Nightly News   |  December 05, 2013

Brian Williams’ 1994 interview with Mandela

On an April morning in 1994 in a hotel room in Johannesburg, Mandela had been elected president the night before, and Brian Williams was the first Western journalist that day to shake his hand and talk with him. NBC’s Brian Williams reports.

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

>>> let's take you back to the scene. this is live early friday morning in suburban johannesburg. the crowd outside nelson mandela 's house. as you heard, no crying but a big celebration of life. we now want to take you back almost 20 years to an april morning in 1994 in a hotel suite in johannesburg. nelson mandela had been elected president the night before and i had the honor of being the first western journalist that day to shake his hand and sit down and talk with him. mandela showed no bitterness or anger. he was famous for that. no thought of revenge. when i asked about his predecess predecessor, the man he defeated, he spoke only of reconciliation and working together.

>> our relations are very goodful. he is one of the south africans i hold in high regard. we have had differences. we have quarrelled. we have said cruel things against each other. but at the end of the day , we are able to shake hands and think of the interests of south africa . he has had an experience which i have not had. and if my organization comes out with a majority in these elections, i will have to depend very much on his support, his experience.

>> what happens when nelson mandela has to use force against elements of south africa 's black community? are you willing and able to take on the political pressures that will take place?

>> i don't expect that government. as well as in governments would rely as a solution. we depend on the people. we depend on persuasion. i don't visualize any period when we'll have to the use force.

>> let's talk about this word expectation. it's become almost an expression. something you hear throughout your country and that's that the blacks expect a new car and a new home the day after an election and the whites expect to lose what they have, the status quo. how do you contain the game of expectations on both sides?

>> the fear and the concern by the whites and other minorities is genuine. and it is our task to address them. but you must understand that in order to deliver the goods in this regard, it cannot be done overnight. it is going to take a year, two years, even as much as five years. the important thing is that after the results have been announced, the process of the country to address the problem was done.

>> that was april of 1994 . mandela dead today at the age of 95. thanks for being with us for our extended broadcast tonight. good night. -- captions by vitac --