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Nelson Mandela Memorial Service
Aired December 10, 2013 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And I want to welcome our viewers now. It is the top of the hour. I'm Anderson Cooper. We are live this morning in FNB Stadium in Johannesburg where the world is gathering to remember Nelson Mandela.
This really is an unprecedented memorial service about to get underway. Bringing the rich and the famous, the powerful and the average citizen all here to remember a man they called Tata, father.
Some 91,000 world leaders including dignitaries, President Obama, the first lady, landed just about three hours ago. The president will be among those who speak here this morning.
It is 11:00 a.m. here in Johannesburg. A rainy day but that is not stopping the crowd. It's 4:00 a.m. in the East and we welcome our viewers in the United States and watching around the world. I'm very happy to be joined by CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour and CNN's Robyn Curnow.
There are very few events that you can say we have never seen anything like this. But this is really one of those and for those who are watching at home, watching around the world, they -- stay tuned, it is -- it is a treat to see. This is history in the making.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really true and in the days since Mandela died, you have such an outpouring of, you know, sadness yes, but really it's been marked by the joyfulness and the celebration of his life because I think it's not too harsh to say that we will probably not see his likes again.
All the descriptions of how he grew up being a consensus builder, a conciliator, how he hated the system when he was in Robben Island, even though he himself, friends say, didn't necessarily he himself face the abuses of Apartheid. But at least he knew all about them. Many of them much toward blacks were violently abused by this racist regime.
And in jail he sits and he thinks and he thinks, and he gets together with ANC, anti-Apartheid leaders, and he comes out and he says, hang on a second. The whites are not going anywhere. This is the Afrikaners' land as well. We're not going anywhere. They can't beat us. We can't beat them. There has to be some sort of consensus and conciliation.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And remember he thought of thinking about this in 1964 when he was sent to Robben Island. I mean, I think the key about Mandela is the sense of planning for the long term. And we have these wonderful stories here today. Some of his old prison wardens, he invited them to his inauguration. And he slowly tries --
COOPER: Just as he invited them to his -- when became president.
CURNOW: Visitors. Exactly.
COOPER: He made them sitting there in the front row.
CURNOW: Exactly. And they were the first people. He literally tried to test his theory. Could he seduce the enemy? And how would he do it? It took him another 30 years before he seduced the Apartheid structure at the top. But he started off with the prison guards and he -- what was interesting is that he always thought, he didn't treat with disdain, he treated them with respect.
And I think that sense of how you treat somebody, you know, comes back in how they treat you. And it was very key about Mandela. He had a deep sense of respect even for the enemy because he knew that was power.
COOPER: He also learned the language of the oppressor --
COOPER: -- in prison, taught himself and encouraged everybody else, all the other ANC leaders who are in the prison with him, to learn Afrikaans as well, saying to them, you will be across the table from them when they -- you have to know how they think.
COOPER: You have to understand them.
AMANPOUR: And know the enemy. Every warrior has to know that, every battlefield commanders, good ones, say you have to know the enemy, and you're right. Mac Maharaj, who was one of his fellow inmates, one of the armed -- one of the members of the armed wing of the ANC, who's now the president's spokesman, told us about that. How, you know, he forced us to learn Afrikaans. And then when he came out he did extraordinary things. He went to visit the widow of the architect of the Apartheid.
CURNOW: Yes. Betsie Verwoerd.
AMANPOUR: Yes. He went to one of these white only ghettos, you might want to call it today but he met her and many members of his ANC were quite horrified. And when he sat down and it was about forgiveness and conciliation --
CURNOW: And he had tea with her.
AMANPOUR: That's right.
CURNOW: There was this bizarre thing of him having tea with -- AMANPOUR: Yes. And some people say, hey, you went too far. You know, why are you being so -- he said, people have criticized me but they see the results. We have peace.
COOPER: I also want to bring in Rick Stengel who spent so much time with Nelson Mandela over the years and work with Mandela.
Rick, that time in prison, many have described it almost as a university for leaders of the ANC. It was a time in which 27 years, where they had time on their side. They could discuss endlessly and they would. They would often -- my understanding is every day they were in line and they would -- they would hold discussions and debate things constantly.
What did Mandela say about his time in Robben Island in those terms?
RICHARD STENGEL: You're right, Anderson. They referred to it as the university. And one of the mistakes, probably, that the white government made was keeping all of those men together because they reinforced each other. But they were -- they were pedagogues, I mean, they were always trying to teach each other and they had these very famous debates. One of which I remember Mandela saying with some sense of humor was whether the tiger was indigenous to Africa or not.
And of course it's not. There is -- there are no tigers in Africa and he said he was on the wrong side of that debate for many years. Of course the debates were mainly political. There was lots of discussion about the nature of the communist party and the ANC. The ANC and the communist party were allies for many years. They debated what would be the nature of the future of South Africa. Would they be able to reconcile with whites and minorities?
And in the early years on Robben Island they were unable to get books, unable to get newspapers, in later they were able to get it. He told a very funny story about wanting to order a copy of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" but the prison wardens rejected that because they thought it was a military manual.
COOPER: And Rick, I mean, you talked to Mandela about this. And it's often cited that he did not give in to bitterness, that he did not give in to hate. You say that that could be overstated, that he did feel anger and bitterness but he just knew that he had to put it aside in order to unite this country.
STENGEL: Yes. I mean I think he would say if he were alive, it would be unrealistic and unreasonable for a person in his position not have some anger and some bitterness about what happened to him. He, more than anybody on the planet, was able to overcome that, was able to triumph over it. He knew that he could never be seen to be bitter, never can't be seen to be angry.
As Christiane mentioned, and Robyn mentioned, he went to see the widow of Henry Verwoerd who was the architect of Apartheid. He made these great symbolic gestures of reaching out to the other side, of inviting Warrant Gregory to his inauguration. He wanted people to see that he was not bitter, which doesn't mean that he wasn't bitter and angry at some level himself.
CURNOW: I think it was said that, you know, he was -- he could forgive but he would never forget. And I think, you know, that there was some truth in that. But I know, Rick, the sense of the -- the prison days of being some sort of university. Very early on, I think, you also got a sense of his pragmatism as a leader. Because there was one wonderful story, I think, he used to tell it in his autobiography.
Black prisoners were treated differently to white prisoners and so called colored prisoners. And they were given short pants, not long trousers. They were still literally treated as boys. And Mandela said when he got into prison, listen, this is unacceptable, we've got to make a point out of it. So he wrote letters and they said, fine. Mandela, yes, you can have a pair of trousers.
And he found them on the bottom of his -- on the floor of his prison cell and so relieved. Then he realized none of the other black prisoners had got trousers. And so he gave them back and he said, "I'm not going to be the only one."
It was that same sense of a man who also understood his role as the leader of this -- of this revolution and those kind of small things mattered.
COOPER: We're joined also by our David McKenzie in our Johannesburg bureau.
David, this is really an event which is being -- and has been over the last several days, really has transfixed the nation here. People -- we have seen people, thousands of people, probably tens of thousands, going to the -- to the various homes of Mandela in Soweto, in a suburb of Johannesburg, just to pay their respects. People in other stadiums in other places, watching these events here today.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Anderson. And it's certainly an event that will draw thousands to -- in this stadium, maybe up to 90,000 but more than 40 million South Africans will be watching this today in homes and spillover stadiums and in communities throughout this land in all kinds of communities.
And yes, throughout these days of mourning it's been more like a celebration outside Mandela's Houghton home where he passed away late Thursday. There's been piles of roses and flowers piled up and many personal messages left there often in the hand of children. Mandela was such an important figure for children and South Africa and throughout the world. These deeply personal messages for a man that many of them never would have seen on television or ever met in person.
And of course, the oldest South Africans, I've met them in different parts of this town and city. They have said to me they remember very specific moments when Mandela was released, when they saw him for the first time in prison. This is a national global event of commemoration but it's very personal specifically deeply personal for many South Africans, including myself of course -- Anderson.
COOPER: And we're watching -- is this family --
CURNOW: This is -- this is Mandela's family. What you see here is a collection of the grandchildren, the children, his present wife, his ex-wife Winnie Mandela, and a number, of course, of dignitaries.
Now just remember, when we talk about Mandela the man, Mandela the leader, the one thing where you could perhaps fault him, perhaps one of his greatest failures, many people have said, was that he wasn't there for his family. And I think that same sacrifice for the greater good. He understood it but when you speak to his family, a lot of them, particularly his daughters, have found it very difficult to come to terms that he abandoned them and he chose -- he chose this.
AMANPOUR: He chose the cause.
CURNOW: Not them.
AMANPOUR: Isn't their amazing story about his daughter Zindzi who came to this stadium, I believe? Because at one point, they were offering to release Mandela and it --
CURNOW: But there were caveats.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. And he said from jail, and apparently it was the first time he'd been quoted for many, many years because he was banned, his name was banned. People couldn't quote him. And his daughter read out a defiant statement in this stadium and it was the first time she felt part of his struggle herself.
CURNOW: She -- I think she was a teenager.
AMANPOUR: That's right. A hero. She said, "My father says, no, I cannot accept the conditions." So even though he was offered to leave prison, he said no. Until he was able to get an equitable deal for the fellow prisoners and the blacks of this country.
COOPER: Let's listen in to some of what the crowds are hearing here.
CURNOW: We're just trying to -- we're just trying to get a sense of who is coming in. And I think when you look at all of these people, the great and the good and the powerful, and the famous. You know, when they met him often at home they were the most important person but I've never seen people star struck like they were when they met Nelson Mandela.
COOPER: The former British prime minister, John Major.
AMANPOUR: That looks to be the former -- yes. The former British prime minister John Major. The current British prime minister David Cameron is here, had a chance to talk to him a little earlier. And he spoke I would say for all the world leaders about what this means to everybody. And it's actually very interesting because the struggle against Apartheid involved in no small part economic pressure with the global sanctions, and Britain, the conservative party and the Margaret Thatcher did not agree with the sanctions and didn't support them, nor at the time the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
COOPER: United States.
AMANPOUR: Yet eventually Congress passed the bills in 1986 and it was incredibly important in isolating South Africa and pressuring them economically and making eventually President F. W. De Klerk realized that actually this was not sustainable any more.
COOPER: Just you know, the order of events, we understand once this -- this has not really officially begun. When it does begin, the national anthem will be played which will obviously be quite a dramatic moment.
CURNOW: And you know what's key about the national anthem is that it's called Nkosi Sikelel, "God Bless Africa," and it was a song also abandoned in the old days. And it's a prayer for Africa. But what Mandela, again, in one of these judicious examples of his leadership was that in that -- in the official anthem, there is still the old Apartheid anthem so there is the African -- Afrikaans and English version of this.
COOPER: Hamid Karzai, the leader of Afghanistan, obviously coming in right now.
CURNOW: So there is the sense that even when South Africans still today sing the national anthem, there's still this cobbling together of old and new. And the fact that he didn't just sweep away the entire old order was so key, particularly when you look now. The Arab spring, even Iraq, when a new government comes in and there is a sense of absolutely everything before had to go.
Mandela was so different. By embracing the old order, he neutralized them.
COOPER: Let's listen in, just to hear what the crowds are hearing.
AMANPOUR: Let's bring in our Jill Dougherty.
COOPER: Let's bring in our Jill Dougherty.
Jim, we have seen a number of world leaders arriving, but still there are so many more to come.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: There are. And --
AMANPOUR: You know when we also talk --
COOPER: Go ahead, Jill.
DOUGHERTY: There are 91 of them. And, you know, as we're looking at this, it's really -- it reminds, I think, us of the power of moral force and people who come into history at a particular point who are the turning point.
Nelson Mandela, you just pointed out, who did not destroy. He -- in almost like a Gorbachev at one point or a Nelson Mandela at another where they were able to turn, but they do not destroy, they do not -- and let's say if Nelson Mandela had really gone in a different direction, it might have led to a horrible, horrible bloody conflict that would have consumed that entire area and that huge country. But he didn't.
And that is the power of one individual in the moral force that I think people even if they are the powerful as you see them walking in here, they are all moved by this one man who, from a prison cell, was able to change things them. And his -- the power of his ideas that really informed people and informed President Barack Obama who read what Mandela wrote and thought about what Mandela wrote, and many, many other people.
COOPER: And Jill --
AMANPOUR: We just saw President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, one of the great liberation presidents of recent time in Africa and we're going to come back with much more after a break.
COOPER: And welcome back to the memorial service for Nelson Mandela here in Soweto, at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. I'm Anderson Cooper joined by Christiane Amanpour and Robyn Curnow.
We've seen Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa, just took to the field to a large -- to a large ovation. People are eager, I think, for this to start.
Is that Robert Mugabe? No.
CURNOW: We also --
AMANPOUR: No, It's not. No. No.
COOPER: That's right. My monitor is --
AMANPOUR: He's coming but there's lots and lots of presidents from all over this continent coming. And you know --
COOPER: It's going to be a real challenge in terms of seating because you have Raul Castro, the leader of Cuba, President Barack Obama who, obviously, does not want to be seated near Castro.
AMANPOUR: And probably won't be. COOPER: And probably won't be as well as Robert Mugabe and David Cameron in Great Britain, well, he does not want to be seen next to Robert Mugabe.
AMANPOUR: It's going to be difficult.
COOPER: So it's going to be quite a challenge.
CURNOW: I spoke to essentially foreign affairs here, and I said, what are you going to do about the festivities? Because to be honest with you, I think they're just above us, and it's not a large area if you think about 90 heads of state in one area.
CURNOW: And there's only one entry and exit point so there is a possibility you are going to see some rather uncomfortable --
CURNOW: -- introductions or at least eye contacts in the next few hours.
AMANPOUR: I have to say I can never get over the fact that I've interviewed some of these people who one might call dictators, who even they say they admire, more than anybody else on earth, Nelson Mandela. So, you know, even people who don't exactly follow his lead profess to admire him. I don't know if that's herd mentality or just denial.
COOPER: We're also joined by Rick Stengel, who co-authored Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom," which is a remarkable account of Mandela's long life and long career.
Rick, when you began to work with Mandela, what was he like one-on-one when you spent time with him? You spent many, many hours talking with him.
STENGEL: Boy, Anderson, he had not come out of prison that much long before and he was a mixture of being shrewd about what was going on and being naive. I mean, the other day you even told the story of how he thought the sound mikes might have been weapons when he first came out.
And the other thing that was so lovely about those days is that he wasn't surrounded by an entourage. It was very -- it was a very small number of people who kind of protected him. And he was working out of shell house in Johannesburg which was the ANC headquarters. It was a low-rise building, not protected at all.
And so I had this kind of amazing intimate access with him. And he was at that time both trying to learn what had he to do to become leader. We were also working on the book. He had -- and trying to prevent his country from ending up in civil war. So it really was an extraordinary time and yet he always kept his equanimity, his calm. He was measured which is one of his great words of praise that he could say about anybody.
COOPER: And that's -- that sense of patience, was that something that he developed while in prison, those 27 years in prison?
STENGEL: Yes. He would be the first to say that prison changed him, that the man who went into prison was hot-headed, was impetuous in some ways. He talked about how he used to throw people off the podium sometimes when he was in the African Youth League. And prison makes you have to control everything about your thoughts, everything about your behavior.
You've been in his cell in Robben Island. You have to control your movements because you can barely move around. So prison I think was the crucible that taught him patience, that taught him a kind of pre- natural calm. When we used to do our interviews, I put -- I would put a little mike on his jacket and I remember it was -- it was like putting a mike on a statue. He was so absolutely still.
I've never known a human being to be so still as he was. And I think that just must come from being in prison where you had to control your movements at all times.
COOPER: And a number of people who spent time in prison with Nelson Mandela are here today.
Our Errol Barnett -- Error Barnett is -- has one person who was with Mandela in Prison -- Errol.
ERROL BARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Anderson. I'm just outside the late president's home where we're seeing that same joyous, celebratory atmosphere even though the rain truly is pouring down here.
I'm joined now by (INAUDIBLE) who spent five years on Robben Island, alongside Nelson Mandela and many other ANC leaders.
A pleasure to meet you. First, what do you make of this spectacle that we're witnessing now? It's pouring down rain in the city yet people are still coming out to honor this one great man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's unusual at this time of the year for it to pour like this. And in timber culture this is just what is expected if a great man dies.
BARNETT: Explain that a bit more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rain is associated with wellness, with freedom, growing, with all of those things that people want. So when a chief or important person dies in the community or something happens in his family, it's supposed to rain and it's supposed to be wonderful life.
BARNETT: So South Africans can take some comfort in the weather that we have right now.
Tell me during your time on Robben -- in Robben Island you were sent there well after Nelson Mandela and was released well before. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
BARNETT: What can you reveal to us about the inner workings of the ANC and how Nelson Mandela had still on his mind the idea of freedom and equality?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ANC functioned as if it was not banned in prison. I got to prison and joined the ANC as a fully open front man organization. We only had to keep it away from wardens but they knew of the fact that we were meeting as the ANC. They could pick up our discussions via the two-way communication system in prison.
We know that because at times mistakes were made and some of the things that we had said in our meetings were played back to us. The only thing we were extremely careful about was that no one should be charged for taking part in activities of a banned organization.
BARNETT: It's fascinating to know that the ANC, the struggle continued behind bars even though Nelson Mandela, you and others were in prison and that fight, obviously, was successful.
Thank you for your time.
Mr. (INAUDIBLE) will stay with me here outside Nelson Mandela's home.
And Anderson, I know we just saw there, you know, Ronald Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, is a confirmed guest of Tuesday's memorial. I was in Zimbabwe on assignment to CNN when the news broke of Mandela's death. And as I broke the news, the people in the capital Harare they were physically saddened. They do feel for the man who even though was leading a separate company elevated the flight of black Africans in the face of colonialism.
And I was in fact on Nelson Mandela Avenue in Harare, a name -- a street named after the anti-Apartheid icon, and he opened parliament there in 1998. So Nelson Mandela, you know, the fascinating story of struggling behind bars and even being a reluctant president serving only one term is revered by those in Zimbabwe who had the same president, Mr. Mugabe, for 33 years -- Anderson.
COOPER: Errol, thanks very much.
Crowd reacting to Ban Ki-Moon. Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Ban Ki-Moon.
COOPER: Ban Ki-Moon waving to the crowd. He's getting a nice response. He is one of the people who's going to be speaking here as well.
AMANPOUR: That's right. He's there to great acclaim and applause by the crowd.
COOPER: Secretary-general of the United Nations.
AMANPOUR: And we also just saw before that F.W. De Klerk sitting with another group of so-called elders, a group around Mandela including Lakhdar Brahimi, who's the current special envoy of the United Nations to Syria. We saw Mary Robinson, the former Irish president who's the current special envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo, trying to fix the situation there. And also we saw a bishop -- archbishop, the former Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
COOPER: And there really has never been such a collection of leaders in one place.
CURNOW: Absolutely. We were -- I think all three of us were at the funeral of Pope John Paul II and that in itself was extraordinary, seeing all those Polish people come and line up to pay their respects to him, but this takes on a whole another level because what you have here is a man who doesn't just have a religious constituency to which he appealed. He seems to have appealed across countries, across ages and across the world. So this is what we're seeing here is an absolute resonance of Nelson Mandela's legacy.
COOPER: We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues in a moment.
CURNOW: What we've been seeing here is a lineup of some of the world's most powerful men, haven't we?
COOPER: We have. And Cyril Ramaphosa is speaking and introducing some of the world leaders.
AMANPOUR: That's exactly right. He's the deputy leader of the ANC. And let's be frank, he played a crucial role in the anti-Apartheid struggle. He was head of the union. And it was a crucial role. And it's no secret that Mandela would have liked him to be his successor.
Still now Ramaphosa is --
CURNOW: That's Winnie Mandela.
AMANPOUR: This is Winnie Mandela who's about to come in now.
COOPER: That's Winnie Mandela --
AMANPOUR: A huge cheer going up here.
COOPER: It cannot be overstated the impact and importance of Winnie Mandela.
AMANPOUR: Listen to this crowd.
COOPER: And as -- and now the crowd is seeing is Winnie Mandela. Listen in to the response she's getting.
CURNOW: Some of them -- some of them are chanting "Winnie, Winnie, Winnie."
COOPER: It can't be overstated, though. I mean, the role that Winnie Mandela played in the Apartheid struggle. Many people say there would not have been a Nelson Mandela without Winnie Mandela.
CURNOW: Absolutely. Because he was essentially silent for those 27 years. And she took on the mantle and, you know, she was also jailed but she kept on going and the Apartheid regime knew they could get to her.
CURNOW: Graca Machel is also coming in now by the looks of it. His wife. But Winnie Mandela was brutalized by the Apartheid state even more so because they knew that would really hurt Mandela.
And now we have here Mandela's widow, Graca Machel. She's the only woman to be married to two heads of state. She was also married to Samora Machel, the Mozambican president, who was killed in a plane crash.
Just remember this has been extraordinarily hard for all of these women and she does look very pained. I mean, he has been very, very sick over the last six months. Particularly we were told that he -- she was at his bedside particularly at hospital in Pretoria every night. Sometimes sleeping in a hospital bed next to her.
And it's a very powerful moment, no doubt, also for these families because he comes from a divided family. You saw Mrs. Machel sitting there next to his daughter, Maki. And this family, by their admission --
CURNOW: Say they struggled with each other but I think that is what we're seeing now is a sense of unity.
COOPER: Let's listen in.
CURNOW: There is Winnie Mandela, planked by her daughters, walking through the rain.
COOPER: We should point out that this is a pool camera. We don't have control -- we're not determining what is being -- the videotape we're about to see Robert Mugabe.
CURNOW: No, that isn't Robert.
AMANPOUR: It's Obiang.
CURNOW: That's Obiang of Equatorial New Guinea.
COOPER: Of Equatorial New Guinea.
AMANPOUR: He's another one of those that I know --
COOPER: Yes. He's --
AMANPOUR: Who loves Mandela.
COOPER: Yes. Well -- yes.
AMANPOUR: Been in power a long, long time.
AMANPOUR: And this of course F.W. De Klerk.
COOPER: About to see F.W. De Klerk as well.
AMANPOUR: Who I spoke to as Mandela died. I know I've spoke to several times about their joint role in the -- in ending apartheid.
Here's what is so important about De Klerk. Even though it was Mandela -- and there again soon we're going to see Winnie -- who reached out first to the white government. And this crowd, huge, huge cheers. She was called the mother of the nation. All those years he was in prison she was out here keeping his --
COOPER: And she was banished as well for years.
AMANPOUR: And jailed, of course.
COOPER: In fact --
AMANPOUR: Solitary confinement.
COOPER: There are those who say her banishment was in some ways worse than Mandela. That Mandela at least -- on Robben Island there was a structure, there was a schedule. There was an order.
CURNOW: And there was a community and there were people around.
COOPER: And whereas Winnie Mandela was often all -- was alone with her children and had no control over what would happen day-to-day.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And it has to be said that even though she was there -- look at her hugging Graca there.
COOPER: Winnie Mandela embracing the current wife of Nelson Mandela.
AMANPOUR: Even though she was there at the end, and there's a big family reunion now, it was a matter of great pain to Nelson Mandela when he came out of prison because she had her attention elsewhere. She also was heavily criticized about the so-called Mandela United Football Club which was her vigilante protection group and there was a trial because one of the boys had been kidnapped and killed. And then Mandela and her were divorced.
CURNOW: And she was convicted for fraud and corruption.
AMANPOUR: Yes, she was.
CURNOW: And I think when you read the letters, Winnie Mandela and Nelson Mandela wrote to each other in prison, there is a lot of passion and a lot of longing. And their extraordinary --
COOPER: There is no (INAUDIBLE). They are extraordinary.
CURNOW: They are extraordinarily personal letters. Most -- all of them of course read by the Apartheid authorities but that didn't stop them having this love affair over 27 years from afar. And it was said that when he came out and their marriage didn't work, he was -- he said that he was the loneliest he's ever been in his life in those last years of their marriage.
That said, they always remained close and she has been there, I understand, at the house every day this week. And has been a part of his life since their divorce.
AMANPOUR: The press conference where he announced the divorce was so tragic because here was this unbelievable dignified man, this icon, who clearly loved his wife, and he said so, I love her. She was the mother of my children. And he said the pain is almost unbearable. And he then asked people to give him space. He never wanted to talk about it.
CURNOW: And then you have these wonderful stories years later of him meeting and courting Mrs. Machel, and this sort of quiet youthful teenage kind of courtship in his late 70s. He got married to her at the age of 80 on his 80th birthday, and they have been together for the past 15 years.
AMANPOUR: She must be an extraordinary woman. She must be such an amazing woman, so much empathy. She's married to two of the great African liberation heroes. Her first, Samora Machel, was the first black president of Mozambique after a massive freedom struggle, and of course the same with Nelson Mandela.
COOPER: The stadium not full at this point, it should be said. The upper bleachers are filling up, are pretty much fill. Sort of down to the lower rungs are not. I'm not sure if there are crowds still outside that they're slowly letting in or not. No doubt --
AMANPOUR: This is Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria.
COOPER: He's got to have the greatest name of any leader, Goodluck Jonathan.
But it's really -- so many African leaders here. And I think that early on that's one of the things about Nelson Mandela, he's identifying himself as an African, not just -- not allowing himself to be divided by the white regime, not -- which is a technique that white regime had used for generations. Run and took divide tribal groups from each other.
CURNOW: And I think also what is key about the sense Mandela had of himself and his confidence as a black man -- obviously the American civil rights movement, very focused on a sense of psychology of being a black man. So too (INAUDIBLE) and black consciousness movement. And once somebody said to Nelson Mandela, you have given back dignity to the black man. And he said, no, no, no. I've given dignity to the white man. There is no dignity in oppression.
And I think that is the kind of key thinking you saw with him. He always felt intrinsic self-confident in himself and people in times of, you know, the deep colonial past really sought strength from that as well.
COOPER: As I was saying before, this is a pool camera. So again it's being controlled elsewhere so we're not controlling the shots.
COOPER: If you're wondering why we're showing particular shots, we are not in control of this.
AMANPOUR: It's so interesting. You've got Cyril Ramaphosa there sitting between the two widows, Graca Machel and Winnie Mandela, and obviously shared children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. Lots of emotions.
CURNOW: You saw Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is President Zuma's ex- wife. She was also the health minister in Mandela's first cabinet. She now heads up the African Union. So, you know, what you see is also around Mandela, a lot of extraordinarily strong women. He really -- he -- in his cabinet, in government, he really also encouraged, sometimes it's quite an un-African thing to give power to women as well. He wasn't patriarchal in that sense either.
AMANPOUR: The president of Ghana. I interviewed him last night. He actually was in New York giving a speech about Africa, and he jumped on his plane and came here.
Mandela once paid tribute to Ghana which had had successful democratic elections in a row. And of course Ghana is a site of pilgrimage for American presidents, too, including President Obama, one of the port towns there as well. Many of the slaves boarded those terrible ships, shackled and sent --
AMANPOUR: To America.
COOPER: When President Obama visited there several years ago --
COOPER: -- at the exit point where slaves were brought to the -- well, to the colonies at that point.
Again, we're joined -- Rick Stengel is watching this along with us.
AMANPOUR: And the crowds are still coming, we should say.
CURNOW: They are.
AMANPOUR: Streaming in right now.
CURNOW: There is a very measured approach to this.
AMANPOUR: Look at that.
CURNOW: You can see the authorities haven't let people literally storm the gates or the turnstiles here. There is a -- there is a measured gentle approach to this and I think in a way that also parallels Nelson Mandela, you know, that this is not chaotic. There is a sense of order and a sense of peacefulness in a way. Despite so many large people here.
COOPER: Rick Stengel, the family of Mandela which we will -- a number of the speakers will be grandchildren of Mandela, other relatives of Nelson Mandela. It's a large family and one that he really didn't have much contact with obviously. I mean, in many ways, he willingly sacrificed his family life in order to lead the struggle.
STENGEL: Yes. I think, Anderson, it was his greatest regret by far. And I think someone alluded earlier to that really dreadful story that he told me for "Long Walk to Freedom" about how when he was underground, when he had to leave his home after marrying Winnie, he would go back and visit his older children by his first wife Evelyn, and he was visiting his oldest son who was probably then 10 or 12 years old.
And as he was leaving, his son said to him, "Daddy, why do you have to go?" And he said, "Because there are millions of other children who need me as well." And I've always thought that was just a heartbreaking thing to have to say to your own child. And yet that was what he had to do.
And as you see in the crowd he's had a very complicated family life even in exile. Children by his first wife, children by his second wife. And it's lovely to see how everybody has gathered around on this occasion.
COOPER: And you can the rain is really still pouring down here.
AMANPOUR: The rain is pouring down.
COOPER: Which is unfortunate, making it more -- all the more difficult for people to come in. Let's just listen in a little bit to hear what the crowds are hearing.
AMANPOUR: The president of Brazil is coming in now. Dilma Rousseff. She arrived in the early hours of this morning. And all these world leaders occupying all of the hotels in Johannesburg. She happened to come to the one I'm at. And so a whole line of television cameras at 2:00 in the morning. And it was for President Rousseff.
COOPER: It will be interesting to see if she encountered President Obama because of obviously --
AMANPOUR: The NSA scandal. Yes.
COOPER: That she canceled the state visit to the United States.
AMANPOUR: She also has a very interesting history. She was in prison and indeed tortured. She was part of the liberation against the dictatorships in Brazil and she is an amazing woman.
CURNOW: A lot of Mandela's also great historical gifts was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which the concept was given to them from the Chilean experience. And many people say that the fact that Mandela and along with Tutu and (INAUDIBLE), and the original government, the fact that they didn't give these sort of Nuremberg trials but at the same time is there wasn't this sort of orgy of retribution.
But there were still this need for people to stand up and be held accountable. And in telling those stories, there was a lot of catharsis in those -- in this nation. So, you know, when we -- when we look at all of these people here, some of the people would have appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
AMANPOUR: That's not (INAUDIBLE).
CURNOW: There is Winnie.
AMANPOUR: In the blue tie. Who's in the blue tie?
We're still looking at these really poignant pictures of the two women who probably love Mandela the best in the world, Winnie Mandela and Graca Mandela -- Graca Machel Mandela.
COOPER: It is remarkable that he found love so later in life in Graca Machel. I mean, it really is -- I mean, and even early on in life, he was very much a lady's man.
AMANPOUR: He was.
AMANPOUR: In the Winnie Mandela days --
CURNOW: Well, I don't even know -- I mean --
COOPER: Even something --
CURNOW: Yes. And I mean, I've often said it, he was a very flirty man and I think, you know, he often was quite tactile even with journalists or with anyone really. And when you think about it, 27 years in jail. He would be -- he gravitates towards women and children.
CURNOW: Because that's what he didn't see. I mean --
AMANPOUR: Graca has said that, you know, they met each other at the time when they were both lonely. She was a widow and he had been divorced. He was this president without his, you know, immediate family, all that. And that was -- you know, the spark.
CURNOW: And you know what was also delightful? I've spoken to some of his bodyguards during this time. And he kind of courted her, wooed her in a very old fashioned gentleman way, sort of from another era. And he insisted often on going to buy her chocolates himself at Sandton City, the big mall here.
And from a security point of view it was a nightmare because he would just sort of go and walk off and try and buy her chocolates. So he always felt the need even in those later years to be an old fashioned romantic.
COOPER: And more of -- we're seeing more of the family members and the grandchildren of Mandela.
Rick Stengel, talk -- talk a little bit about Nelson Mandela. I mean, he really was a lady's man early on.
STENGEL: Well, he -- I don't think he would like to hear that, Anderson. But he -- in the new movie that's coming out there is an interesting depiction of it. But I want to go back to talk about those two women that we've been talking about, Winnie and Graca. One of the things, and this echoes what Christiane was saying, Mandela always said to me that he believed Winnie had a harder time than he did.
It was in some ways easier being in prison. He always knew where his next meal was coming from. She had to look after two children. She was exiled to Brandfort, this Afrikaans area which he didn't --
CURNOW: This is the Danish prime minister.
STENGEL: Where she didn't --
CURNOW: Danish prime minister.
STENGEL: Where she didn't speak the language --
CURNOW: Followed by the crowned prince.
STENGEL: She spent time in solitary confinement. So he really thought that she was terribly mistreated by the government and had worse treatment than he did.
Graca Machel coming into his life was just like a ray of sunshine. He was indeed lonely after he separated from Winnie. I was -- the other day looking at my notes that I was making during the time I was working with him and I remember a number of times he was on the phone with her and she was taking a trip and he would say, make sure you bring a sweater, make sure you bring and umbrella and overcoat.
He was very paternal with her and he was very proud to have her being his consort. And he wanted to marry her from the very beginning and she resisted for a bit and then they decided to do it on his momentous 80th birthday.
COOPER: And, Rick, Winnie Mandela remains very popular among people here in South Africans. Among black South Africans.
STENGEL: Yes. She was indeed, as you have mentioned, she was known as the mother of the nation. She was the face of Nelson Mandela during all those years in prison. She was, by many accounts, more militaristic than he and was disappointed that he was preaching reconciliation when he came out. She was incredibly brave.
She was incredibly persecuted and had a very, very difficult time. And, you know, unlike those men who went on Robben Island who had each other for support, she didn't have much support. And I think as awful as that separation was for him and that press conference where it was the only time in public I've ever seen him feel sorry for himself or express any sympathy for his plight, I think even when we were working on the book, he would still get angry at what was done to her.
COOPER: We are going take a short break. The world leaders continue to arrive. Clearly this is not going to be starting on time. Our coverage, though, continues. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back to the Nelson Mandela memorial. The current president of South Africa, President Zuma, is now entering and listen to the crowd.
AMANPOUR: President Jacob Zuma, the president of this country, who will be giving the keynote address at this memorial, and of course who, in a very carefully choreographed manner, was the one who officially announced the death of Nelson Mandela just before midnight that Thursday South African time. I believe it's like about 11:39 p.m. when he came on television.
And just before that, South Africa's state broadcaster had had a little crawl. You know those famous crawls, the words under the screen, saying the president will come on and address the country on a matter of great national importance and that's, I guess, when everybody knew that things were not good.
There had been a lot of rumors swirling, a lot of scares around the Mandela household.
You were there all day, Robyn, on Thursday.
And finally the official announcement that he had died and the announcement of all these events which are unfolding right now.
CURNOW: And you know, this country has known at least for much of this year that he was gravely ill. Remember at the end, he was on a ventilator, dialysis were failed, kidneys. He was very, very, very ill. And that still that announcement, that very official --
CURNOW: The president looking into the camera. I think people were still shocked and still just couldn't think it.
AMANPOUR: And the Zuma you hear -- you see now and is shaking hands with dignitaries, we'll see the pictures again, is very different from that night. I was stunned by how devastated he looked.
AMANPOUR: Really devastated.
CURNOW: He looked slightly disheveled.
AMANPOUR: I --
AMANPOUR: You could see how sad he was. And let's face it. You know, he also has share of criticism. Let's not beat around the bush. Mandela was an iconic leader. Now it's true Mandela wasn't the administrator, hr was the galvanizer, he was the statesman, he's a symbol of reconciliation.
CURNOW: That's right.
AMANPOUR: He left a lot of the day-to-day running to his eventual successor, Thabo Mbeki. But these huge, huge crowds, all these people coming in now --
COOPER: And these are people still trying to stream into the stadium. You really got a sense --
AMANPOUR: And they will. This is going to go on all day.
COOPER: You really got a sense of the crowd.
CURNOW: I've actually been told that this could go on all night. That it could go on until dawn, a soft of night vigil, perhaps an instinctive prayer service might actually still continue in an ad hoc kind of way once the official proceedings have ended.
AMANPOUR: Have ended.
CURNOW: And we see now Robert Mugabe coming in to the stadium. Of course, Robert Mugabe and Nelson Mandela had a rather difficult relationship. While Mandela was in prison, Robert was actually considered the liberation hero of Africa. When Mandela came out there was a sense that Mugabe felt a little bit like he'd been sidelined, that he had been pushed aside for this other man.
And also Mandela was very, very, very critical of Mugabe. On his 90th birthday I heard him in London and he was still begging barbed comment toward Mugabe, essentially said that there was a failed leadership, a failure of leadership.
CURNOW: Now this was a man, 90, still very frail but he still felt the need to say, hey, I'm going to call you up on this one.
AMANPOUR: And of course South Africa led the effort in Africa to try to get Robert Mugabe to do the right political thing, have inclusive elections, allow the opposition, and it just hasn't really worked as they hoped so there has always been this tension recently between them.
CURNOW: And that tension between Robert Mugabe and Mandela also spilled over to Nelson Mandela's relationship with his successor Thabo Mbeki. He also took Thabo Mbeki to task because he considered the South African's political response to the Zimbabwean crisis. That's not good enough, this constructive silence, quiet diplomacy, Mandela felt was actually not loud enough, and that there was some sort of -- you know, sense of complicitness in it. And Mbeki and Mandela had a rather fractured relationship, particularly during Mbeki's presidency.
COOPER: Wasn't it -- correct me if I'm wrong, wasn't Cyril Ramaphosa really Mandela's preferred successor?
COOPER: And the ANC in fact overruled him as they did many times. And picked Thabo Mbeki.
CURNOW: At this ANC -- this very ANC way of leaving decisions to be done by the collectors.
CURNOW: And Nelson Mandela often had to say, listen, I will have to leave it to the collective.
AMANPOUR: But how interesting is this? Because, who knows -- I mean, you're watching (INAUDIBLE). Who knows, Cyril Ramaphosa is being talked about as president for the future. Right now he's deputy of the ANC. But he told me the other day --
COOPER: And extremely wealthy businessman.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's true, too.
AMANPOUR: He was telling me that, you know, when Mandela first unilaterally reached out to the white government and was still behind bars. Many of the exiled ANC leadership did not approve whatsoever.
AMANPOUR: And they were worried that Mandela might, you know, be so eager for a deal that he'd sell out. But everybody said and Cyril Ramaphosa, there's no way. We trust him. And they finally trusted him to do this.
COOPER: And yet when -- I talked to David Turnley, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who was there Mandela was released and ended up, because he is a very good photographer -- are they -- about to sing the anthem? Let's listen in.
AMANPOUR: People are standing.
CURNOW: This is the national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel, "God Bless Africa."
COOPER: Let's listen to the national anthem.
COOPER: Robyn, explain the national anthem. Because it's actually in three different languages.
CURNOW: I think of all the -- I think it's Zulu, Sotho, English and Afrikaans. And it is essentially a call to prayer for Africa but it is a mixture of the old and new.
COOPER: Cyril Ramaphosa speaking.
CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, DEPUTY PRESIDENT, ANC: Thank you very much. President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, and former president -- former president Thabo Mbeki.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Former president, F. W. De Klerk --