Nightly News   |  December 05, 2013

Mandela has ‘transitioned to a different place’

Nelson Mandela has been thought of a super-human person, revered by many – and during recent weeks and months he’s been preparing his nation and the world for his eventual passing. NBC News Special Correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault shares her memories of Nelson Mandela.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> again we go to nbc news special correspondent charlane hunter gault. exactly what you said in first half hour coming true on that suburban street in johannesburg. as rohit said, no one is crying. talk about the paternal hold this man held on the population and the celebration of his life.

>> he's the most beloved man in the world, especially in south africa . even among young people called born frees. they were born after the end of apartheid. many of them like the born frees in america who don't remember much about the civil rights movement , they remember what he stood for. i think today in south africa , even when people wake up in the morning because most people don't know he's transitioned, and i use the word because in south africa , people don't talk about death and dying. they talk about transitioning. it's a happy time . i'm sure they are going to be celebrating his life. i hope they will be teaching, teaching, teaching what nelson mandela stood for. this is a moment to teach. it's a teachable moment as much as it is a moment to reflect and think about what nelson mandela has meant to the world and to these young people who can sing in that neighborhood where they used to not even be able to go without a pass, the black ones . it's that kind of thing nelson mandela did away with. we need to remember those young people could not have gone into that neighborhood at this time of night without a pass before nelson mandela and his people liberated the country. so that's what they are representing now.

>> how far back did your life and knowledge of nelson mandela go?

>> well, i first went to south africa in 1985 . i snuck around to look at the prison where he was being held. but i also talked to people on both sides when it was the darkest time when the white minority was still insisting on supremacy. then i first met mandela four, five days after he got out of prison in his backyard. he was just wonderful. when i told him, trying to get some sympatico between us that i came out of the civil rights movement he said, oh, did you know ms. maya angelou ? we used to read her in prison. i couldn't wait to tell her that she was an inspiration for nelson mandela in prison.

>> part of the arc of an extraordinary life in public. thank you very much for being with us tonight and