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The Amanpour Hour

Billionaire Eco Warrior Blocked From Climate Summit Port; To The Moon With Tom Hanks; Does The West Share Any Blame For The Carnage in Gaza; No Cell Will Silence Her. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 09, 2023 - 11:00   ET



CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Kara, what sur best shot from the wonderful world of technology.

KARA SWISHER, PODCAST HOST: Technology. All I want to say is go Blue. My son is at Michigan.

WALLACE: Yes, you said that before.

SWISHER: I know. And yes. Go Blue.

I want to focus in again on A.I. and stay on the A.I. train. The introduction of Gemini, which is Google's effort in this, has finally caught up. It's a really impressive video if you haven't seen it.


WALLACE: Well, because you've talked about it.

SWISHER: Yes, I did.

WALLACE: I did look at it. This is the coolest thing I've ever seen. The guy draws things and Gemini, the Google A.I. it recognizes them, and has a conversation back and forth.

SWISHER: Yes. Exactly. And so that is really important because Google is the most important company in this space and OpenAI, ChatGPT 5 and Elon Musk raising a billion dollars.

WALLACE: Thank you all for being here. Thank you all for being here. And we will see you right back here next week.

CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. And welcome to THE AMANPOUR HOUR.

In the next 60 minutes we will take you around the world to ask the tough questions, tackle the big problems and let history be our guide. Here is where we're headed this week.


AMANPOUR: No more excuses. The Australian billionaire turned eco warrior, who says it is do or

die if we are going to save the planet, puts his money where his mouth is.

ANDREW FORREST, FORTESCUE: The science is not in any debate by anyone with half a brain, so we must change.

AMANPOUR: Then to the violent epicenter of the Middle East, Professor Fawaz Gerges on how America took its eye off the ball at just the wrong time.


AMANPOUR: Also ahead, no cell can silence her, an exclusive interview with the family of the jailed Iranian Nobel winner, Narges Mohammadi.

Then from the archive, grappling with Nelson Mandela's legacy a decade after his death.

And finally, to the moon for a story of hope and humanity, with Tom Hanks.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: All we really need is enough of us to work together and we can truly change the world.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Metric ton loads of experts, government leaders, activists, and interested civilians, have descended on Dubai this week as the latest climate summit struggles to make the world's biggest polluters rein themselves in and thus hopefully ensure the continuation of our species.

Alarm bells keep ringing. The science keeps telling us what is happening as does the weather itself. And yet tipping points only get closer or are surpassed all together. And it is no surprise that in this survival drama, the villains are fossil fuel companies which sent a record number of lobbyists to the COP28 climate summit which itself is being hosted by the chair of the United Arab Emirates' national oil company.

But maybe it does take someone on the inside to cut through all the smog. Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest is claiming that role for himself these days, promising his own company Fortescue will be green by 2030 and daring other captains of industry to step up and do the same.

Forrest began by arriving at COP28, not by plane, but in a ship powered by clean ammonia. And that is where I found him this week, on the Dubai docks, trying to convert the holdouts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) AMANPOUR: Andrew Forrest, welcome to the program.

We are seeing you there in Dubai at COP, standing in the port in front of your green ship. Tell me though how you managed to get it there, because it's not permitted to get an ammonia green ship into that port.

FORREST: You're so right. This is the world's first green ammonia ship. As you know, ammonia carries hydrogen, burns really slowly. So it's great to fully replace all diesel, fully replace all shipping fuel. So this is -- it is quite remarkable that you can sail and pollute -- polluting ship no problem at any port in the world but the world's first green hydrogen zero-pollution ship actually had to be stopped.

So this is a message to all ports of the world, get with the message. The world shipping industry is creating history now through this ship. We need to sell, but we have a preference to big smelly old fossil- fuel ships.

AMANPOUR: And How did you get it into the port then? What is it powered on right now?

FORREST: Right now, it's powered on type of vegetable oil. But Christiane, that is no solution. Some people say oh, look, it will do for now, but it won't. Only green ammonia can be produced at huge scale, big enough for the shipping industry, for the trucking industry, the transport industry.

We have to go straight to green ammonia and stop these (INAUDIBLE) little steps where we're taking fuel away from the food industry.


AMANPOUR: Do you -- you know, we've heard the Global Maritime Forum say that ammonia is highly toxic, flammable, corrosive, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Are you absolutely sure that you can bank your massive shipping needs on ammonia?

FORREST: Look, I absolutely am. I mean that's just an excuse to doing nothing. I mean the whole world is full of excuses. Why shouldn't we just sit around, fat, dumb and lazy and not change where the world must go.

The science is not in any debate by anyone with half a brain, so we must change. So I would just say to anyone who says look, ammonia, has got all these problems. Well, hang on, so did gas, so did diesel. So did every other fuel had these problems but we got through them and we are going to get -- and they're destroying the world. So we're going to get through our pollution-free fuel. And of course if they don't, we're going to go above their heads and make sure it happens.

AMANPOUR: Look, you know that you come under quite a lot of criticism. You're a major billionaire, head of a major mining company, and some people say, you know, a lot of this is stunt, you know, operations.

Tell me what is your main goal as a climate pioneer, which I know is how you describe yourself, and particularly coming from Australia, which is no stranger to the incredible, you know, buffeting of the climate change crisis?

FORREST: Exactly, Christiane. So I answer all my critics. Do you want to go cheer someone who's not going to make any difference to global warming, go on waste your time. But if you want to help the world, stop it from cooking, you need the big heavy industrials. You need those companies which are burning like me, a billionaire (INAUDIBLE), and you need them to stop burning fossil fuels and that's what for Fortescue is doing.

That's what this ship is doing. Very simply, we're taking all the fossil fuel out of our operations and replacing it with green energy and green fuel and we are proving it can be done. So we're tearing away the excuse for inaction, excuse for business as usual, and saying now we can change and therefore, we must change.

AMANPOUR: What do you make of the actual host of this COP, who said, and I will just read it basically, Al Jaber said that "there is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says the phase-out of fossil fuel is what's going to achieve this very important 1.5- degree Celsius level".

He says that his comments were misinterpreted. But we know that there is a massive and unprecedented number of fossil fuel industry lobbyists at COP in Dubai. What do you make of the actual environment?

FORREST: Well look, all I can say is that the huge advertisements we ran in all the major newspapers yesterday, basically saying, hey, oil and gas, this is your science you obviously didn't know about. So the time for excuses, Christiane is all over. We have to act immediately. Lethal humidity is upon us right now. We must act right now.

And anyone who doesn't is clearly saying, well, I can't do it, well actually, your country can do it. Actually, your company can do it. Maybe you're right. Maybe you can't do it, and therefore, it is your chance to enter stage left and bring on someone who can.

AMANPOUR: You have a challenge, obviously, because you have a mining company, which takes a lot of energy, in order to extract that stuff. So you know, how are you going to deal with that?

FORREST: Christiane, we're building a gigawatt of solar, a gigawatt of wind, 750 kilometers of transmission lines. We're building green hydrogen facilities. We're starting to make green ions (ph). Everything is going to be completed in the next four or five years.

We're going to switch off one billion liters of diesel-based equivalent in the next five to six years to go fully beyond fossil fuel.

And you're right. We are a very difficult so-called extremely-hard-to- abate (ph) industry. But Christiane if we can do it, so can Japan, so can Germany, so can North America, so can every country and company in the world, because we have the technology.

The capital is there begging for people to go to the transition, to lend and fund. The character is the resource we're missing. Character to get up and make the change. And that's really why I want to say to everyone, just ask that question, when are you going to stop burning fossil fuel and the answer is well, we know you can, as a company, as a country, maybe you can't as a leader, and now, it is your turn to hand over that to somebody who has the character.

AMANPOUR: Andrew Forrest, in front of that ship in that port, night time Dubai, thank you so much for joining us.

FORREST: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: Now, few people appreciate how precious our planet is. Like the astronauts who gaze back at earth from space. After the break, Tom Hanks takes us to the moon in a stunning new celebration of science and the human spirit.


HANKS: Right now, it seems as though not enough of us can work together. Let's find an example of when that happens, and I'm sorry, but going back to the moon is that very example, writ large.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Our "Letter from London" this week is called "The Moonwalkers" and it comes from the actor Tom Hanks. The Hollywood legend and self-declared space nut has written and narrated this spectacular immersive documentary, displayed floor to ceiling and in the round, here in London's Lightroom.


HANKS: In the 50,000 years of human history, just 12 of us have traveled from our earth to walk on another celestial body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 40 seconds away from the Apollo 11 liftoff. Five, four, three, two, one. Liftoff. We have liftoff. Liftoff on Apollo 11.


HANKS: Now join me on a journey back to the moon.


AMANPOUR: And the experience is about the grit and determination that put the first man on the moon in 1969. Also featuring interviews with the next generation of NASA astronauts, hoping to make their own giant leap.

I sat down with Tom Hanks, along with his co-writer Christopher Riley, on their own lunar surface, just as the film experienced premiered here in London this week, rekindling the age of adventurism.


AMANPOUR: Tom Hanks, Chris Riley, welcome to the program.

HANKS: Good to see you.

AMANPOUR: This is a quintessentially American story, so why is it debuting in London?

HANKS: This very facility that we are sitting in now in King's Cross is the most -- it is the most unique, immersive venue I've ever come across in my life where the first time we came here, we see an exhibit of David Hawkins paintings.

Now, I thought I was going to be seeing an exhibit of David Hawkins paintings. I didn't realize I was going to be walking into one of his paintings, as David himself was painting it. All around you.

Seeing that that was possible, I immediately went to the powers that be, Richard Slaney, and everybody else you could put people in the (INAUDIBLE) valley where we are sitting right now, on Apollo 17 and it would be as though we were sitting right on the moon. Have you guys thought about that?

And they said no, but would you like to think about it with us. And so here we are.

AMANPOUR: And the two of you wrote this together. What did it take to write this? What were you trying to achieve? What was it about the moon, the story that's been told so many times?

HANKS: That's a good question, why.

CHRISTOPHER RILEY, CO-WRITER, "MOONWALKERS": Well, yes. I mean it is not entirely about the moon. The story is actually a story of hope, of course, it is about hope, of humanity, of what we can do when we work together.

Apollo really epitomizes that. It was the work of half a million people for a decade, all pulling coming together for one particular quest. And it was driven by curiosity in part. And when we're curious, we discover unexpected things. And that's essentially the message we wanted to try to convey in part, isn't it?

AMANPOUR: You saw, when you were a kid, you watched on television, and I watched on television, Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. And I guess that it is inspired you ever since, because you also played, you know, Jim Lovell in "Apollo 13".

HANKS: Yes, yes.

Houston, we have a problem.

AMANPOUR: Has that been something that has stayed with you ever since then? Why did you choose the "Apollo 13" film?

HANKS: I was -- first of all, "Apollo 13", Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Jack Swigert -- they are Jason and the argonauts. That is a story that is ripped right out of the great sagas of all of human kind.

This is what it comes through. Sitting at home, actually it was 1968 on Apollo 8, Jim Lovell was orbiting the moon with Frank Borman and Bill Anders. And on my mother's couch, I saw a live broadcast of what, oh, the planet earth, in black and white, on my television, in my mom's house over Christmas vacation.

Something in my feeble little brain could not quite fathom that I was watching us on earth from an orbiting spacecraft that was around the moon pointing a television camera back at us, and the only three people that were not in that photograph were the crew of Apollo 8, or the crew in that broadcast.

AMANPOUR: And you also think -- because again, we live in a very polarized world, right now we're in the middle of a terrible war, several terrible wars, people have lost faith in institutions, people are completely polarized, and tribalized on so many issues, even on climate.

Do you think the moon is kind of maybe the last institution and space travel and the exploration that people can trust in?

HANKS: Going to the moon requires a default setting that is not cynicism. It requires just the opposite. It actually requires faith in each other, trust in one's own abilities, to be improved by working with other people.

All we really need is enough of us to work together, and we can truly change the world. Right now, it seems as though not enough of us can work together.

Let's find an example of when that happens and I'm sorry, but going back to the moon is that very example, writ large.

AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you two film questions. A.I. and the writers and actors strike, you had written and talked about how, when you were young, you had to scratch out a living, and you know, you earned your paycheck, and it wasn't easy. A lot of these writers and actors are in the same position, and so they went on strike and they're worried about A.I. Did you support the strike?

HANKS: Oh, yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: And what do you think is the actual result of the resolution? Will that save them from the A.I. threat?

HANKS: I think -- I think there is a great river, there's a Rubicon that we are still crossing and I don't think we are quite in Greece yet -- excuse me, in Rome yet. Greece, that tells you where I go on vacation, doesn't it?


HANKS: And on the other side, there is going to be a landscape that is certainly scientific and artistic, and A.I. is a tool that can be used for nefarious reasons, and it can also be used in order to make things possible that haven't been possible.

The economics of it, the business of it that is coming down, I think that is the area that we're in still very unfamiliar landscape. Between everything that has happened with the lockdown, certainly with the economics, with streaming, we're not quite sure what works yet.

If great stories that truly do reach people come out, of whatever tools you're going to use in order to tell the story, deep fake technology, A.I. in order to buttress up the research that is out there, that's one thing. But in order to use it to make things cheaper, faster, less interesting, quicker, whatever it is -- well, then I don't know if I want to live in that Rome, but it's going to be -- it has not been decided. We are still in the very malleable circumstance right now when it comes down to the art and science, and industry of telling stories.

AMANPOUR: And you have to -- you had to go out and denounce an ad that was used by A.I. claiming to be you --


HANKS: Yes, that was phishing for information. They just wanted something to do. And that was about as primitive as you're going to get.

But here is the thing that has been proven ever since they put sprockets onto celluloid, movies can lie to you, and you might enjoy being lied to and believe everything, yes. But also movies can tell you a type of truth that is undeniable, both, you know, empirically, and also emotionally.

And A.I., along with the closeup, along with special effect shots, along with anything that is going to be some other tool that is going to be used by someone who is going to try to either curry your favor, and use it to their advantage, or move forward the art form of film.

AMANPOUR: Tom Hanks, Christopher Riley, thank you both very much indeed.

HANKS: There you go, about this.

AMANPOUR: Always a pleasure.


AMANPOUR: And back here on earth, as the body count climbs in Gaza, has the West failed the Middle East? One of the top experts on the region tells me that he's lost faith in

American foreign policy.

We'll be right back.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back.

The death toll in Gaza now stands at more than 17,000 Palestinians, according to their health ministry there. Since Israel has claimed to have killed more than 5,000 Hamas fighters, that would mean there are at least two civilians killed for every militant.

The Biden administration has been increasingly warning its ally to protect the innocent. Here are U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Vice President Kamala Harris this week.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED SATTES: Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating.

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: You see in this kind of a fight, the center of gravity is the civilian population. If you drive into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.


AMANPOUR: Now, one of the foremost experts on this part of the world Fawaz Gerges joined us with a deeply pessimistic view of today's American foreign policy.


AMANPOUR: Fawaz Gerges, welcome back to the program.

How do you think this war has affected or even changed the dynamic in the whole Middle East?

FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR MIDDLE EAST POLITICS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: I have been writing and researching on the Middle East for the past 30, 40 years. I have never seen the region as boiling, as implosive, as angry. There's so much hatred, there's so much rage, there's so much anger against both Israel and the United States.

My fear is that Gaza could easily become a time bomb that really implodes regional stability. I cannot tell you the extent of the popular anger and resentment and rage against the United States.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, how is it that this catastrophe was able to happen? Is there -- obviously Hamas committed it. But did the U.S. take its eye off the ball?

GERGES: Let me be direct. Biden's foreign policy does not differ very much from Trump's foreign policy. For the past two years, this administration has not made any major investment in either trying to stop the building of Jewish settlements or even to try to really bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state.

It pays lip service to the idea of a two-state solution. What did the Biden administration do in the past one year? It has tried to build up on Trump's deal of the century, to bring about normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel, and why? Because in the back of the mind of the Biden administration, and the Netanyahu government, normalization with Saudi Arabia, would mean the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The underlying idea in the administration, in the Biden administration and Benjamin Netanyahu, is that the Palestinians can be managed. The Palestinians can be controlled. The Palestinians can be subjugated. Why should we invest in the peace process?

AMANPOUR: So the United States, you're basically saying, and you have observed, thought that it could, a, take its eye off the Palestinian ball, and outsource that to these normalization deals between Israel and the Arab countries, with which it is not at war.


AMANPOUR: And the same, you could say, for the Arab countries, what has Saudi Arabia done, or the U.A.E. done. So what do you think the U.S. should do now? What is it saying? And what should the Arab leaders do?

GERGES: Christiane, anyone who is interested in peace in the Holy Land, anyone, should recognize that the so-called two-state solution that the United States has been talking about -- has been really paying lip service -- has not really produced anything. In fact, while the United States has been talking about a two-state solution, what has been happening on the ground, Christiane? You have now almost one million settlers, one million, who live in occupied Palestinian land on the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel was in a race, is in a race against time, to steal Palestinian land, to polarize the land, so in fact the talk about the two-state solution has brought about the consolidation of Israel's military occupation. And guess what, the undermining and the weakening of a Palestinian Authority.

AMANPOUR: So what happens now?

GERGES: Israel will never respond.

AMANPOUR: How does the United States continue its fierce loyalty which will never change to Israel, and finally, move towards -- because it is only going to be an internationalist movement, it is not going to be the party leader who does it.

GERGES: Christiane, if you ask me and I'm sorry about that, I really have no trust in American foreign policy. I have studied American foreign policy for many years not because some American policy makers are not decent people but because they really don't have the guts and the moral trench (ph) to tell Israel, it's enough. That American interests, and I'm talking as an American now, our interests lie in a stable peaceful Middle East.

A peaceful stable Middle East requires the Palestinians, allowing the Palestinians to have sovereignty in the nation, to end Israel's occupation, to establish two states living side by side in peace.

AMANPOUR: Many who support Palestinian statehood are also shocked. They believe Hamas not only created the most depraved attack on civilians we've seen for a long, long time -- I mean deliberate rapes, deliberate shooting in the genitals, killings of children, kidnappings of old people, Holocaust survivors, and civilians.

The very civilians who actually care about the Palestinians, those who were in the Kibbutz, et cetera.

Has Hamas finally and fatally miscalculated? And I'm also asking, because this is what, you know, this is what others are asking, if the Palestinians really want a leadership that can engage with the rest of the world, has Hamas not put itself out of the calling, out of the bidding?

GERGES: The Palestinians want dignity. The Palestinians want emancipation. The Palestinians want the end of Israeli occupation.

If you ask me now, who speaks for the Palestinians, and it's sad to say, Hamas now speaks for the Palestinians.


GERGES: Hamas now is the -- speaks for Palestinian's aspiration.


AMANPOUR: And of course, Israel continues its incursion, continues its offensive, and is saying that it is going after the top military leaders of Hamas.

Iran has so far stopped short of joining this war. But the Iranian people's battle for basic human rights rages inside its borders.

Up next, why no jail cell can silence the winner of this year's Nobel Peace prize and freedom fighter Narges Mohammedi. An exclusive conversation with her family is up next.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

A woman, a human rights advocate, and a freedom fighter, that's how the Nobel committee describes the fearless winner of this year's Peace prize. Narges Mohammadi, she has been fighting religious tyranny and oppression in Iran since a student. Now she's locked up in Evin, Iran's most notorious a prison, serving a ten-year sentence for charges that include spreading propaganda against the state, who she and her allies deny that and say she is a political victim.

Narges Mohammadi has been prevented from even holding her twins for the past eight years. In her absence, her family is accepting the Nobel for her and CNN correspondent Jomana Karadsheh traveled to Oso for an exclusive conversation with them.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ali and Kiana are preparing for the proudest moment of their lives. The day they'll stand on the world stage here in the historic Oslo City Hall to receive the Nobel Peace prize on behalf of their mother, Narges Mohammadi.

KIANA RAHMANI, DAUGHTER OF NARGES MOHAMMADI: This is a very symbolic for us. Narges is a flower in Iran.


KARADSHEH: We joined them as they got a first look at the room where they will also present her Nobel lecture, smuggled out of Iran's Evin prison.

"Standing here, I'm trying to visualize the crowd," Kiana tells us, "We will have to live up to this. A lot of important people will be here."

KARADSHEH: The 17-year-old twins whose first language is French, they were not yet nine when they left Iran with their father for self-exile in Paris after their mother was ripped away from them by a regime that has tried and failed to silence her.


ALI RAHMANI, SON OF NARGES MOHAMMEDI: we are extremely proud of all that she's done. But what really saddens us today is that she is not here. Because we should not be the ones being interviewed. That is my mother's right. But we do our best to be her voice and represent what is happening in Iran.

KARADSHEH: Their mother has been punished time and time again, sentenced to a total of 31 years and 154 lashes for standing up for political prisoners against the death penalty in the compulsory hijab, and for exposing sexual assaults in prison. She has been accused of anti-regime propaganda and threatening national security.

Her decades-long struggle for a free Iran honored in this exhibition at the Nobel Peace Center.

K. RAHMANI: So we have been able to tell the story about Narges from 1979, 1990 --

KARADSHEH: Part of the exhibit is this recreation of the tiny cell with prisoners like Mohammedi Narges and her husband who was also a political activist were locked up during solitary confinement.

The exhibition and Mohammadi's Nobel win also pay tribute to the people of Iran and their 2022 Women Life Freedom uprising.

K. RAHMANI: We're not just here for our family, but for freedom and democracy. We feel mostly proud, brave and determined, a determination we got mostly from our mother.

KARADSHEH: I can't imagine what it has been like for you growing up without your mother being there.

A. RAHMANI: From the time I was four, when my father was arrested by the revolutionary guards, I realized that my family would never have an ordinary life.

My mother has been more than just any mother. She chose to fight the government for me and my sister, so that my sister could have the same rights as me.

K. RAHMANI: Of course at times in my life, I wanted her by my side. At puberty, your body changes. It's the kind of question you would ask your mom. I had no one to ask so I learned by myself. I would have loved if she could have taken me shopping, taught me how wear makeup and how to handle my body.

Frankly I'm just glad she is alive because others have lost their loved ones and I can't even imagine what that feels like.

KARADSHEH: The family says Mohammadi has not been allowed to call them in nearly two years and they are worried about deteriorating health.

K. RAHMANI: I'm not very optimistic about ever seeing her again. My mom has a ten-year sentence left, and every time she does something, like send out the speech we will read out at the ceremony, that adds to her sentence.

Whatever happens, she will always be in my heart and I accept that, because the struggle, the movement, Woman Life Freedom, is worth it.

KARADSHEH: The pain of separation from her children is one Mohammadi lives with every single day. I asked her about this in August, with the help of intermediaries in Iran, she responded in writing.

Mohammadi said, quote, "if I look at the prison through the window of my heart, I was more of a stranger to my daughter and son than any stranger. But I'm sure that the world without freedom, equality, and peace is not worth living.

I have chosen not to see my children, or even hear their voices and be the voice of the oppressed people, women and children of my land.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN -- Oslo.


AMANPOUR: And up next, from one imprisoned freedom fighter to another. A look at Nelson Mandela's legacy, a decade after his death.


NELSON MANDELA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN LEADER: It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.




AMANPOUR: This week, we marked ten years since Nelson Mandela's death. He was elected as South Africa's first black president, after more than 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid, the decades of brutal white minority rule.

Around the world, Mandela is viewed as a moral compass, a model for how to emerge from conflict, agreeing to compromise, and preventing civil war.

But in South Africa today, the legacy of the African National Congress is being undermined by staggeringly high unemployment and pervasive corruption.

Mandela spent most of his years behind bars at the infamous Robben Island prison, reading and reflecting on history, and how to eventually lead a nation.

After his release, I visited Robben Island, to see the harsh inhumane conditions and how his time there is still remembered.


AMANPOUR: The ferry is not on a pleasure cruise. It is tracing a journey that humans used to make in chains, nine kilometers across the water on a one-way ticket to hell.

Tourists are mow coming to Robben Island, and the prison block that once held the world's most famous inmate.


They all believed we were monsters, we were anti-Christ, and that we could never see the sunlight.

AMANPOUR: Lionel Davis and other former inmates conduct the tours. They explain how food and clothes were rationed by race, the assault, the beatings, and how afterwards, prisoners were forced to scrub their own blood from the cells.

DAVIS: You will also notice that --

AMANPOUR: This is where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars, which made him a legend and his cell a shrine which were days in solitary confinement and nights on thin mats, shaped the prisoner who became president and fellow inmates who became his ministers.


AMANPOUR: This is the line (INAUDIBLE) area where they were forced to break rocks, their eyesight permanently damaged by the glare.

DAVIS: This was about pain. This was about people experiencing (INAUDIBLE). This was about people shifting little buckets (INAUDIBLE).

AMANPOUR: It's hard to digest when you see the beauty and the wildlife sanctuary. It's hard to imagine the cruelty that was done here.

Nelson Mandela called this the Iron Fist, the harshest outpost of South Africa's penal system. It was only after international pressure and pressure from sympathetic South Africans that conditions here began to improve.

Eventually they were allowed to study, to receive a visitor or a letter more than once every six months. But Mandela had to lobby for three years for the right to wear sunglasses in the quarry.

Tourists come from abroad, but it's the South Africans, black and white, who find their day of reckoning here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it makes you feel that such an evil thing was done in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Extreme sadness. We spent such a lot of time and energy and money and manpower and everything on people being locked away. My kids have to live with that.


AMANPOUR: And sadly, that happens all too often around the world. The next generation paying for the mistakes and misdeeds of their predecessors.

Now, as we reflect on Nelson Mandela's legacy, here's a look from my archive and my interview with Andrew Mlangeni, Mandela's last surviving fellow prisoner.

Peter Hayne, a British anti-apartheid leader joined us for this conversation back in 2018. But here the floor is Mangeni's.


ANDREW MLANGENI, MANDELA'S FELLOW PRISONER IN ROBBEN ISLAND: We're happy to be sentenced even to life imprisonment. We're happy because we escaped the death penalty. We know that ultimately we will come out.

As I said, we were very, very excited and happy that we're not sentenced to death.

AMANPOUR: Andrew, do you remember that moment when the whole world was watching the release?


AMANPOUR: What emotion did you feel when you saw that?

MLANGENI: Well, I was quite happy, I mean to see him come out. I said to myself that the government at last has kept their promise that after a few months after our release, he will follow.

Our release before Mandela was some sort of a feeler.

AMANPOUR: A feeler.

MLANGENI: A feeler.

AMANPOUR: Just a few months before his release?

MLANGENI: To see how the people in the country are going to behave, because originally they were saying we fear that if we release Mandela, the country will go up in flames. That's what they were saying. The country will go up in flames.

So when they released us, we knew that's a feeler to see how people are going to behave.

AMANPOUR: I didn't know that. That's a great story.

But he gave up the anger and he decided to forgive and to move on. Were you angry when you came out? Were you resentful of the injustice of all those years in prison?

MLANGENI: All of us -- all of us decided on Robben Island already that we cannot on our own run the country at that time. We did not have the knowledge of governing the country. We were denied all the other things that white people, the white children had learned.

We didn't have that. The whites lived in South Africa together with us and we are saying we've got to work with them, we could jointly build the economy of the country and try to bring peace in the country.


AMANPOUR: These were such important thoughts and policy decisions. Mlangeni died in July 2020. And in South Africa today, many of the black majority Mandela liberated warned that his shiny legacy is being tarnished by unworthy successors.

When we come back, more of your questions and my answers. "Ask Amanpour" is next.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back.

Clarity is more important than ever in our complicated world. That's why I'm taking questions about the events shaping tomorrow.

So let's see what's on your mind this week.


JONATHAN STEPHEN, VIEWER: This Jonathan Stephen (ph) from (INAUDIBLE).

As a concerned citizen of the world and as a father of an 11-year-old girl, how can I add to the democratic voice of the world? Democracy is starting to feel increasingly like an endangered species.


AMANPOUR: Look, I think you can add, and everybody can, by teaching our children civics, by teaching them to be engaged, by teaching them that what they do matters.

It is true that according to a European university that tracks these things, there are right now more illiberal democracies or autocracies around the world than actual liberal democracies.

And as we see in Washington with the struggle over whether to continue funding Ukraine's fight for our democracy and their own we realize that everything is at stake right now.


AMANPOUR: That's all we have time for. I'll have more of your questions and my answers next week.

And if you want to ask me a question, scan the QR code on your screen or email and remember to tell us your name and where you're from.

Don't forget, you can find all our shows online as podcasts at and on all other major platforms.

I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, thanks for watching. And I'll see you again next week.