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Interview With Acting President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani; Interview With Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Incoming World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.. Aired 11-11:40a ET
Aired February 12, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JULIA GILLARD, FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: If you are a young woman with aspirations, you can be part of the change, and you will find an
incredible sense of satisfaction.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Women at the top. Frank talk from the former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the WTO Director-General Ngozi
Okonjo-Iweala about what it takes.
VJOSA OSMANI, ACTING PRESIDENT OF KOSOVO: Going around your country and seeing all of the challenges that your people are facing, you truly
understand that you can make a difference.
AMANPOUR: Kosovo's acting president tells us how she rose from refugee to leader of Europe's youngest nation.
And making beautiful music. After filling the Internet with his amazing grace, Irish cellist Patrick Dexter gives us an open air recital to
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Democracies all over the world to being tested like never before, from the coup in Myanmar to crackdowns in Hong Kong or Russia. But from the United
States, the world's oldest democracy, to Kosovo, Europe's youngest nation, free and fair elections prove the battle isn't lost.
And these tumultuous times have reminded us that good leadership can make all the difference.
Just one example, most of the countries led by women have fared better during this COVID pandemic. And yet a woman's path to the top is still
riddled with obstacles, from everyday structural sexism to the challenges of child care.
So, how does that square with what the U.S. and Europe have called for, equity as part of the COVID recovery plan?
My first guests are tackling that question head on.
Julia Gillard was Australia's first female prime minister, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a former finance minister from Nigeria who is set to
become the first woman and the first African to lead the World Trade Organization.
When they joined me from Adelaide and Washington, we talked about their new book, "Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons."
AMANPOUR: Welcome, both of you, to the program.
Can I just start asking you, Ngozi, about -- the United States has now thrown its full support behind you, in line with all the other members. And
it looks like you are set to lead the World Trade Organization.
How does this feel? Tell me what it means to you at this time?
NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, INCOMING DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: Well, thank you, Christiane.
Well, it feels exciting, and it feels daunting. At the same time, I look forward to the challenge. Of course, it's going to be confirmed on Monday
There are a lot of challenges in front of the WTO. Deep reforms are needed, and to rebrand and reposition the organization, which is a very important
one. And I feel very humbled to have been supported by all the members.
AMANPOUR: What sort of things do you need to reform? What needs to happen in -- just give me an example of what you would like to see change there?
OKONJO-IWEALA: Well, one of the things, top priorities that I have that I'm passionate about is, how can trade under WTO play a stronger role in
bringing solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, both on the health side, but also on the economic side?
For economic recovery, we need trade. And also, in order to solve the public health problems, we also need good trade rules that will allow
access and equity for vaccines and therapeutics and diagnostics.
So, that's a big issue for me. How do we get the solutions to the present pandemic? There is a lot of inequality. Women are marginalized. Small and
medium enterprise owners, how do we get rules that can help us deal with issues of inequality and focus on people?
AMANPOUR: Julia Gillard, as I said, you and Ngozi have written a book, "Women and Leadership."
And you have focused on a number of specific women, including, in your region, Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand. I think you have
looked at Theresa May, the former prime minister of Great Britain. You have looked at Christine Lagarde, who was both finance minister in her country
and then head of the IMF and, before that, head of a major law firm in the United States.
What questions were you after? And what answers have you found?
GILLARD: What we aimed to do was to bring an analysis of the global research base about women in leadership and the barriers that are still in
women's way, and take that and look at the lived experience of major leaders in our world, and say, does the research stand up?
Much of the research is done under laboratory-style conditions, if I can use that terminology, universities researching attitudes to women leaders.
But we wanted to ask some of the most powerful women in the world, is this how you have seen it? Is this what your life has been like?
So, out of the research, we developed eight hypotheses we then put to eight global women leaders.
And that enabled us to look at a whole set of things, from the very early influences on women, what happened in their family homes, what enabled them
to come through for leadership, the tightrope they feel that they walk between strength and empathy, making sure that they look strong enough to
lead, but that they're still empathetic, because, intuitively, women leaders know that if they come across as too strong or too kind, too soft,
that they will be rejected for leadership.
We talked about the greater interest in family structures, in appearance. And we conclude with a whole range of change strategies. So, this is a book
not just for women who aspire for leadership, though it's certainly a book for them. But it's a book for everyone who's interested in a more gender-
equal world, with some very practical tips about what contribution you can make for change.
AMANPOUR: So, I wonder what you, Julia, learned maybe in retrospect, because you learned also on the job, I mean, 15 years in politics, prime
minister of your country, and even you had to slap down the notion of sexism and misogyny.
And to this day, young girls and women all over the world are still accessing that speech. And we're going to play a little bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GILLARD: I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not.
And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, not now, not ever.
The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynist are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the leader
of the opposition has got a piece of paper, and he is writing out his resignation, because, if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in
modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives. He needs a mirror.
That's what he needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is an extraordinary speech.
I guess, in retrospect, what did it tell you and the reaction to it about the questions and answers that you have come to in this book?
GILLARD: Well, the reaction to that speech has been in two dimensions.
I mean, I am astonished that, all of these years later, that we're still talking about it, and that it still resonates with young women as a bit of
a battle cry for gender equality. Of course, I'm delighted about that.
But, immediately after I gave the speech in Australia, the reaction was: Well, there she goes playing the gender card. You know, this is all
nonsense. She hasn't been treated any differently.
And that is something that we discussed with the women leaders who we interviewed. And it's something that still happens to women right around
the world today. And that means that women face a very difficult choice.
If they are the subject of sexism, do they call it out, when people will then say, oh, well, she would say that, wouldn't she, she's just
complaining, or do they say -- stay silent?
I'm proud I gave it. But it would have been better if, across my country, more people in that moment had stepped up and said, look, the way the prime
minister is being treated is clearly gendered. Let's get that out of our politics.
And that's the sort of movement for change we need to see now, where each of us takes responsibility for ending sexism in all walks of life, not just
politics, but everywhere.
AMANPOUR: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, I wonder.
You reached very high positions in your own country. You were minister, and you have had major world positions. What do you think, if anything, has
changed for women in Africa and women of color, whether African-Americans or around the world?
OKONJO-IWEALA: Well, Christiane, in the book, we say something about a sort of pecking order in the world, where you have white males and black
males, then white females, then black females.
So, for every gendered situation, it's so much so for women of color. And I think it's even harder to call out sexism and gendered attitudes for women
of color. You don't know whether it's gender, whether it's racism.
And things have improved, both within my continent and also worldwide. But the issue is that the pace of change is too slow. And I will just give one
Of the 193 members of the United Nations, only 57 have had women leaders. In 2000, there were four women leaders. Today, they are about maybe 13, 14.
And people will say, that's a lot of progress. But if we are to make progress at that pace, it will take us decades to get to equality with men.
And I think there's a cost to it, as an economist. I mean, McKinsey did a study showing that, if there were gender equality, the world would gain
another $28 trillion in output. So, it's not costless.
AMANPOUR: So, then talk to me about that, because it does make economic sense.
Famously, Christine Lagarde has said and she said to me, if you guys can't figure out the moral issue, she said to the world, well, at least focus on
the economic issue. Surely, you can understand dollars and cents.
OKONJO-IWEALA: Well, I think let's just say today, for every dollar a man earns globally, a woman earns 63 cents.
When you take a survey of people, they will say that women will make good leaders. But when you actually come to practice, you will find that they
don't elect women leaders at the same rate as they do men. So, there are these innate biases or attitudinal problems.
There are also structural issues, access to credit, access to means to empower themselves. And that holds them back, access to education for
And, Christiane, I want to say something. We need to talk to men in order to change things. It's not good enough to just talk to ourselves as women.
So, the book is also for men, because men can be -- can take action to improve this.
AMANPOUR: That's absolutely a fundamental point.
So, Julia, I'd like to just ask you about those eight hypotheses. And I'm going to ask you, which one do you think applied to you during your
GILLARD: Well, we have one hypotheses which we have very frankly entitled: "She's a bit of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)," which is an unpacking of the global
GILLARD: ... when we look at a woman who is exercising power, we can often conclude, because of the sexist whispers in the back of our brains, the
stereotyping that's in all of our brains, that, because she is commanding, because she's leading, she's given up on the female traits of empathy and
kindness, so she's probably pretty unlikable.
And getting to grips with the global research base and talking to other women leaders about this was a bit of a -- the penny-dropping moment for
me, because, of course, that surrounded me in politics. The Westminster system here in Australia is a very robust system.
The way people often see a prime minister is in question time, in those very adversarial moments, and they don't come to know you as a full,
rounded human being. So, it's pretty easy to get stuck on these sorts of stereotypes.
So, that was very meaningful for me personally.
In terms of an action agenda going forward. I'm very drawn to a chapter that we entitled "The Role Modeling Riddle," if we don't also talk about
the joy in leadership, that it gives you the opportunity to make change, to put your values into action, that we will put young women off.
So, I think that chapter has been for me a great reminder that, when we have discussions like this one, we have got to say, yes, there are many
things to fix, but please go for it. If you're a young woman with aspirations, you can be part of the change, and you will find an incredible
sense of satisfaction in being a driver in making a better world.
AMANPOUR: For all the hypotheses, for all the in-the-back-of-our-mind stereotypes we face as women, it is extraordinary, isn't it, that, in all
the countries led by women during this pandemic, they mostly had the best results.
They acted fast. They acted decisively. They communicated.
GILLARD: I think that is because successful women leaders do manage and have to combine strength and empathy.
And so they have been prepared to take the expert advice. They have been prepared to be rigorous about applying it. But they have also shown the
empathy, the understanding to their populations that this is tough, and people are going through some very difficult things.
And so having that sense that the leader understands what they're going through has been very crucial for people to keep adhering to the various
guidelines of what to do in the face of COVID.
And I also think it shows us that the complete converse style of leadership and ultra-macho style of leadership, a blustering style of leadership, not
looking at the facts, pretending that somehow you can outswagger a virus, that has been the style that has least worked at this time.
AMANPOUR: I like that, outswagger a virus. And there certainly many of the world's leaders who've done that.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, what about you? What is your thought on how well some of these countries with women leaders have done in this, the world's
greatest crisis in modern memory?
OKONJO-IWEALA: Well, Christiane, I think to -- tend to think that, in addition to what Julia said, there is an element of trust.
If you look at the women leaders, you will see that they are trusted by their populations. They are seen as that more transparent and fair. So,
when they come and they say, we really need to do this for the good of the nation, even when it's difficult, and I think that is what is at the bottom
AMANPOUR: And, finally, I want to ask you -- certain leaders who thought they could outswagger the virus.
One of them, obviously, was Donald Trump, the former president. And if you look at his own pollsters, they say that he lost that election because of
what they considered his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, for all sorts of swaggering reasons, he is being impeached and tried in the Senate. On the basis of accountability -- and you're a former
government leader -- just weigh in on that.
GILLARD: I think, in circumstances like this, it often helps to imagine it in a different context.
So, I would invite those who are making a judgment on impeachment to consider what would they be saying if this had happened in another nation?
What would the United States be using its voice in the world for if this had happened in another nation, and there had been incitement, there had
been a riot, there had been the potential for -- well, there were deaths, and the potential for even more violence and deaths?
What would they be saying about accountability? What would they expect that nation to do? And if you think about it like that, in some ways, I think
the question answers itself.
The United States has historically wanted its voice to be loud in the world around democratic norms and conduct.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And it does answer itself.
So, Ngozi, let me finish by asking you that same question, because it is very rare in your continent to see any leader held accountable, even for
rife corruption or loss of life.
What is your view on accountability at the height of the most powerful and oldest democracy in the world?
OKONJO-IWEALA: Well, Christiane, I believe, absolutely, that you cannot have good governance without accountability. And that's why things are
changing. The new generation are much less tolerant.
They want their leaders to be accountable. And that is why you see many civil society movements and people, young people coming out on the streets,
young people seeking a more democratic regime, where they can have voice.
So, I believe that if you're -- you want to be a leader, you have to be willing to be accountable to the people. And, again, in all our countries,
you have seen young people demanding that.
And let me just say that I'm very grateful to the Biden/Harris administration for coming forward and giving me such strong endorsement.
And all I'm going to say is, I look forward to the future and to the challenge of trying to rebrand the WTO, work with the membership to turn it
AMANPOUR: And let's just say that the Biden/Harris administration is the most diverse in the history of the United States. So, in terms of gender,
in terms of color, in terms of sexual preference, it is the most diverse in American history.
So, authors of "Women and Leadership," Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard, thank you both so much for joining me.
OKONJO-IWEALA: Thank you.
GILLARD: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we turn now to another female leader and her audacious rise to power.
Think back to 1999, when the United States intervened in the Balkans to prevent another genocide.
Vjosa Osmani was just a teenager when Serbian forces invaded her home in Kosovo, forcing her family to flee. Kosovo later declared its independence
from Serbia in 2008, with the strong backing of the United States.
And the young democracy has been tested repeatedly, including having its president indicted last November on war crimes charges.
Vjosa Osmani has been acting president since then, and hopes to keep the job when Kosovars head to the polls on Sunday.
And she is joining me now from Kosovo and the capital there.
Welcome to the program. It's good to have you on the program.
I just wanted to ask you, in terms of what we were saying with our previous guests about women's route to the top, and we have had a female president
in Kosovo before, but you're a completely younger generation.
What was it like for you to climb that political mountain?
OSMANI: Well, thank you, Christiane.
First of all, it's such an honor to be talking to someone that was reporting from Kosovo when all of us had been going through our darkest
moments and also put our life in danger for telling the truth.
I'm right now on the campaign trail, so I'm talking to you from Mitrovica, my hometown, where you have reported from also in the past. And I was
listening to the previous interview of yours with women who have also inspired me.
Kosovo has been through decades a very patriarchal society. But we have been working hard generation after generation to not just strengthen our
role in leadership, but also to tackle some of the biggest problems that all women, including those that are not in politics, are facing, such as
issues like economic empowerment of women, domestic violence and other issues.
Right now, we have 30 percent of women in our Parliament, but, of course, we're working for more until we achieve full equality.
AMANPOUR: What is the biggest structural problem you find, and I mean beyond gender, but just to meet the needs of the Kosovo people, to meet the
needs of young Kosovars?
I think you have a -- you're running on a reform platform, running on an anti-corruption platform. Talk to me about what is really hindering Kosovo
from reaching its full potential and to stopping quite a considerable brain drain.
OSMANI: Well, Kosovo went through horrendous war. But, after the war, unfortunately, the biggest problem that we have been facing has been crime
I'm running in a joint ticket with -- Mr. Kurti is running for prime minister and myself for president, in order to tackle this as the main
challenge. If you ask the people of Kosovo, in every single poll, they will be identifying two main problems.
One is the need to fight corruption. And the second one is jobs. But it's precisely this huge wall of corruption that was built throughout the years
that has been hindering progress in every other area, be it creation of jobs, especially for the younger generation, or increasing the capacities,
as well as the quality, in education and health.
So we need to entirely change the mind-set of governance. If we remove this wall of corruption, if we tear it down -- and we will once these elections
are over -- and with us joining forces, that is going to be even more so possible -- then our ideas with respect to investing in human capital,
because we have the youngest population in Europe, can be moving forward.
In that respect, one of the biggest pillars of our platform is the vetting process for the judiciary, as well as the security institutions, because,
if we have a politicized judiciary and prosecutor's office, where politicians, as well as people linked to crime, can interfere with people
who have to deliver justice, obviously, we cannot expect progress in any other area.
The people of Kosovo deserve so much better, especially our young generation, who, unfortunately, recently have been only looking at how to
get away from Kosovo. So, it is our obligation -- beyond as politicians and as people that are involved in these institutions, it's our obligation as
human beings to do everything in our capacity to create a perspective for the young generation in Kosovo, so that jobs can be achieved through
meritocracy, where there is justice for all and where politicians are not above justice, and treated differently from the ordinary citizens.
So, these are some of the main aspects of what we're running on. And we have been getting enormous support from the people of Kosovo, which I hope
will be formalized on the 14th of February, when our elections are taking place.
AMANPOUR: Yes, that's this Sunday.
So, let me ask you this, because, as you correctly say, I was reporting on Kosovo and, before that, Bosnia. So, I saw all this take place, including
the U.S. intervention.
And now, as you know better than I do, there's a statue of President Clinton in Pristina, the capital. And the U.S. has backed your
But your most powerful neighbor, Serbia, has not recognized you. There are still issues between Serbia and Kosovo. And Russia, which backs Serbia,
obviously, and China have also not backed this at the United Nations.
So, I guess my question is, as well as trying to cater to your own people, how do you get past this global resistance to your independence, to your
freedom? Do you think that you, as a president, could come to some agreement with a rather reluctant Serbia?
OSMANI: It has been a very challenging decade for us, Christiane.
We have declared independence in 2008. And with the support of the United States primarily, we have achieved recognition from the majority of
nations, the majority of democratic nations around the world, and we have already managed to enter a number of international organizations.
Kosovo has also extended its hands of cooperation to Serbia, and sat down in a dialogue with Serbia, leaving no stone unturned. However, Serbia is
proving the opposite. Unfortunately, despite the crimes that it's committed against the people of Kosovo, although they are still in a state of denial
and not asking for forgiveness or putting people in front of justice for the crimes committed, they are still moving ahead on their European Union
So, I think a precondition for us to move on is justice, justice for the victims. Almost 13,000 people have been killed in Kosovo, civilians. We
have the highest number of children killed per capita in the wars of former Yugoslavia. Around 20,000 women have been raped.
And there's no single case where a person that committed a rape, where a Serbian police officer or a military officer that committed the rape has
been put in front of justice and where justice was delivered.
So, obviously, what we want is not revenge. We want justice as a precondition for peace and reconciliation. And once these elections are
over, together with Prime Minister Kurti, of course, we will again show our willingness to sit down with Serbia.
But we will be telling the truth and nothing but the truth. And the rest of the world has seen the truth, mostly through CNN and through you and
reporters like you.
And we know who waged the wars, and we know that it was the civilian victims that suffered more. Of course, we want to move ahead. We want to
move towards the future, because that's what not just the people of Kosovo, but also what the people of the entire region deserve.
But, as I said, for sustainable peace, for reconciliation, justice is the precondition. It's almost impossible to turn to the next chapter without
reading the one that is in front of you first.
AMANPOUR: Yes, President Osmani, I want to ask you, though, in my remaining time, again, you were a teenager or just about to be a teenager
during the war. And you have a dramatic story yourself about the attacks by the Serbs against the Kosovar population.
And you experienced the U.S. intervention. Talk to me about what you experienced at that time. And I think you marched and tried to cross the
border into Macedonia or Albania.
OSMANI: Like most Kosovars around the world, around Kosovo, I grew up in a place where we were not allowed to speak our language. We were not allowed
to go to school. Our parents were kicked out of their jobs just because of our nationality.
So, there was an apartheid-like system that existed from '89, when Milosevic rose to power, until 1999, when NATO intervened and stopped the
war. During the war, obviously, we saw hell with our own eyes. We lost people that we loved. People that we loved were killed in front of our own
And as, I said, we were defenseless and suppressed people. At those most difficult times, the United States was the country that stood by us. You
were our voice when we had no voice. And, for that reason, the people have Kosovo are eternally grateful. And the special relationship that we have
with the United States is something that we very much cherish, we want to preserve, protect, and further enhance.
But, as I said, it is the job of all of us that are in the institutions right now, it's also a moral obligation, that we ask for justice for what
happened during the war.
And we, of course, have gone through horrible times. But we don't want to only be remembered as a synonym of war and afterwards as a synonym of lots
of corruption, affairs by certain politicians.
We have such a huge potential...
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you --
OSMANI: -- with the youngest population in Europe that can be brilliant as they are whenever they cross borders.
AMANPOUR: Very, very quickly, you talk about justice, and one of the reasons that you are running is because your predecessor, Hashim Thaci, who
I also know and covered, who was a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army and then went into politics has resigned in order to face charges at a special
court on war crimes allegedly committed.
So, you know, you're calling for Serbian, you know, crimes to be held accountable. Describe what Hashim Thaci is going through right now in this
OSMANI: Well, first of all, there can be no more equivalency between what Serbia did, because that was a state-sponsored oppression, state-sponsored
crimes that were committed. What happened after the war in Kosovo, obviously, it's something that the parliament of Kosovo has formed a
specialist chambers for. They are situated at the Hague.
We believe in international justice. And as I said at the beginning, there was only one truth that happened in Kosovo, and this was that Serbia
committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Every single politician, every single leader of Kosovo has proven that they are ready to
answer to international justice. And of course, Kosovo will be waiting for that work to finally finish its proceedings. But as I said, the truth
cannot be changed because it happened in front of the rest of the -- of the eyes of the rest of the world.
AMANPOUR: All right.
OSMANI: And we will continue to call for justice for all the civilian victims.
AMANPOUR: OK. Really important, and we will keep an eye on the elections. Vjosa Osmani, thank you very much for joining us.
And finally, we head into the weekend with the sound of music from the West Coast of Ireland where cellist, Patrick Dexter, has been breathing fresh
air into COVID lockdowns, literally posting videos of himself outside in the sun and the wind by his charming cottage and also his stunningly
beautiful backdrop. In all weather and sometimes with his dog right beside him, Dexter plays classical folk and even pop.
His videos has been viewed millions of times. And here he is performing Schubert's "Ave Maria."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Patrick Dexter is joining us now. Welcome to the program. We are so happy to have you on our program today.
Just how did this come about? What made you suddenly go outside in the cold and the wind and the rain and decide to do this?
PATRICK DEXTER, CELLIST: Well, thank you so much for having me. Yes. So, last year, it happened really 2020. Last March, I was mostly working as a
teacher and a performer and schools closed all of the sudden, and of course, all performing ended. So, I had a lot of time at home. I was also
anticipating the birth of my first child, my baby daughter. And all of this time at home, waiting around and I filled it with what I love doing most,
what I always do, which is of course music.
So, music, I was taking outside as last spring, the weather was getting nicer, and I was trying to stay in contact with family and friends as we
all were last year and we continue to do like this, like how I'm speaking to you, we're doing it virtually.
And then, yes, so, I was trying to send videos of what we were doing here, our life here in the West Coast of Ireland, one of the best (INAUDIBLE) up
here, West Coast of Ireland and sharing our lives with friends and family.
DEXTER: And decided to share it further afield and share it with the world. And yes, I started to perform and filming myself outside and sharing
AMANPOUR: Are you surprised by the reaction?
AMANPOUR: And let's not forget the way you rare, a County Mayo, I think, is even President Biden's ancestral home.
DEXTER: Yes. So, County Mayo, many of you might have heard of it as being the place, as I said, is the furthest corner of Ireland and it's the place
where President Biden, his ancestors left to go to America, and that is very close where I am in County Mayo. It is a beautiful part of the
country. It's a beautiful part of the world and I'm very proud to live here.
AMANPOUR: And we've got a picture of you when you were really young playing the cello. Of course, we are now watching pictures of you in the
full snow playing. So, you really are a man of all seasons. But I started by asking, have you been surprised by the reaction?
DEXTER: Yes. So, I was initially, of course, very surprised. I mean, this huge wall of support from the world, you know, millions of people watching
these performances of me playing my cello out in -- by my cottage in the west of Ireland. I could not have expected the level support.
You know, at that time, last year, as it continues to be now, there's so many important things on serious matters that are -- in the news, in the
world that's -- what's going on. So, didn't expect with all of that that something like music would be able could cut through, but it really has. I
have been surprised, but at the same time, I have always known the power of music. I have always known that it can cut through and it can enter that
space of public discourse in a way to spread beauty into the world.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And you come from a musical family, right? You've got siblings who play string instruments. Were you always the cellist? And your
other siblings play the violin I think, right?
DEXTER: Yes, I was always the cellist, you know, since I was very young. I come from a large family, seven children in the family, and each one of us
was given a musical instrument. I'm number three in the family. And my two older sisters were playing the violin. So, I was next to come to fill out
the string quartet that was coming. It became an ensemble of seven people in the end. But, you know, the idea was to get more depth, more bass to the
family ensemble. So, after my violin of sisters, I was given the cello and I have taken it on ever since, all my life.
AMANPOUR: And your father plays piano. And I think I read that sometimes he sends you some music to play, I guess, alongside or in the background of
your own playing. Is that right?
DEXTER: Indeed, yes. So, my father who is living close by to me here on the West Coast of Ireland, he has always throughout my life been my
accompanist. We've always played together. He plays piano for me to accompany my cello playing.
But, of course, at the moment, we are under a very severe lockdown here in Ireland, the most severe we have had. And though we're close, we cannot
play together in the same room. So, yes, he sends me recordings of his piano accompaniments, and I take them, play with them and what I love to do
most of all is to take them outside into the countryside here, beside where I live and play with my dad outside in the beautiful fresh air remotely.
AMANPOUR: Well, it is an enormously bucolic picture, I have to say, and your dog is there as well. So, look, you have very kindly recorded music
for us that we are going to finish the program with. But I want to know from you what it is, why you chose this piece of music and then you can
introduce it and we will play out.
DEXTER: So, I chose this piece of music especially for you today, because it is a piece of music that is very close to my heart. It is a song called
"On Ragland Road" which is an Irish traditional folk song. It was written, the poem, the words of the song was written by Patrick Kavanagh. Now,
Patrick Kavanagh maybe perhaps you have heard recently because U.S. president, Joe Biden, he is a big, big fan of Patrick Kavanagh and often
known to quote his poetry in his speeches.
So -- but Patrick Kavanagh had written this poem. And then years later, he met in a pub in Dublin, as is often the case. 50 years ago now, he met a
singer from the great Irish folk group, The Dubliners, and they wrote this song, "On Ragland Road," and it tells a story of unrequited love or rather,
you know, reaching out for something that perhaps you know you might never attain but reaching out for it anyway. I think beyond love, it speaks to so
many things in our life, you know, that idea of reaching out to get something, even if you think it might never happen, but making that effort
And it's something that is very personal to me, because on Ragland is the name of a road in Dublin where I grew up and, you know, where a lot of my
family -- or I live in the West Coast of Ireland and as do my parents, but my family is now spread all over the country and I have friends in Dublin
City. I know Ireland is small island where we would often see each other regularly. At the moment, of course, because of lockdown, we can't. So, you
know, this story of "On Ragland Road" is very personal.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's wonderful. We're going to say good night. Thank you for watching and we bid everybody a very happy weekend from London and we
are going to play you out with this wonderful piece of music.
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