger situation than that.
What did you mean by that?
DU PREEZ: Well, I think there's are too many South Africans, especially white South Africans, but especially people from overseas, who had this view that Africa is the Dark Continent of famine and AIDS and civil war and Idi Amin and Mobutu Sese Seko and suddenly after 1990, there was this man who was loved more than anybody else in the world, revered more than anybody else. He was the biggest icon. And he was a black man from Africa. And so the tendency was to treat him as an exception. He was an aberration. It's not really -- they're not really like that. He's a special guy. He's some kind of angel, some kind of saint.
And I've always made the point -- and he has made the point, Mr. Mandela, that he is a product of Africa, of Africa, of South African society, of South African culture. And he's not a fluke. They are Mandela -- they have been Mandelas before him, Mandela figures before him. Hopefully, there will be Mandela figures again. They are among us. We have a little bit of Mandela in us. He was just the right guy at the right time, but with a very special gift, to build bridges, to reassure people, to take his own people with him and put all those things together and you'd have the magic that happened in 1994.
AMANPOUR: And very briefly and finally, Mr. Du Preez, do you fear for post-Mandela South Africa?
Do the whites fear? Or do you think South Africa's well on its way to just continuing along its path?
DU PREEZ: Yes, I -- there's a lot of talk here of an African spring or becoming a failed state. And I think that's (INAUDIBLE) paranoia. (INAUDIBLE) systems are strong in South Africa. The institutions are strong. The judiciary is strong. Our constitution is untouchable. Democracy and freedom are written into the hearts of the people. And we are struggling with a lot of things, especially with political leadership at the moment. So we may have not such a good government; but as a people, we are doing fine. And there is no way that, in my lifetime, we're going to see a banana republic, a failed state, a Zimbabwe-type situation.
And this -- the end of the Mandela era is a reminder to all of us what we are capable of as a people. And that's what we're talking about in the last few days, and will for the next few days, is carrying that in our hearts. He gave us confidence that we're not some little forgotten nation somewhere in Dark Africa. We're kind of special; we can do what other nations can do. We can be a successful nation.
AMANPOUR: Max Du Preez, thank you very much for joining me from Cape Town.
And in the United States, during the apartheid -- or rather the anti- apartheid struggle, along with boycotts and divestments, campus protesters played a big part in isolating South Africa and forcing it to change. We'll hear about those student demonstrations from a former campus activist, Patrick Gaspard, who is now America's ambassador to South Africa. That's when we return.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, where we are live tonight from Johannesburg in South Africa. You can see pictures of all those days of prayer, memorial service that were heard and held over the weekend and of course still there is a huge crowd outside the home here in Johannesburg, where Nelson Mandela lived his last month and, in fact, where he died.
Joining me now is Patrick Gaspard, who is the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, but as a young teenager, he joined fellow Americans in the anti- apartheid struggle and in 1986 after mounting pressure, Congress passed a bill banning U.S. investments in South Africa and demanding the release of Nelson Mandela.
Ambassador Gaspard, thank you for joining me.
PATRICK GASPARD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: It's obviously a moment of sorrow but also celebration for an incredible life. It also must take you back to those days where you and all your fellow activists played a part in bringing democracy to South Africa.
GASPARD: It does take me all the way back. And I have to tell you that back then we felt like Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill. And it wasn't clear whether or not our actions would really make a difference. But of course, sanctions bill passed; that was transformative, had an impact here and it taught many of us that collective action mattered and being an engaged part of democracy really was impactful as well.
AMANPOUR: You're an American; it's hard and weird for me to here you say it was like Sisyphus to move this ball of justice up the hill, because there was a lot of opposition in the United States to basic sanctions.
GASPARD: Well, including from the President of the United States at the time, Ronald Reagan was very clear. We were living in the specter of the Cold War. And Ronald Reagan was very determined about what engagement ought to look like with South Africa. Some of us had a different view.
But when you're a kid, when you're a teenager and the President of the United States is saying this is the way we ought to go, it's hard to be clear that you could be successful.
But we eventually got there.
AMANPOUR: What was it like? What was it like on campus; what was it like getting people to divest, what was it like -- I don't know whether you were, but many were arrested outside the South African embassy in Washington.
GASPARD: And I started fairly young. And -- I shouldn't say this with my mother watching, but I cut high school in order to go to demonstrations. The first time that I was involved was 1983 and there was a very large protest in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza outside of the U.N. And I went with a group of friends, kind of on a lark, got swept up. Reverend Jackson was there at the time. He spoke and I got inspired. And then after that, I just continued to be involved right up until civil disobedience actions in front of the South African embassy culminating in the victory in '86. And of course --
AMANPOUR: That's the bill, is it, the '86 Congress, yes.
GASPARD: -- which President Reagan then vetoed and then we demonstrated again and Congress overrode his veto.
AMANPOUR: And I guess history will say that it made a big difference. But here often they say, no, the sanctions, it wasn't about the sanctions. We were going to do this anyway.
How important were the sanctions in focusing the mind of the apartheid (INAUDIBLE)?
GASPARD: Well, let's remember that Nelson Mandela himself not only said that the sanctions were critical, but even once he was released, he asked the United States and other governments to continue to maintain the sanctions because he thought that gave him real leverage in the negotiations.
We also know that the economy here was also teetering at that point and the apartheid regime understood that they were in a ditch if they didn't make some concessions and changes.
So those concessions were deeply impactful.
AMANPOUR: Fast forward now, 20 years since the first election, of course, in 1994. Many South Africans, black and white, say we are on a solid path to a democratic future, one of reconciliation. But still there are deep inequities here in South Africa, particularly between blacks, poor, poor blacks, very rich blacks, still the might of the economy is held in white hands and in white businesses, by and large. Still there is terrible corruption within the ANC and in all sorts of ways here, even President Obama himself alluded to that.
What do they have to do to make this not a wasted opportunity and to continue making South Africa the engine of Africa?
GASPARD: Well, there's no way that it will be a wasted opportunity, Christiane. Before I came here, I spent several hours with a group of young South Africans between the ages of 17 and 26, young leaders, super smart, young entrepreneurs, artists, lawyers in training, who, to a person, told me that they had some concerns about income disparities in this country. They had some concerns about the health of politics. But they were all recommitting themselves to their role in the participatory democracy. And they were certain they were going to turn the corner.
When President Obama was here, he talked about the profound challenges that exist; but he also talked about the arc of transformation and the accomplishments as well. And I know that with a vibrant media here, active and engaged citizenry, who are asking all the right questions that democracy will continue to thrive in South Africa.
AMANPOUR: Now I know you're the ambassador and you have to be diplomatic. Obviously the ANC has ruled pretty undisputed for the last 20 years.
Is there space for more parties, more successful parties to challenge the ANC, parties that are maybe white parties?
GASPARD: What we've actually seen in the very recent past, some gains by other parties in this country, Democratic Alliance had real gains in the last legislative cycle in South Africa. And right now, judging by how heated the debate is in Pretoria and in JoBurg, they're making strides in Gauteng as well.
So clearly, while the ANC is the dominant party in this country, there are other voices here that are asking lots of questions and making alternate proposals about the future of this country and it's a debate that I'm looking forward to continuing to engage in.
AMANPOUR: And just very quickly, we have -- so we have to wrap right now, but tomorrow the big soccer stadium memorial, President Obama and three other American presidents, along with world leaders from everywhere, what is it going to be like in that stadium tomorrow?
GASPARD: You know, I think it's going to be absolutely electric, Christiane. I spent the last few days in Soweto, outside of Mandela House, a street of Nobel Prize winners -- Desmond Tutu lived on this street as well once -- and people are out there, not in a somber mood, but in a celebratory mood. They are out there saying this man did incredible things and together we're going to continue to carry forth that legacy. You're going to see hundreds of thousands of people in that spirited exuberance, reflective but celebratory. It's going to be incredible.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Patrick Gaspard, thank you for joining me.
GASPARD: Thank you for joining me on.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
And while the world does celebrate his life, those closest to Nelson Mandela acutely feel his absence. Zelda la Grange was Mandela's former personal assistant. And she talked to CNN's Robyn Curnow about her sadness. But she also remembered the good time. Take a listen.
ZELDA LA GRANGE, MANDELA'S PERSONAL ASSISTANT: We were actually reminiscing last night about some of the funny things and these things of humor. So those things will all come back as we deal with his passing on.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: What was it like when you saw him for the last time? Did you know you were saying goodbye?
LA GRANGE: At the time, I didn't. But I made sure that I said the things that needed to be said.
CURNOW: Do you think he heard you?
LA GRANGE: Yes.
CURNOW: What did you say?
LA GRANGE: No, I told him I loved him.
CURNOW: Was it hard seeing him like that?
LA GRANGE: Yes.
AMANPOUR: She also spoke of the amazing ability of Nelson Mandela to bring people together.
After a break, can that same spirit bring an entire continent together? The view from the president of Ghana when we come back.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, where we're live tonight from Johannesburg, South Africa, and where we can still see live pictures of all those people who continue to gather outside the home of Nelson Mandela here in Johannesburg, where he lived his last months and where he died last week on Thursday.
The nation, of course, is gearing up for a week of celebration and commemoration of his life, a massive memorial service is set for tomorrow in the Johannesburg soccer stadium, 90,000 seats are even not likely enough to fit all those who wish to attend.
And five days later there will be a state funeral, and that will be held in Mandela's ancestral hometown of Qunu.
In the aftermath of his death there has been an outpouring of appreciate from leaders all over the world, who were somehow touched and inspired by the man.
Now some of this praise has come from most unlikely quarters, for instance the day after his death, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad posted praise on his Facebook page. And over the years when I've interviewed two of the most authoritarian, not to mention longest serving African leaders, they also claim to have a special place in their hearts for Mandela. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you a question about Nelson Mandela?
ROBERT MUGABE, PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: He's a great man, that one, yes.
In Africa, I admire Nelson Mandela because he has carried out very important work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But of course, Nelson Mandela made his mark most on the leaders of countries committed to reconciliation, freedom and democracy, like Ghana, which has had five peaceful elections in a row.
John Dramani Mahama is the country's president now; he's delivering a lecture on the future of Africa in New York, and I reached him there a short time ago just before he left to board a plane to come here for tomorrow's memorial.
AMANPOUR: President Mahama, thank you very much for joining me.
JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA, PRESIDENT OF GHANA: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Nelson Mandela had a huge impact on your life. Tell me how. What were you doing when he was in jail and struggling?
I was just five years old when he was sent to jail. He was 45 years. And as the whole world knows, he stayed in prison for 27 years and came out when he was 72. Growing up as a young student in secondary school, Nelson Mandela was an icon for us because my country, Ghana, was at the forefront of deliberations struggle. And so all issues to do with the liberation of the continent were very popular at the time.
And so we marched; we held demonstrations in support of him until he was released from prison in 1990.
AMANPOUR: And then afterwards, when you were considerably older, you did run into him.
Did you actually meet him? What did you say to him?
MAHAMA: It was a chance meeting and I remember vividly up until today, I was minister of communications of Ghana and I went to Cape Town for a conference on communications. And we had gone out to into town. And I came back to the hotel and was standing right in front of the lift, going back up to my room.
And when the lift arrived and opened, President Mandela stepped out. I actually had to step aside to give him way. And he was accomplished by two people. I was shocked; I was frozen. I couldn't utter a word. He nodded in my direction. I was so shocked I couldn't nod in response. And he just walked past me and right into the car. I mean, after he left, I felt strange. I mean, this was a man I had revered over the years. I had marched for him. I had demonstrated for him. I held placards calling for his release. And then the opportunity to meet him, I was so frozen I couldn't even talk to him.
AMANPOUR: I guess you and many people of your generation may have expected this explosion of rage from him when he emerged from jail. But that didn't happen.
How did you compute that? How did you come to terms with this incredible forgiveness and reconciliation with the oppressors? You were all in some way or another in Africa going through white colonial or minority rule.
MAHAMA: Yes, indeed, he follows a tradition of several African leaders, who have used forgiveness and compassion to try and build their nation states. And I think that Mandela just followed in that track, Jomo Kenyatta, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and several of our leaders, mirrored all of them. At the end of the liberation struggle, you know, use forgiveness and compassion to bring their nations together. And I think that that's the tradition that President Mandela followed.
I mean, to have spent the prime of his life from 45 to 72 in prison, and come out and just not be bitter, just let the bitterness dissolve and say that everybody had a right to live in a free South Africa and enjoy the opportunities. I think that that was a mark of a great man.
AMANPOUR: Now you're coming for the memorial service here in Johannesburg tomorrow at the big soccer stadium. And everything will be about tribute and legacy.
What is his legacy? What was his stamp on the African continent?
MAHAMA: I think that Nelson Mandela will be right up there with all the great Africans who took part in the liberation struggle, President Nkrumah, President Kaunda is still alive, President Nyerere and all the others, I think he will be right up there with all of them. President Mandela's legacy I guess would live longer for him.
I mean, the man in life was history and so even in death he will continue to inspire a continent to continue to create a better life for all the people in our country.
AMANPOUR: I've interviewed many people, including some of the longest serving African leaders -- some might call them dictators, even, whether it's Mugabe of Zimbabwe, whether it's President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea and even they, years ago when I asked them, who are their heroes or who did they admire, they said Mandela.
How does it strike you that people who don't actually follow his lead actually admire him? Is there a little bit of irony there? Is there a lesson for people to take?
MAHAMA: I think that there's a lesson for people to take, but people take the different things that Mandela teaches us and use them as they wish. But certainly one of the legacies he left us is that after he came out of prison, he got elected president of South Africa and he did one term in office; there was a lot of pressure from the chiefs and the people in South Africa for him to continue and do a second term. And he decline.
What it teaches us is that we come, we play our part and we leave it to the next generation. We must prepare the next generation of leaders to take over from us. I don't think that -- I mean, any one person has all the answers to the challenges that our individuals countries face.
AMANPOUR: When you look around the world, give me three places -- let me make it easier. When you look around the world, give me one place that you look at right now that is riven by ethnic religious conflict that could actually take a lesson out of the Mandela playbook.
MAHAMA: Actually, there are several; I mean, currently the African forces are going in Central African Republic to try and avert a humanitarian crisis there. French troops have also gone in to try and abate a humanitarian crisis. You remember Central African Republic and the various rulers that it has had from Emperor Bokassa, you know, Bokassa actually crowned himself emperor.
And since then there have been a long line of dictators in that country. And so that is one country, I guess, that can learn the legacy of President Mandela.
There are several others, I guess, and I think that at this present moment they should all be looking at his life and not only celebrating his life, but emulating his life.
AMANPOUR: Well, certainly Ghana has had many, many successful democratic elections and President Mahama, we appreciate you being on this program tonight. Thank you for joining me.
MAHAMA: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now you heard the president there say that the CAR could learn a lesson; indeed, South Africa lost 14 of its soldiers trying to restore peace there recently. Now the U.N. has sent more French and African forces, as he said, to stem the violence.
Also the U.S. has stepped up its involvement and we will have a live report next from the Central African Republic.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. In May of 1994, when Nelson Mandela was being inaugurated as the first black president of South Africa, to the north in Rwanda, a terrible genocide was taking place with at least 800,000 people killed in 100 days.
As the world now heads to South Africa for Mandela's memorial, another civil war, this time in the Central African Republic, has diplomats vowing not to let such atrocities happen again. French troops have just arrived in an attempt to disarm militia.
CNN's Nima Elbagir is on the ground in Bossangoa and she witnessed the violence unfolding over this past week.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as the U.N. Security Council was voting to give France a mandate it needed to engage here in the Central African Republic, Christian and Muslim militias were taking aim at each others' communities.
For the last 20-30 minutes, we've been hearing sustained gunfire, (INAUDIBLE) hearing some heavy weaponry. It's coming from a lot of different directions. Oh! And that was an (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nima! Nima!
ELBAGIR: I'm here, I'm here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down.
ELBAGIR: I'm here! I'm here! Where are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
ELBAGIR: All right, they've told us to go. They've told us to go. (INAUDIBLE).
(INAUDIBLE) as you can see them. They're getting cover so the U.N. vehicles can get out.
We've now been (INAUDIBLE) to the (INAUDIBLE) base. The fighting is still quite close even here. Some of the displaced people (INAUDIBLE) with the African forces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bonjour, madame.
ELBAGIR: We have finally had some respite after two days of (INAUDIBLE) clash, the African regional peacekeeping force (INAUDIBLE) was able to negotiate a brief cease-fire to allow aid agencies to get out there and assess the needs.
They're running low on food; they running low on water. They desperately need some sort of proper shelter. They desperately need medicine and they can't leave this camp. They are effectively under siege by the Seleka militias. The only line of defense between them and the Seleka now are the African forces guarding them.
ROBERT MCCARTHY, UNICEF EMERGENCY CHIEF, CAR: You know, the rights of children, women, need to be respected. And they're not being respected. And we can't do our work. And there's frankly little prospect for moving out of this situation unless people, and especially leaders, people who are armed, people who are responsible for armed men, recognize that and begin to take those responsibilities seriously.
ELBAGIR: They're shooting again.
The shooting started again, so everybody's having to run for shelter inside.
We should take the other one.
The children are all squashed here, so there's no room for us.
You can see how terrified people are, even here, inside these walls, surrounded by soldiers. They are still not safe.
AMANPOUR: And Nima joins us now live from Bossangoa, where French troops have now arrived and as we come on air right now, news that the U.S. military is to fly more African Union troops to the region.
So, Nima, what do you know about the stepped-up U.S. involvement here now?
ELBAGIR: Well, the sense we're getting here, Christiane, is that the escalating violence here in Bossangoa has forced France's hand. Initially the plan was that they were going to focus on stabilizing the capital, Bangui, and then slowly spread out towards the region. But the death toll that we've been seeing, the spiral of retaliatory attacks between the Muslim Seleka militias and the Christian militias, that's -- French troops have to move up here far quicker than they expected to. And they've had to travel light. Only about 120 men came into town. For now, that seems to be enforcing a tense but calm cease-fire between the two sides.
But the reality is that not only are they going to need to sustain that but they're going to need to push further out where about 120,000-130,000 people we understand have been hiding in the bush for the last six months, Christiane. And that's where the U.S. comes in.
Yesterday evening, the U.S. secretary of state for defense received a call from the French prime minister, requesting their help in deploying other African Union troops and other French troops so that they can build up the numbers and hold some of these positions.
AMANPOUR: And Nima, it's such an incredible difference from 20 years in Rwanda, where the U.N. Security Council did not authorize any troops, and look what happened in Rwanda.
Do you think this might have an effect now that the U.N. Security Council is stepping up to the plate? For instance, what have the French been able to do so far? Have they been able to disarm some of those militias?
ELBAGIR: Well, what they seem to have been doing is really going big. You know, we've had French military jets flying overhead almost every day since the French presence was officially sanctioned by the U.N. They've been patrolling around town. They've been a very visible presence.
But of course, that's not enough in the long term. Even with the African Union troops back up, even with the U.S. flying in as many as reinforcements as they can get, the reality is that we've been speaking to Seleka commanders and they say, OK. For now, we're going to retreat back into these areas of containment. But this is our country. And one commander put it to me.
He said when they want us to leave power, they'd better have killed us. That's really what you're dealing with here. And maybe that's why the U.S. has decided to move in, so they can hit quickly, hit hard and then neutralize these people, put them into a position where perhaps they can be forced to the negotiating table.
AMANPOUR: Nima, thank you very much indeed for all the work that you're doing there, including being dive-bombed by insects, who are attracted to your lights there. Thank you very much.
And remember, you can stay up to date with what we're doing on the show at our website, amanpour.com. And there you can find more on a hugely encouraging development out of Egypt.
Last week, I spoke to Alaa Eldin Ezzat. Now his daughter, Ola, was one of 21 young women and girls picked up by police at a pro-Muslim Brotherhood protest in Alexandria. They were each sentenced to 11 years and one month in prison.
But today there was some judicial common sense because we've heard that they've all been released.
Now you can head to amanpour.com to watch my interview with Ola's father, as I said, Mr. Ezzat, who told me that he raised his daughter to speak her mind freely but always to be peaceful.
After a break, some leaders pass silently into oblivion. And of course we know that won't happen here. Throughout South Africa, crowds are broken into spontaneous shows of affection, dancing and singing to celebrate a life lived to the fullest.
And after a break, the vital role of music on Nelson Mandela's fight for freedom, when we come back.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where music helped keep a revolution and its leader alive. In all the tributes to Nelson Mandela, it isn't just the gravitas of the man, but it's his humor and joy that touch us the most, the same infectious spirit that touched a nation and led to reconciliation instead of revenge.
During his 27 years in prison, it was music like that of his countryman, Hugh Masekela, that brought the name Nelson Mandela to the world's attention and never let it die.
AMANPOUR: But it wasn't just his fellow Africans who spread the musical message. In Britain, a young white musician named Jerry Dammers gave the anti-apartheid movement an anthem, "Free Nelson Mandela."
AMANPOUR: And his band, The Specials, recorded it and performed it at Mandela's birthday celebration. However, at the same time that Mandela was breaking rocks on Robben Island, apartheid's apologists tried to use music to bolster their power base, inviting stars like Frank Sinatra to perform at the glittering casino resort called Sun City.
In a countermove, the raucous Steve van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and "The Sopranos" encouraged the rock 'n' roll community to impose a musical boycott, keeping up the pressure on the South African government.
But the battle lines became blurred when Paul Simon breached the boycott to bring his "Graceland" tour to South Africa, performing with people like Hugh Masekela himself and the great Miriam Makeba. Concert.
AMANPOUR: Concerts that brought black and white together and once again focused the world's attention on apartheid.
Johnny Clegg, a South African musician who had risked jail himself by forming the nation's first integrated rock band in the 1970s, created another anthem for Mandela, "Asimbonanga," which means, "we haven't seen him."
It was only fitting.
AMANPOUR: It was only fitting that nine years after his release from prison, after becoming South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela made a surprise appearance on stage with him, dancing to his own anthem and expressing what music meant to him.
NELSON MANDELA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: It is our music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world.
AMANPOUR: The man, the music he inspired and that inspired him, and that's it for our special program tonight. Remember, you can always contact us at amanpour.com and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. And of course we'll be here with all the reporting from the memorial service tomorrow. Thanks for watching and goodbye from Johannesburg.