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The Mandela Memorial

Aired December 10, 2013 - 05:30   ET


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But I know that when I've spoken to his personal assistant, she didn't know how to -- what to call him. And she said Mr. Mandela felt too formal. Mr. President felt too formal. She felt Madiba was a little bit too informal. I know you have trouble saying it as well. You find that too.

So, she called him kooloo (ph) which means grandfather. So, there is all this wonderful -- familial sense of people around him trying to embrace him on all levels, but mostly as a father and as a grandfather.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And Rick Stengel who co-authored Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom" is also joining us out of New York. Did Mandela like the name Nelson, this name that was given to him his first day of school?

RICK STENGEL, TIME MANAGING EDITOR: Anderson, of all the time I spent with him, I don't remember anyone ever calling him Nelson except for the queen and I wasn't there when that happened. It's funny. You were talking about it before. It was Methodist school near Qunu. And I remember assuming when we talked about it, that his -- that had he a White teacher. His teacher was actually an African teacher.

And to go back to him growing up there, one of the reasons that he had such great self-confidence, such great awareness that he was in viewed with African history is that his youth was basically not affected by any White powers or White government. He didn't experience any prejudice when he was growing up. That's one of the things that gave him great confidence.

When I was in the (INAUDIBLE) with him, people almost always referred to him as Madiba. It seemed almost like a local name. it was a clan name of the Thembu tribe in that particular region of the eastern cape. It was a term of veneration. It was for an elder.

And oftentimes, when we would take walks early in the morning and go to these small villages, he would introduce himself as Madiba even at time when people didn't even know who he was. They understood who Madiba was.

COOPER: Rick, there was really an interesting process just as Nelson Mandela as a young man came to Johannesburg. Many South Africans, many Black South Africans came to cities in order to find work, and that process, that urbanization is something that really began to kind of break down some of the barriers between clans, between ethnic groups and that was something that was really an important part of kind of overcoming the White efforts to keep groups divided.

STENGEL: That's exactly true, Anderson. There was a great migration to cities in the 1940s and 1950s in South Africa. It was the thing that radicalized and revolutionized Nelson Mandela, but one of the kind of parts of the evil genius of apartheid was the (INAUDIBLE) system which was basically trying to move Africans out of the cities and back into these remote rural areas where the government was trying to re-create these tribal and traditional areas.

It was pernicious system. It was something that he hated. It separated families, but urbanization, as you said, really broke down a lot of the traditional and tribal differences in different parts of South Africa.

COOPER: And for Mandela, that was critical in order to see himself not just as a member of the Thembu clan or the HOSA, but to see himself as an African?

STENGEL: Yes, indeed. And I think as he writes in "Long Walk to Freedom," he had never directly experience racial prejudice until he left as a young man to go to Johannesburg. Remember, he had a pretty privileged upbringing unlike many other members of the ANC. He went to boarding school. He went away to college, and then he run away to Johannesburg.

It was there that he first felt the lash of prejudice and it really changed him. It radicalized him. It made him attractive to the ANC. He met Walter Sisulu, one of the great early leaders of the ANC, really his mentor, a man who he spent all of those years with on Robben Island. And Walter used to tell a lovely story, that he was a real estate agent in Soweto and he was looking for a leader of the ANC.

The ANC wanted to be a mass organization, and then he said one day, a mass leader walked into my office. It was Nelson Mandela.

COOPER: We are going to take a short break. We expect President Obama very shortly. We're going to take a short break. We'll bring that to you, of course, live. We'll be right back.


COOPER: And welcome back to the memorial for Nelson Mandela here in FNB Stadium in Soweto outside Johannesburg. Not as many crowds, not as many people here I think as expected. The stadium is, by no, means full. It seats some 90,000 people under tens of thousands of people here, but it's certainly not full.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some local reporters have been saying that, perhaps, a combination of concerns, not just the weather but the traffic snarls, the transportation, the pickups. But also, people probably concerned about what they thought might be massive security for these 91 heads of state, and apparently, with two other stadiums that were meant for overflow, they're not full. But, of course, people will watch on television. COOPER: Yes, a lot of people -- this is obviously in South Africa. A huge, huge story. The nation has been transfixed over the last several days and it's really, in some respect, come to a standstill. President Obama expected very shortly. We'll also bring you his arrival when it happens and we also expect to hear from a nephew of President Mandela and really the first time we'll hear from a family member of Mandela and we'll bring that to you.

We haven't been showing you all of the speeches, because frankly, there's a lot of audio issues, video issues as well.

AMANPOUR: Due to the rain.

COOPER: Due to the rain. So, this is a pool camera. This is not our camera. So, we've been dipping in and out whenever possible.

CURNOW: And just to give our audience some sense. This is Andrew Mlangeni. He is one of the few surviving original Rivonia trialist, that massive trial, where they were expected to be sentenced today, so you know, for trying to overthrow the government.

COOPER: This is the trial that sent Nelson Mandela to prison.

CURNOW: But they were expecting the death penalty. So, when they got life imprisonment, I suppose a sense of relief is one thing, but you know that, that was also at that famous when Mandela took to the dock and he said, this is a cause from which I am prepared to die and I think he really acknowledged in 1964 that he was willing to die and I think this is an extraordinary gift South Africa got that really we're only celebrating his death all these decades later.

AMANPOUR: And I think, you know, he made that incredible speech and Richard Stengel was saying, he said it's ideal that he hoped to live to see but that he was prepared to die for because he thought he was going to get the death penalty.

COOPER: I saw an interview with George Bezos (ph). He was an attorney for Mandela and Bezos, upon hearing what Mandela was going to say, counseled Mandela. But maybe you should say --

AMANPOUR: If need be,

COOPER: If need be, because he didn't want Mandela to be antagonizing the judge and sort of provoking him for a death penalty. Let's listen in.


BALEKA MBETE, NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON, AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS: All of those who are here to mourn him deeply. Right now, we would like to call General Thanduxolo Mandela to come and pay tribute on behalf of the family.

GENERAL THANDUXOLO MANDELA, NELSON MANDELA'S NEPHEW: (INAUDIBLE) The first cities in our country, President Zuma, presidents, royal highnesses, excellences of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen -- charged with raw emotions, grave, sorrow, and anguish, allow me to respectfully -- officials and protocols have been already expressed on this solemn occasion. We come here -- and dedicate venue in communities around South Africa and via television, radio, and worldwide web -- to mourn the great man, but also to celebrate a glorious life lived.

Today, more than any other, feeling hope is to last that wonderful life. On behalf of the family, we take this opportunity to extend our sincere gratitude to the religious communities and various other communities around the globe for they are taught prayers and messages of similarity and solidarity which they have generously extended to our family.

Indeed, our pain and sorrow is daily being lessened by the outpouring national and international faith for our father and elder. We're always been mindful that we share Madiba with the rest of South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world. Indeed, Madiba was a great man but was humble in all things. His soul, his greatness and what it means to dominate --


COOPER: By the way, if you're watching at home and you're thinking, gosh, it's kind of hard to hear what he's saying. It is ten times harder to hear what he's saying for the people in this stadium. So, it's not as if everybody in this stadium is sitting here actually able to hear what the speakers are saying. People are just kind of hanging out. There's not really many people listening to what the speaker is actually saying.

CURNOW: You wonder, does it matter for them? They're here. They don't seem to be bothered. There's a sense of quietness. They're just enjoying being here. Of course, it would be great if the sound I think was worked out a little bit better, and perhaps, they've got sound people working on it. But people seem to be relishing the fact that they're here.

COOPER: It is, obviously, a historic day and extraordinary day and a day which this nation has paused to watch. We're going to take a short break and our coverage continues.


COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of Nelson Mandela's memorial service. I'm joined by Christian Amanpour, Robyn Curnow. I'm Anderson Cooper. One of the nephew of Mandela is speaking right now, but very hard for the crowd here to hear what he says.

AMANPOUR: It is, but you know, they're hearing the spirit (ph) of the things. It's a great big stadium. They're coming to sing and dance. They're listening to everybody. And here's a thing. This is a politician who's going to be missed, you know? Some satirist have said for the first time in recorded history, a political leader is going to be missed.

And I think it's really important to state over and over again that he was elected and he stepped down.

COOPER: That's extraordinary thing.

AMANPOUR: So many African and East Asian and other leaders just do not. And this is such an important point, to hum a (ph) a home over and over again. He gave the real example of what democracy is and how you have to have a peaceful, you know, rollover of democracy.

COOPER: He could have very easily stayed for a second term.

AMANPOUR: People wanted him too. Yes.

COOPER: But he turned things over to Thabo Mbeki who was not even the person he wanted to succeed him, but it was what the ANC wanted, the party and power.

CURNOW: He had a deep sense of timing, didn't he? And he knew it would give such a great message to Africa or into the world. And he also knew when it was over, it was over.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And by the way, we've neglected to say today, December 10th, 1996, is the day that Nelson Mandela signed the South African new constitution. So, it's also a very important day today.

COOPER: Rick Stengel is joining us. He's the co-author of Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk of Freedom." We just lost Rick, so we'll try to get him. I want to talk to him about that transition and what Mandela said about it. I mean, Mandela was very conscious of sort of propriety and setting the right tone for his successor.

AMANPOUR: Absolutely. And you know, he was never the great administrator.

COOPER: In fact, Thabo Mbeki, who was his successor, to the one who really ran the sort of day-to-day.

AMANPOUR: But people who have worried in the post-Mandela era, democracy will somehow be threatened. Black and Whites are saying today that, actually, his great legacy is that they have established a democracy here, that there are peaceful rollover elections have been (INAUDIBLE). And there's a constitution.

CURNOW: And a constitution which is the blueprint and foundation of Mandela's world.

AMANPOUR: So, people think this country now is on solid ground. Many other challenges the economy, poverty, inequality --

CURNOW: Corruption.

AMANPOUR: -- corruption and all of that.

CURNOW: And I think when we do talk about corruption and I think when South Africans have been out there celebrating, pausing to consider what he's meant to him, and I've said it before, you know, I think there's also the sort of stopping and thinking, you know, are South Africans on the right road? Is the ANC betraying that original vision? And if you look at President Zuma's, you know, track record, it seemed to have lurched from corruption scandal to corruption scandal.

I think many people are sick of that because Mandela, in many ways, was very, very unmaterialistic. So, there's a very, very interesting comparison, I think, between the current presidency where you're talking about huge upgrades to mansions and houses and huge blue light brigades and Mandela did things very simply.

I think South Africans talk about look to that, as you know, the man who just his post presidential house was built as the same model. He went and got the architectural plans of that last house he stayed in when he was in prison, the warden's house, and he got that rebuilt. So that gives you an idea of the kind of man and the kind of presidency that he had.


COOPER: -- we are talking about the world leaders who are here. I mean, really, it's an unprecedented collection of world leaders and family members here now are going to be taking the stage. These are the younger generation of the Mandela family, the grandchildren.


COOPER: Let's listen in.

PUMLA MANDELA, NELSON MANDELA'S GREAT-GRANDFATHER: On behalf of the family, I would like to thank all the heads of states that are here. Thank you. Madiba (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) struck by lightning bolt in the dead of night, days that disoriented and grappling with emotion -- Caught in the whirlwind. What do I do? When sadness and celebrations comingle, the body shatters, shakes and implodes.

And winds blow memories, the lands dream of a future of Madiba. You are lodged in our memories. Tower overall the world like a comet. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Madiba. God. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) message of peace and love and reconciliation. Shall we walk in these footsteps? Madiba, they say you are a brilliant man. They say you're a wise man.

MBUSO MANDELA, NELSON MANDELA'S GRANDSON: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -- freedom (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) of peace and reconciliation. The giant tree is falling. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -- peace, of love, and reconciliation. So, we walk in these footsteps. Madiba, you are a brilliant man. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -- brilliant,too.

You are a wise man. You remind him of a wise man, too. They say (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) who is first or charming too. They say you are resilient. Was not more resilient? You reflect mind and heart and rejoice. People reflect as lenders of our dream and taught us that a group of trees break the limb, but the tree that towers above the rest is broken by the wind and challenge of the wind of the land. Child of dreams of a future where Black and White, rich and poor and men, women, and children must live side-by-side dreaming a safe dream realizing that the time in our land we salute you.

Thank you very much. Here I ask that we should show discipline. The same level of discipline that Madiba exuded. When we applaud, let us applaud as someone who has spoken. Behind me here, I know that.


COOPER: The crowd erupting right now. President Obama from the United States up on the screen with first lady Michelle next to the Polish prime minister.

CURNOW: The Danish prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, it appears to be.

COOPER: And the crowd went wild. They also have been very different reaction there.

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE ANC: I now ask the secretary-general of the United Nations, Mr. Ban ki-Moon, to come and pay a tribute on behalf of the United Nations.

BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Thanks. President of South Africa, to the Mandela family, your highnesses, and head of state and government -- South Africa, ladies and gentlemen, I am deeply honored to participate in this state memorial service for the late former Nelson Mandela. We join together in sorrow -- and celebration of mighty life.

A wondrous display of this rainbow nation. In nature, rainbow emerges from rain and the sun. It is the symbol of -- and gratitude that I feel today. I hope you will be able to see the rainbow soon. Through the rain of sadness and the sun of celebration, a rainbow is our hearts. On behalf of the United Nations, I offer my deepest condolences to the Mandela family, and to many -- here, and the Mandela's larger family, the people of South Africa, this is a great continent and in this world.

Ladies and gentlemen, this stadium holds tens of thousands of people, but people in the arena even as big as African continent could not contain our pain today. South Africa has lost a hero. They've lost a father (INAUDIBLE) friend and mentor. Nelson Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time. He was he was one of our greatest teachers.

He taught by example. He sacrificed so much and was willing to give up everything here for freedom and equality, for democracy, and justice. His compassion stands out most. He was angry at injustice. He hated hatred (INAUDIBLE) He showed awesome power and -- with each other and with the true meaning of peace.

That was his unique gift and that was a lesson he shared with all human kind. He has done it again. Look around the stadium. We see those representing many points of view and people from all walks of life.