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The Mandela Memorial; Interview with British Prime Minister David Cameron

Aired December 10, 2013 - 05:00   ET


CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, ANC DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leaders and excellences of various countries who have come South Africa, Mrs. Graca Machel, Winnie Mandela --


RAMAPHOSA: The Mandela family.


RAMAPHOSA: The leadership of the ruling party, the African National Congress.


RAMAPHOSA: And the leadership of various other political parties, religious leaders and everyone else who is here, I welcome you in the name of our President Jacob Zuma and the Mandela family.

My name is Cyril Ramaphosa. I have been asked by President Jacob Zuma to be your program director. We always trust that you will work with us --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Cyril Ramaphosa speaking. The audio in the stadium is not so great. I'm told for our audience at home.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is introducing all of the current and former South African presidents, including Thabo Mbeki and F.W. de Klerk, the last white president of South Africa. He got a very respectable cheer from the crowd.

You see the anguished faces of the Mandela family and Graca Machel and the children and the grand children. And eventually, we'll start to hear the tributes and hear from the family members. We'll hear from President Zuma, President Obama.

A huge cheer went up when the Chinese vice president came in. I believe it's the vice president is here representing China. Let's not forget, incredibly, the Chinese have invested so much in Africa.

COOPER: All across Africa.

AMANPOUR: Oh, it's just unbelievable. And, in fact, they have taken over if not taken over U.S. influence in the investment here. ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From a foreign policy perspective this country and much of Africa has been turning East and they are very acutely aware for themselves that the financial and diplomatic clout that they look to in the future comes from China. And that was acknowledged most recently.

COOPER: One person not here is the Dalai Lama. Government here said they didn't have time to process his visa basically. The real reason is they didn't want to insult China, who's obviously in the --

CURNOW: And that's happened before because the Dalai Lama was also effectively barred from going to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's 80th celebration a few years ago. The authorities have used this excuse essentially of visa processing to avoid a rather sticky diplomatic question.

COOPER: And there we see Archbishop Tutu sitting two people away from Thabo Mbeki.

AMANPOUR: Kofi Annan. It's hard to see this picture.

COOPER: We have a monitor here that is difficult to see.

It is the Desmond Tutu. I mean, it's certainly a name many people in the United States and around the world know grow up. They are from the same neighborhood as Nelson Mandela and really an extraordinary leader in the anti-apartheid movement.

CURNOW: Absolutely. I think Desmond Tutu essentially became the voices of the struggle while he was away. Remember also Desmond Tutu is still very much seen as the moral voice. He's also often taken on the mantle of Mandela as he got sicker.

Desmond tutu has come out. Very critical of ANC, the liberation movement that Mandela led in the last few years and essentially accusing them of deviating from Mandela's original vision. So it has been transferred or continued still through Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

RAMAPHOSA: When we lay him to rest knowing that our memories of him will endure.

COOPER: Outside the stadium, still people streaming in. No doubt it's going to be full in an hour or two even though the rain continues.

AMANPOUR: You know what is extraordinary as we watch some of the formality? The military band playing the national anthem. Obviously, blacks are in the military. But those last years before Mandela became president, the ministry was about instigating civil war, this head of the security force, his name was (INAUDIBLE) I'm sure I'm not pronouncing it right. He was going to instigate a civil war as a way to forget this, you know, effort to dismantle apartheid.

Mandela got wind of it so the story goes, invited this man to his house, asked him he would like tea and he bought him tea. Asked him if he wanted milk, he poured him milk. Asked him if he want sugar, put the sugar in and stirred it.

This is a man who was going to instigate civil war, already there was violence all over South Africa, extremist whites, the freedom party. It was just a disaster. People say the fact the election went off at all in '94 was a miracle.

But Mandela disarmed literally this man by having him over for tea. He left. No civil war, Mr. Mandela.

COOPER: We have spoken about how Mandela learned the language of the oppressor in Afrikaans, and got into the mind of how Afrikaners think. It was that. He knew Afrikaans history, and he actually said with you may win the battle but not the war.

Look back at your history. And as you said, prevented insurrection.

CURNOW: And there was a sense he learned it when he was a boy in those rural hills. He used to stick fight with his friend. There is a story about how in those stick fighting games as a boy, barefoot, he learned to win but not dishonor your opponent. And it was that kind of analogy that he took through and he used it to great effect over and over again.

AMANPOUR: Our colleague Isha Sesay is just outside the stadium watching all of these people come in.

Isha, what is it looking like out there?


The crowd is continuing to come into this area and make their way to the FNB stadium even though the rain is pouring down.

One of the things that is quite remarkable is that despite the fact it is raining so heavily, when you see the large groups come down this walkway and make their way to the entrance, they are still singing and dancing, and they're still pausing in the rain, to dance and sing in unison. And I think it's because, as we know singing and dancing is so integral to South African culture. It's how they celebrate when they are happy and how they celebrate when they are sad.

That is part of today. They want to sing, they want to dance as one as they make their way to the memorial. Quite incredible scenes that you aren't really seeing people running for the entrance for FNB stadium. In large part, they're still dancing together and singing together and they are wearing their colors of South Africa, carrying the flag. Also draped in a lot of fabric that has the face of Nelson Mandela on it and all unit as one and living in the rainbow nation and seeing it play out as people stream down this road and make their way to the stadium behind me, Christiane.

COOPER: Just about everywhere the last several days, we have seen people selling Nelson Mandela T-shirts and sarongs with his face on it. Let's listen a little bit more to Cyril Ramaphosa.

RAMAPHOSA: -- of the Christian faith to give us opening prayers. Please go ahead, Rabbi (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God and King who's full of compassion. God the spirit of all flesh in whose hands are the souls of the living and the dead, receive we beseech you in your great loving kindness the soul of Nelson Mandela who has been gathered unto his people.

Remember him for the righteousness with which he has done. Remember alone how he exemplified the finest qualities of your servant Joseph, whose great leadership, generosity of spirit and powers of forgiveness. We read in your Hebrew bible. Joseph, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham was thrown into a pit with snakes by his brothers. They were full of hatred and jealousy towards them and then he was sold into slavery and exiled from his father and from his home for 22 years. Many of which --

COOPER: Nelson Mandela really was not a particularly religious man. I think he was born a Methodist if I'm not mistaken, but he's really a man of strong religious faith outwardly.

CURNOW: No. His family told me he wasn't a man of faith. He believed in infinity. What is key about Mandela when you look to him and his sense of himself and where he got his strength from, where, in fact, he got his spirituality from was really those rural roots, his African traditional existence.

And I think that's -- we will say it over and over again. Being closer about the Thembu clan, he was imbibed, his childhood was filled with rituals and ceremonies and that still was very much in the way he thought even as he, you know, emerged as a modern man, you know, with a law degree and he became president. This is why there is this wonderful mixture of faith that is more deeply rooted in these ancient traditions of Africa than traditional waste in religion essentially.

COOPER: We've got to take a break. When we come back, I want to talk about the name Nelson Mandela, not his give name at birth, but a fascinating story, how he got the name Nelson. We'll be right back.

Our coverage continues from here at FNB stadium.


COOPER: And welcome back our continuing coverage of the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. I'm Anderson Cooper, along with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Robyn Curnow, the name nelson Mandela, Nelson was a name given to him his first day of school which was come on practice then?

CURNOW: Absolutely. His given name was Rolihlahla, which a literal translation means troublemaker. I think he was quite proud of that, because he liked the idea of seeing himself as a troublemaker. He was an agitator. He was a rebel in spite of also being an aristocrat and a statesman. And I think that name, in a way, probably identifies with him more when you look back.

COOPER: A sense of the oppression in this country at the time that a black child with an African name on his first day of school, the teacher assigns him a name that she is more comfortable with, Nelson, just as -- even when people went to trial, judges often, if the defendant had name that was hard to pronounce, they would say for the purposes of this proceedings, we are going to call you John, which gives you a sense of the level of impression that people's names weren't their own.

AMANPOUR: I wonder whether he took to the name Nelson Mandela, whether he took the name Nelson. You know, the British influence. Mandela had great fondness for --

COOPER: He said he was anglophile.

AMANPOUR: Yes, he did. I just interviewed Prime Minister David Cameron, just before this tribute began. He was here. And we grabbed him for an interview about what this day means to him and what the relationship was and is between Mandela, South Africa, and Britain.

Take a listen.


AMANPOUR: What does it mean for you to be here, first of all?

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It means a lot because it's really to say goodbye to an extraordinary man and to commemorate someone who did so much not just for South Africa but also for the world in terms of the inspiration that he gave. Most of all, I think, the fact he was able to forgive those that had done so much wrong to him. He set an example to leaders and to politicians, to his people and to the world that really doesn't have a parallel.

AMANPOUR: The queen, Queen Elizabeth was very saddened by his passing and he had several visits to Buckingham Palace and they got on his team very well. But obviously, he had a difficult relationship with Britain during the anti-apartheid time. Margaret Thatcher was not probe to sanctions.

Tell me the evolution of the relationship between South Africa and Britain.

CAMERON: It's always said he had an amazing relationship with the queen. I think he is the only person who can get away with calling her Elizabeth, is so is the story what I'm told. Britain has very close ties and very close history with South Africa. I think everyone in Britain opposed the apartheid regime. Margaret Thatcher opposed the apartheid regime and indeed called for Mandela to be released. But there wasn't an argument about sanctions in the 1980s.

And as I've written about it in the past, I'm not sure the consecutive party took the right call but I think everyone was saying apartheid had to change and it had to go and we needed a multiracial democratic South Africa.

I think what no one quite believed was that it could come about as peacefully as it did and that really was down to Mandela. We shouldn't also forget what F.W. de Klerk did. The fact he made some very brave moves, but really the struggle of Mandela followed by the grace and forgiveness of Mandela is what gave this country an extraordinary chance to be I think one of the success stories in the 21st century.

AMANPOUR: And what do you think now in the post-Mandela era. Obviously, much of Africa has gone democratic since he was relieved but people are very concerned about the ANC, the corruption, incoming inequality. You know, South Africa's economic stance, where do you think the hope for the future lies, including in politics?

CAMERON: There is, obviously, a lot of work to be done but I'm an optimist. If I look across Africa you can see some Democratic success stories now. You can see some economic success stories and South Africa has the opportunity to be the economy that is the engine of South Africa and I think if they follow the example of Mandela and remember in politics, it matters a lot what your recent history, what your institutions are, what examples you choose to live up to. Now, all of the people here have got the most amazing icon for their future politicians to try and live up to.

Now, whether they win or not is a matter for them. But it does matter. Like British politics. When you have, you know, massive figures like Winston Churchill that have sat in the chair you now sit in, it doesn't mean sadly that you're like them but it does mean that you've got heroes to try and live up to, the people of South Africa, indeed, all of Africa in Mandela have an immense icon who I think will be looking down at them in the future and they will be looking up to him and hopefully, emulating and treasuring his memory.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, thank you on this day.

CAMERON: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: So, obviously, Cameron a young man very moved by the Mandela experience.

CURNOW: Absolutely. He mentioned the queen and their relationship. There was sort of a charming relationship between Mandela and the queen. Besides the fact he can call her Elizabeth because she is a rather stickler for protocol.

COOPER: I wonder how that went down the first time he did it?

CURNOW: He wouldn't have cared because she called him Nelson and he thought I'm going to call her Elizabeth.

But what I've also heard is that he once when he hadn't seen her in a while arrived in Buckingham Palace, took one look at here, and said, "Elizabeth, you've lost weight!"

COOPER: Really?


COOPER: Fantastic.

CURNOW: I don't know how many people have managed to say that. He had a wonderful way with words.

AMANPOUR: His personal relationship actually, and, of course, as this ceremony multi-faith, interfaith part of this ceremony continues, many different denominations are going to be speaking.

We're going to take a break. And we'll be back with more of our coverage, just after it.


COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the memorial for Nelson Mandela, the celebration of his life, remembrance of his remarkable leadership of this country. I'm joined by Robyn Curnow and chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, an extraordinary event.

The stadium is filling up. Still more people arriving, thousands of more people still outside. As you see, people dancing outside despite the rain. There is a great sense of celebration and there really has been, for the last several days.

AMANPOUR: There really has been. I think the rain, everybody will acknowledge, has played a little bit of a dampener role in the logistics because of the nations buses were put in disposal. Free rides from --

COOPER: Let's listen in to what the crowd is hearing.


COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage.

President Obama is in South Africa. He arrived earlier. We have some video actually of the arrival. It's not just President Obama. The First Lady Michelle Obama as well. Former President George W. Bush is with the president. Hillary Clinton also arrived on Air Force One, along with -- here is the arrival.

Former President Bill Clinton came separately as did former President Jimmy Carter. There you see George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush.

CURNOW: Both Michelle Obama and Barack Obama have said how much he inspired them when Mrs. Michelle met him last year.

COOPER: Let's listen in.


COOPER: We were talking earlier about the name Nelson Mandela, the name also Madiba. Explain that because many refer to him as Madiba. CURNOW: It's his clan name. And it's the name of affection, of intimacy. It's better than just Mr. Mandela or Mandela. He actually preferred to be called Madiba.


CURNOW: And I think people didn't know how to refer to him. That sense he was a father figure or a grandfather played in and he was connected and rooted to his South African traditions. So, Madiba just became more and more use. And so, you'll find most South Africans will refer to him as Madiba. But what's also interesting is a lot of people just blanketly refer to him as Tata, which is father.

So, when you talk about Tata, there's only one really father and the father of a nation but also sort of personal intimate. No, he is my father too.

I know when I've spoken to Zelda La Grange, his personal assistant, she didn't know what to call him. She said Mr. Mandela felt too formal, Mr. President felt too formal. She thought Madiba was a little bit too formal. I know you have trouble saying it as well. You find that, too.

So, she called him culo, which means grandfather. So, there is all these wonderful familial fans of people around him, trying to embrace him on all levels, but mostly as a father and as a grandfather.