All In With Chris Hayes, Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
December 5, 2013
Guest: Barbara Lee, Danny Schechter, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Ebrahim
Rasool, Donald Gips, Maya Wiley
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
A moral titan, a hero for the ages, one of the greatest men of our
time is dead tonight. Nelson Mandela passing away today at the age of 95.
Shortly after his death, South African President Jacob Zuma addressed
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB ZUMA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: Fellow South Africans, our
beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding president of our democratic
nation, has departed. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people
have lost a father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: South Africa and the world in mourning at this moment. World
leaders expressing their condolences.
President Obama addressed us earlier this evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He achieved more than
could be expected of any man. And today, he`s gone home. And we`ve lost
one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings
that any of us will share time with on this Earth.
I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson
Mandela`s life. My very first political action, the first thing I ever did
that involved an issue or a policy or politics was a protest against
apartheid. I would study his words and his writings. The day he was
released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when
they`re guided by their hopes and not by their fears.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Mandela was born in 1918 in eastern Cape Province, South
Africa, one of 13 children in the family of a fairly high status clan. He
would go on to be a lawyer after an incredibly rare education in a white
supremacist nation that was explicitly ordered in every single
particularity around the subjugation, oppression, alienation and
degradation of the black majority of its people.
Mandela co-founded the youth league of the African National Congress,
a group dedicated to equal rights and overthrowing the system of apartheid
or apartness in Afrikaans, the racial segregation upon which the republic
of South Africa had been founded.
For this activity, the apartheid government, armed with a vast secret
police, branded Mandela an enemy of the state. Mandela was forced into
In a stunning 1961 broadcast, his first televised interview, the 42-
year-old activist in hiding spoke with ITN`s Brian Widlake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WIDLAKE, ITN: I asked him what it was the Africans really
NELSON MANDELA, ANTI-APARTHEID ICON: The Africans want the franchise
on the basis of one man, one vote. They want political independence.
WIDLAKE: Do you see Africans being able to develop in this country
without the Europeans being pushed out?
MANDELA: We have made it very clear in our policy that South Africa
is a country of many races. There is room for all the races in this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Mandela emerged from hiding and would be tried along with
eight others for treason, a capital crime. All but one were convicted.
Mandela was sent to Robben Island Prison, where he spent the first 18 years
of his 27-year imprisonment. During those 27 years, the African National
Congress, in concert with a global growing movement, increased the pressure
on the apartheid regime, turning it into an international pariah.
And under tremendous, persistent, largely nonviolent resistance and
international sanction, in 1990, after 27 years in a cell, Nelson Mandela
was released. Four years later, voters of South Africa, black and white,
would go to the polls in the first democratic election in that country and
elect Mandela their president, with 62 percent of the national vote.
Mandela set about to do what at the time seemed an impossible task,
stitching together these two people. One oppressed, degraded for years,
the other now a minority and fearing they would be completely disempowered
and the new republic would be dominated by vengeance and incrimination.
In his inaugural speech, Mandela stressed it would not be that way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANDELA: We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society, in
which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall,
without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to
human dignity, a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Mandela would peacefully transfer power after a single five-
year term and lived to become a wise older statesman, the founder of a new
nation and the living embodiment of its best values and highest
Joining me now from Johannesburg, South Africa, is Rohit Kachroo,
Africa correspondent for our sister network, ITV.
And, Rohit, I cannot imagine the mood in South Africa at this moment.
ROHIT KACHROO, ITV: It`s a strange mood, and it`s very early in the
morning here. So it`s difficult to gauge the mood right across the
country, but what I can say outside the home of Nelson Mandela in the
suburbs of Johannesburg is this huge crowd has been building, of perhaps
300 or 400 people. Mainly young people, mainly so-called born frees. That
is the generation of people who were born after the birth of democracy, who
have no living memory of the dark years of apartheid.
They have been here singing songs -- singing songs from this anti-
apartheid struggle. And the crowd has been growing and growing and not a
single one of them, I`ve seen crying. They`ve all been cheering and
celebrating, respecting his life. Not really mourning, and perhaps that`s
not too surprising, because this news was not unexpected.
Nelson Mandela was 95 years old. He had been suffering from a very
serious respiratory illness for the last six months, particularly badly.
And so, this was a predictable piece of news, but painful, nonetheless. So
painful for South Africans who call Nelson Mandela the father of their
nation, the father of democracy, the man whose 27 years in prison, much of
it spent on Robben Island in solitary confinement, helped to end the years
of racist rule by the apartheid regime in South Africa.
And for that, there are so many millions of South Africans who owe him
HAYES: It`s profoundly moving to see the generation that you are
referring to, born free, outside the home of Mandela. It`s so striking,
there is so few examples of the kind of transformation and liberation in
the last 20 years, there`s almost nothing that compares to it in terms of
the change that was brought about in the fates and futures and lives of
every one of these people by Mandela and his co-strugglers in this great
KACHROO: That`s right. I mean, there is no one in the world like
Nelson Mandela. And there is no country in the world like South Africa.
No nation that went to the negotiating table and managed to talk its way
out of its most serious, most immediate problems in those early years of
democracy, when everyone here thought that this country would go up in
I sat down with Nelson Mandela`s close friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu
recently, the religious leader during the anti-apartheid struggle. And he
said so eloquently, we all thought this country would go up in smoke, and
he said it would have had it not been for the work of Nelson Mandela, and
there were other people. He was always keen to mention those other people.
He said himself, "I am not a saint, but a sinner." He keeps on trying
and it`s a sign of his personality, of his character that he was always so
willing to knowledge those other people who contributed to the anti-
But he was the icon of that struggle. He did more, certainly,
visibly, than anyone else did. And the cry, "Free Nelson Mandela" during
the final years of apartheid, during his years in prison on Robben Island
became the battle cry of this struggle to end apartheid and to bring back
freedom and democracy in this country.
HAYES: Rohit Kachroo from ITV News, thank you very much for joining
Joining me now is Reverend Al Sharpton, host of "POLITICS NATION",
which airs weekdays at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC.
And Congressman Barbara Lee, Democrat from California. She was an
election observer in South Africa, when Mandela was elected president and
worked on the legislative effort that removed Mandela and the ANC from
America`s terrorist watch list.
Rev, truly one of the greatest figures of our time.
REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": Probably one of the
greatest figures of all time. I think that you cannot take lightly that
the ANC and Nelson Mandela were considered by terrorists by much of the
Western world, including the right wing here. And for Mandela to emerge as
a prisoner, negotiating privately, at great risk, even at the great risk of
some that were supporters of his, who didn`t know about the negotiations
until later. And for him to take that move of reconciliation and lead that
country into an election, I was an election observer, I remember Barbara
Lee, I don`t think she was in Congress yet. I have a picture of her and
Danny Glover and all of us at the Carlton Hotel.
And it was an amazing time to see people lined up, the first time they
could vote and for miles and miles, for three days, and they didn`t vote on
individuals, they voted on parties. Mandela always talked about him and
others, and he talked about the party. But to go from terrorist to being
the kind of celebrated statesmen, people shouldn`t sweep past that. He
suffered. Many of his colleagues suffered, decades in jail, ostracized.
Never thought they`d see daylight again as free people, but they took that
and transformed their country.
And I was glad to be there to witness it. I was with them when they
went to the U.N. and asked for the removal of sanctions, to be around this
man who had such gravitas, but humility at the same time was an awesome
HAYES: Congresswoman, you were there, if I`m not mistaken, as the
reverend was just mentioning, to see that first democratic election in
South Africa, in which Nelson Mandela was elected the first Democratic
president of that country.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: I was there. And let me say,
Chris, that my heart is very heavy tonight. The people of South Africa,
the people of the world, we`ve lost a great warrior, a great leader.
I also have to say, the lessons we`ve learned from President Mandela
are so, so great. And being there as an election observer was one of the
moments I will always remember, because these elections were very
difficult. When I landed, the first task we had was to monitor the -- and
Reverend Al, you may remember this, the cleanup of a bomb blast, that was
blasted out in front of the ANC headquarters. I think 30 people died.
So these elections, Nelson Mandela did not take lightly. The people
of South Africa did not take lightly. But they waited in line. It was a
true exercise of democracy. We learned a lot from those elections.
And President Mandela is still larger than life. His serenity, his
tough spirit, he reminded me of a freedom fighter who won and who once you
won, he was on the right side of history. Then, in fact, this sense of
peace, this sense of reconciliation, this sense of moving forward to
develop and lead a multi-racial society was the natural next step for him,
if only we could learn that as a people here in our own country.
HAYES: Yes, there`s so many different chapters to this man`s life.
He had so many incarnations, as a young lawyer, as an activist, as a
militant, briefly, when the ANC decided to take up arms struggle, as a
nonviolent activist, as a prisoner, then as the head of state, as an elder
The bomb blast that congressman just talked about, the threat of
violence shot through everything in apartheid South Africa. And it was --
it constantly hung over everything.
SHARPTON: It constantly hung over and it never stopped. I remember
when we landed and the congresswoman is correct, in dealing with the
bombings -- this was right before the elections. People act as though
there was just this great epiphany. It wasn`t. There was resistant from
the Afrikaans all the way through. There were those on the other side,
members of the PAC, that didn`t believe in the reconciliation.
It was only as she used the term, the serenity and the levelheaded
leadership of Nelson Mandela and others that was able to bring balance, and
bring us to a very dangerous period globally, because it was a global
HAYES: There are these rare figures in history who are graced with a
certain kind of moral and spiritual genius. Mandela, Gandhi, King, are the
three, I think, that come most quickly to mind, that are able, almost, it
seems, singlehandedly, Congresswoman Lee, to almost as Moses parted the
water, to bring -- to through their leadership, through their grace, to
bring nonviolence out of the storm clouds of violence and hate and rage.
LEE: And yet they`re the victims of violence, hate, and rage.
And so, the lessons that we learned from them should be very important
as in our daily lives, as we struggle for peace and for justice, spending
27 years in prison, unbelievable. I mean, how many people could come out
of prison not bitter, not angry? How many of us could move forward and
make peace with our enemies? How many of us could move forward and lead a
country out of an era of brutal apartheid into an era of global leadership
and still remain humble, lead with humility, and with gratefulness?
President Mandela, I remember when he came here the last time. Do you
know why he came here to this country? To thank people for their support
in the solidarity movement, in the anti-apartheid movement. He just came
to say thank you.
What a sense of humility and an awesome spirit this man had, and his
spirit is going to live forever.
HAYES: I want to talk about the particularities of this man`s life
and some of the different chapters of it, and most specifically, next, I
want to talk about the nature of the apartheid regime, which is so removed
from us, that we know it was a racist regime, but it was a truly evil
entity. It was a truly outlawed regime. And what his life as a prisoner
and in hiding looked like and how that was brought about, through this
international solidarity moment and how the end of that regime was brought
So, stick around. We`re going to talk about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WIDLAKE: I went to see the man who organized this stay-away, a 42-
year-old African lawyer, Nelson Mandela, the most dynamic leader in South
The police were hunting for him at the time, but African nationalists
had arranged for me to meet him at his hideout. He is still underground.
This is Mandela`s first television interview.
Now, if the Dr. Verwoerd`s government doesn`t give you the kind of
concessions you want some time soon, is there any likelihood of violence?
MANDELA: There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile
for us to continue talking peace and nonviolence against a government whose
reply is on savage attacks on an unarmed and defenseless people, and I
think the time has come for us to consider, in the light of our experiences
in this "stay at home", whether the methods, which we have applied so far
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Nelson Mandela`s first television interview, May
21st, 1961. The interview was conducted just after Mandela went
underground to avoid being arrested for organizing a strike of South
Africa`s black workers.
We`re back with Reverend Al Sharpton and Congressman Barbara Lee.
And joining us now, Danny Schechter, former executive producer of
"South Africa Now." He`s the author of "Madiba: A to Z: The Many Faces of
Danny, you were intimately involved in the resistance movement and the
struggle against apartheid. Can you talk a little bit about the nature of
the apartheid government? Because I think it seems remote, people don`t
quite realize what a comprehensively awful regime this was.
DANNY SCHECHTER, TV PRODUCER: See, a lot of Americans compared South
Africa to the U.S. and thought in terms --
HAYES: Jim Crow.
SCHECHTER: The civil rights movement, you know, where people`s rights
were being violated. In South Africa, there was no constitution and there
were no rights. So, apartheid was really a labor system, a way of
controlling black workers in the benefit -- to the benefit of the people
who owned the mines and the resources of that country.
And so, the whole system regulated people`s lives, almost in every
dimension, where they could live, where they could work, and they couldn`t
violate those rules. They couldn`t be in the city after dark. They
couldn`t, you know, work in certain areas. It was a tightly regulated,
really a fascist, to use a word that we don`t use much anymore. It`s that
kind of a white nationalist regime.
HAYES: I mean, there were -- and we should just say, there were
secret police. During Nelson Mandela`s imprisonment, it was illegal to
have a picture of him, right? These are --
SCHECHTER: It`s all true, Chris.
SHARPTON: It couldn`t put it in a newspaper. They couldn`t put his
face or name in a newspaper.
SCHECHTER: But a lot of us forget that the United States government
and many Western governments supported white South Africa.
HAYES: That`s right.
SCHECHTER: And in fact, Mandela never got off the terrorist list
until 2008. And he was elected in 2004, we --
SHARPTON: Oh, 1994.
SCHECHTER: 1994, rather! So, this is a situation where the United
States was on the wrong side, for many, many years.
And so, what they were up against was a whole world of privilege, that
didn`t want change, because people made so much money under apartheid. It
was very, very profitable. And the exploitation of people there, led to a
system and a status quo that wouldn`t end by itself, unless it pushed, and
the people of the world pus pushed it.
HAYES: We had this -- Congresswoman, you were very active in getting
Mandela removed from that list.
What -- could you talk about the geopolitics that -- I mean, now, it
seems just unthinkable that the U.S. government would side with the
apartheid regime. We know there`s reporting that indicates the CIA
actually helped the South African police nab Mandela the first time he was
How did this come about that the U.S. government saw itself on the
side of this regime?
LEE: I have to tell you, it almost seems unthinkable, but it`s a fact
that that`s what took place. And I remember, many, many days where those
of us -- and, Reverend Al, you may remember this -- involved in the
struggle against apartheid, were not allowed because we knew it was illegal
to meet with members of the ANC. We had to go to the United Nations, or
some of us --
HAYES: Just so that people were clear, it was illegal under U.S. law
to meet with members of the ANC.
LEE: Under U.S. law, to meet with members of the African National
So I had to go many times to Switzerland, just to meet with ANC
leaders and supporters to help develop the solidarity movement, which we
were mounting here in our own country. When I worked for Congressman
Dellums, I have to say, Ron Dellums and Bill Gray, they led the fight for
many, many years for sanctions to put this country on the right side of
I remember Ron introduced the sanctions bill, it must have been 12
times. And he would not waver. He kept going a kept going. Finally, when
President Reagan vetoed it, the Congress overrode and put the United States
on the right side of history.
But still, the ANC and President Mandela were considered terrorists.
And it wasn`t until I was in South Africa a few years ago that I learned of
this and came back and then we started our efforts with Homeland Security
and with the State Department to get him removed from the terrorist list.
And that was for his 90th birthday.
HAYES: This is a really important moment, this Reagan -- the
apartheid, the sanctions bill. This movement starts to grow as Nelson
Mandela in prison becomes the face of this movement. Ronald Reagan
actually vetoes a bill passed by both houses of Congress to impose
sanctions on South Africa and members of his own party vote against him to
override the veto. The veto is actually overwritten.
SHARPTON: The veto is overwritten. And I think that -- you know,
over the next few days, we`re going to hear a lot of people talking. It
was the heroism of people like Harry Belafonte and Randall Robinson and Ron
Dellums and Barbara Lee.
And then you hear that when it was not only popular, but you were
suspect to fight on behalf of the ANC, because they were considered
HAYES: How did that turn around, Danny? How did that public opinion
SCHECHTER: I think change happens from the bottom up, as Reverend Al
knows. It happens when people get involved in legitimate struggle for
democratic change. It`s not dictated to from above.
I think President Mandela would be, and I still call him President
Mandela, would be very uncomfortable with all those people who see him as a
savior, who are trying to make him the lone star hero of the day, when, in
fact, the people in South Africa struggled and sacrificed for years, died,
and were tortured --
HAYES: Millions of people whose names we don`t know, who will not be
on television --
SCHECHTER: And people around the world stood up with him. And that`s
the lesson here of solidarity, of the fact that people can make a
difference, that change can happen, despite power being controlled in a few
HAYES: I want to talk about this movement in more in depth in just a
Reverend Al Sharpton, it`s really great any time you come by.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
HAYES: Thank you very much for joining on this evening.
SHARPTON: All right. Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: You can catch his show, "POLITICS NATION" at 6:00 p.m.
Eastern, weeknights on weeknights on MSNBC. We`re going to talk about the
international solidarity movement and how it helped bring an end to
apartheid and placed Nelson Mandela as a president on the night we mourn
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mandela became almost a cult figure. But in the black
townships of South Africa, Mandela was not a distant pop icon. He was the
spirit behind the street fights, living symbol for township people of a
struggle against evil. And when they buried their dead, the coffins were
draped in the colors of Mandela`s outlawed ANC Party.
For many white South Africans, Mandela was also a symbol of evil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He should have been killed and executed 20 years
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was NBC news report back in February of 1990, just two
days before Mandela`s release from prison after 27 years. We are back with
Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Danny Schechter, who is an author of a new
book on Nelson Mandela.
So, Danny, how did -- Mandela becomes this symbolic figure while in
prison, and then he begins negotiations in secret while in prison with the
apartheid regime. How does he end up getting out? Why does he end up
being released? What turned the corner?
DANNY SCHECHTER, AUTHOR OF MADIBA A TO Z": There were three things
happening. First of all, international pressure, not just of activists,
but of banks who were refusing to rule over loans. Second is --
HAYES: So, the currency -- the currency is plummeting --
SCHECHTER: -- Economic pressure on South Africa, orchestrated in part
by the movement for change. Second, the sanctions that Ron Dellums and
others fought for, for so many years, came to prevail. And obviously,
South Africa could see where this thing was heading.
You know, and I think the third thing, the persistence of the
antiapartheid movement, not just politically, but culturally. The projects
like Sun City, the anti-apartheid anthem, free Nelson Mandela, the big
concerts at Wembley Stadium. By the way, those concerts were not even
shown in the United States because of the American T.V. industry`s refusal
to honor and respect him. So, this was a struggle in our own country as
well, to get the news out about South Africa.
HAYES: The moment congresswoman, when Mandela begins negotiations in
secret, in prison, with the apartheid government to begin talking about the
decriminalization of the African national congress, his ultimate release
and ultimate move to democracy, it is an amazing thing to think about.
This is a man who is jailed, who is dubbed an enemy of the state, who
is having negotiations while being in prison, while being dubbed an enemy
of the state, with the heads of state.
REP. BARBARA LEE, (D) CALIFORNIA CONGRESSWOMAN: But, that shows us --
HAYES: Yes, please.
REP. LEE: Sorry. But, that shows us that we have to keep hope alive,
first of all, and we have to look at President Mandela`s life and recognize
that he was a freedom fighter. He sacrificed so much. He was in prison.
He stood on principle. He was determined to end apartheid and he knew how
to do it.
And, part of that were negotiations. And, he had to negotiate with
the enemy. And, I think we have forgotten about those lessons oftentimes,
and we need to remember that. Also, the people of South Africa had many,
many friends. They had a solidarity movement supporting their efforts
throughout the world.
I remember, again, very vividly, going to Switzerland. We worked in
Vienna, Austria with International U.N. on peace forces, the world peace
council, labor unions, the faith community, artist, entertainers,
grassroots organizations, Reverend Jesse Jackson.
But, you know what? When we got to Europe and when we started
working with all of these organizations, we realized that our country was
isolated. Here you have the Soviet Union, you had, quote, "Enemies of the
United States" supporting President Mandela, supporting the ANC.
REP. LEE: And of course, that put all of the Americans who were
involved in this movement at risk of being baited and that is exactly what
HAYES: Danny, during those years while Mandela was in prison, and
there is this growing international solitary movement, the movement inside
South Africa, what does that look like?
SCHECHTER: You know, it was a movement made up of trade unionists,
community activists, people from all walks of life, across class struggle,
as they say, in South Africa, professionals, students, and church people
like Bishop Tutu.
HAYES: And, was Mandela communicating with them at this point?
SCHECHTER: Well, Mandela -- Mandela -- he was not really able to get
all this information. Despite all that, it was the ANC in exile led by
Oliver Tambo, whose name is forgotten, who really put the decisive pressure
to bear on the apartheid system. This story is told to some degree in a
new movie, "Mandela, A Long Walk To Freedom." And, it is playing in New
York and L.A. now. But, on Christmas day, it goes to 2,000 screens.
HAYES: I am hoping that we --
SCHECHTER: -- in America. And, I was fortunate to be in South Africa
and film the making and the meaning of this movie and this book, because
the producers know that a movie cannot tell the whole story.
HAYES: We are hoping to have a star in the film right here in "All
In" next week. Congresswoman Barbara Lee and journalist Danny Schechter,
thank you both for your time.
SCHECHTER: Thank you.
HAYES: We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELSON MANDELA, PRESIDENT OD SOUTH AFRICA FROM 1994-1999: We have
waited too long for our people. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to
intensify this progress on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a
mistake, which generations to come will not be able to forgive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Nelson Mandela`s first speech after his release from
prison in February 11, 1990. Mandela was a rare global figure, a man who
went from revolutionary to statesman, from enemy of the state to head of
state. We will talk about the next chapter in his remarkable life when we
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANDELA: Never, never, and never again shall it be that this
beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.
And, suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. The sun shall
never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom reign. God
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Nelson Mandela`s inaugural address as South African
President on May 10, 1994. Joining me now on the phone is NBC News Special
Correspondent, Charlayne Hunter-Gault. She has interviewed Nelson Mandela
several times including after his release from prison.
And, Ms. Gault, I have to ask you tonight, the president of South
Africa inherited such an unbelievably complicated set of problems on day
one, of trying to lead and build this new nation, how did Mandela go about
this new role?
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nelson
Mandela never stopped preparing for a non-ratio South Africa, the rainbow
nation he talks about, even when he was in prison toward the -- well,
during his time in prison, he prepared the young men who followed him to
take leadership positions. Once, they left the prison, somehow he had that
optimism that they would, so he managed to insure that they learned about
And, then toward the end of the apartheid era, he launched himself,
negotiations with the minority white regime known was the apartheid regime.
And, at one point, they asked him, if he would foreswear violence, they
would release him and he said, "No, I am not going to do that." So, he
stood to his principles, right until the very end and he single-handedly
negotiated with the white minority regime to end apartheid, while he was
still a prisoner.
HAYES: When he does become president, one of the most notable and
much-imitated initiatives of that presidency is what was known as the truth
and reconciliation committee. This was a way of trying to acknowledge and
air out and reconcile the horrible unspeakable crimes that had been
committed without violence, vengeance, and recrimination. Tell me about
what those were like, how they worked.
HUNTER-GAULT: Well, it was a wonderful idea to -- and it was a part
of his idea of forgiveness and trying to get everybody on the same road to
reconciliation, and so he did indeed say, no matter what kind of heinous
crime you have committed against my people, if you will simply acknowledge
it, we can move on.
But, you know what happened? Only a few people came forward. And,
that was one of the, I think one of the almost tragedies of the new South
Africa that very few whites came forward and admitted the horrendous things
that they had done to Mandela`s people. And yet, truth and reconciliation
commission became a model for countries all over the world. However
imperfect, it was a model.
HAYES: And, it was a new kind of institution to try to deal with the
sorts of nation building that he had to deal with. What was his legacy as
president, if u had to sum it up?
HUNTER-GAULT: I am sorry, could you just repeat that?
HAYES: What was his legacy, as president, if you had to sum it up?
HUNTER-GAULT: I think his legacy is a lot like the legacy of Martin
Luther King that people should be judged by the content of their character
and not the color of their skin. And, that for those who really believed
in a more perfect union, although that is in the American constitution, not
the South Africans, but there are similar words in the constitution, that
we have to continue to strive towards freedom.
HAYES: NBC News special correspondent, the great Charlayne Hunter-
Gault, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
HUNTER-GAULT: You are very much welcome.
HAYES: Joining me now is South Africa`s Ambassador to the United
States, Ebrahim Rasool. Mr. Rasool, I can imagine the heartache that you
are feeling and everyone in South Africa is feeling on this night.
EBRAHIM RASOOL, SOUTH AFRICAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: I
think heartache is an understatement. I think that we really, as a nation,
despite having anticipated that Mr. Mandela must go some time, that we
really remain shocked that it has actually come to pass.
I think that it is a shock filled with an anxiety about life after
Nelson Mandela. And, I believe that every South African, wherever they
stood in the apartheid years and wherever they stood for the last 20 years,
are absolutely united in their grief for Nelson Mandela`s departure.
And, every South African are united, I hope, in the understanding
that we need to emulate him. We need to live up to the values and the
ideals that he had stood for and that we need to find our better selves in
order for us to make us a success of South Africa.
HAYES: Is there love -- love for Nelson Mandela among White South
Africans as well?
RASOOL: I think that there is enormous love. I do not think it
started out that way. I think that when he was a prisoner, there was this
fear of Nelson Mandela and the fact that after incarcerating him for 27
years, how angry must he be? How bitter will he be? How vengeful will he
And, in a very real way, he was able to surprise them. And, slowly
but surely, he began to symbolize for them, their own humanity, the return
of the old humanity. He set them free from their guilt. He set them free
from their inhumanity. And, I believe at the moment, when he dawned the
Springbok Rugby Jersey, when South Africa won the 1995 Rugby world cup, I
think that was probably the moment of the fullest love for Nelson Mandela
from White South Africa.
HAYES: He had to preside over a tremendous transition in a country
that was essentially founding itself anew. Where is South Africa today?
What will it be without him there as this kind of life force for the new
RASOOL: I think that little self-deprivation in South Africa were
enormously high at the time of its transition. I think that the ratio
divide to a great and deep. I think that the inequality with such as to
today and the inequality is racially coded and color coded. And yet, the
only reason that South Africa is able, with great stability and a great
belief in democracy and human rights, we are able to navigate this
difficult waters of material deprivation, is because Nelson Mandela has
been able to teach us patience, to teach us to give the other the benefit
of the doubt.
And, he had been able to reconcile us in a way that has given us the
space to overcome those problems systemically as we go forward. And, so,
I want to really say that legacy of Nelson Mandela, the patience and the
perseverance and not to descend into anarchy and into instability, I think,
persists to this day.
HAYES: Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa`s Ambassador to the United
States. Thank you so much for joining us on this sad night.
RASOOL: Thank you very much.
HAYES: We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: What did you most want to see in the
outside world, all those years that you were in prison?
MANDELA: A host of things. I cannot even count them. The very
question of being outside and being able to do what you like. To see the
changes that have taken place, South Africa, you know, has changed
considerably from the time I went to jail. And, I wanted to see these
BROKAW: Is there anything about prison that you will miss?
MANDELA: Not really. Not really.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Nelson Mandela speaking to NBC`s Tom Brokaw in
February of 1990, not long after he walked out of prison, following 27
years behind bars. Joining me now, Don Gips, former U.S. Ambassador to
South Africa and Maya Wiley, founder and president for the Center For
Social Inclusion. She helped develop and implement the open society
foundation South Africa`s criminal justice initiative under President Thabo
And, Maya, what kind -- there is this period of time between 1999
when Nelson Mandela does this remarkable thing, which is to hand over power
peacefully and there is many examples of resistance leaders who come to be
head of states, we do not do that and Nelson Mandela does do that. What
kind of figure is he in South Africa for that period of life when he is
essentially retired from politics and the state that has to encounter all
the challenges it does?
MAYA WILEY, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT FOR THE CENTER FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION:
Well, he was still an incredibly important figure and we should acknowledge
that in addition to just being willing to hand over power and not become a
president for life or a dictator, as we have seen, unfortunately, in some
other African countries. He actually started turning over the reigns of
leadership to Thabo Mbeki while he was still president.
In other words, he understood that he needed to allow the next level
of leadership to develop, because remember we are talking about folks who
were incredible leaders, but nonetheless had not been allowed to govern.
So, he understood that there had to be a process of governance.
But, nonetheless, he was an incredibly important moral center, and
not just for the country, but also for the continent and for the world.
So, one of the things he starts to do is essentially become the elder
statesmen for a tackling problems that exist on the continent, for taking
on issues like HIV/AIDS, and for thinking about things like child and
HAYES: And in fact, ambassador, he, at a time when AIDS and HIV are
shrouded in a great deal of Thaboo comes forward and says that his son was
stricken with the disease. This is a huge resonance, both in South Africa
and on the continent.
DONALD GIPS, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE SOUTH AFRICA: Yes, and he has led
the -- helped lead fight that has transformed South Africa`s now taking a
leadership role in fighting against HIV/AIDS. I think it is one of the
many examples, the powerful examples he has given all of us. I actually
wear this bangle every day that has his prison number on it.
He was the 466th prisoner in 1964, to remind me to be a better
person. And, I hope we all use this moment to step up and make our -- in
our own way contribute and help build the legacy that he would want us to
have, to build a better unity, to forgive, to help fulfill his last
dream, which was to build a children`s hospital in South Africa. There`s
ways that all of us can contribute and help fulfill his vision for the
HAYES: Maya, there is this one lesson I have been drawing as I have
sort of immersed myself in reading about Nelson Mandela, which is that
things do not happen quickly. I mean there is the 27 years in prison,
just take that. But even the levels of racial inequality on wealth and
income and health and life expectancy, in South Africa, under the ANC,
under this new, you know, this new democratically elected leadership, there
is still huge disparity in that country. And, I say still, you know, it
is only -- it isless than 20 years, but things go slowly. And, confronting
the reality, that was part of what Nelson Mandela had to do, as a
WILEY: Well, one of the things that nelson -- I think you are
absolutely right. One of the things that Nelson Mandela and the ANC made a
decision about is, remember that this transition to a democracy happened
with access to the polls, not access to the purse.
WILEY: And, it was access -- and I think part of the strategy
certainly was get political control and then start to implement what Nelson
Mandela called the RDP, which was really --
HAYES: Economic reforms.
WILEY: -- redevelopment program -- economic reforms. But, very
HAYES: It is very hard to make that happened.
WILEY: Well, what happened -- one of the things we have to
acknowledge is that the apartheid era debt that the ANC inherited was not
forgiven. And, so essentially what started as a pretty broad welfare
program to try to equalize society and create more access to opportunity
was undermined essentially by --
HAYES: Debt and austerity.
WILEY: -- debt.
HAYES: Quickly, ambassador, are you hopeful about South Africa`s
GIPS: Yes, I am. I think South Africa is struggling with some of the
problems that we are struggling with around the world. They have come a
long way. There is still a long way to go. And, I hope we will use this
moment for all South Africans and all people to make the world a better
HAYES: Former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Don Gips, and Maya
Wiley from the Center For Social Inclusion, thank you. That is "All In"
for this evening. The "Rachel Maddow" show starts now. Good evening,
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