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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Remembering Nelson Mandela

Aired December 5, 2013 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, thanks.

Good evening, everyone. We're devoting this hour to the passing of Nelson Mandela, although frankly, an hour or two, or even 10 hardly seems adequate. Very few people transformed their country. The crowd tonight still outside his house in Johannesburg speak to that.

Sadness, there is a sense of celebration how far Nelson Mandela brought South Africa and brought us all, and how he opened our eyes to better angels, to justice over injustice, compassion in the face of cruelty, and in sometimes unforgiving world, to forgiveness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOB ZUMA, SOUTH AFRICA PRESIDENT: This is the moment of our deepest sorrow. Our nation has lost his greatest son, yet, what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, announcing the death a short time later, President Obama paid a deeply personal tribute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.

Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or our own personal lives. The day he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they are guided by hopes and not by their fears. And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, throughout the hour tonight and in our 10:00 hour tonight we'll talk to people that follow his journey, including some who were privileged enough to share it.

First, Robyn Curnow on the arc of his life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nelson Mandela's struggle for freedom defined his life. He was born in the remote hills of South Africa's Eastern Cape. He was given the name Rolihlahla, which means troublemaker. He was only given the name Nelson by a schoolteacher later on.

After moving to Johannesburg and studying law, Mandela's troublemaking politics began. And as a boxer, he became adept at picking fights and sparring with the Apartheid authorities which had increased its oppression against the black population.

It was then that Mandela made the crucial decision to take up an armed struggle, launching the African National Congress' Armed Wing. He was a militant and a firebrand, defiantly burning his passbook, a dreaded document the Apartheid authorities used to control the movement of South Africa's black population.

NELSON MANDELA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: The Africans require, want, the franchise on the basis of one man one vote. They want political independence.

CURNOW: That simple demand and the methods Mandela took to fight for democracy eventually saw him and others tried for treason and sabotage by the Apartheid government, acts punishable by death. But they got life imprisonment instead, banished to Robben Island, one of the country's most brutal and isolated prisons.

Another political prisoner, Mac Maharaj, remembers the first time he saw Mandela in the prison yard.

MAC MAHARAJ, FORMER POLITICAL PRISONER: I could see from the way he walked and from his conduct that here was a man already stamping his authority on prison regime.

CURNOW: Mandela was released 27 years later.

MANDELA: I have spoken about freedom in my lifetime. Your struggle, your commitment and your discipline has released me to stand before you today.

CURNOW: And his lack of bitterness towards the Apartheid authorities helped him to lead one of the most remarkable political transitions of the 20th century. Mandela, the trained lawyer and life-long rebel outmaneuvered the Apartheid leaders, and he steered South Africa's peaceful transition to democracy. He won a Nobel Peace Prize together with his former enemy, the Apartheid leader, F.W. de Klerk.

MANDELA: And to devote myself to the well-being of the republic and all its people.

CURNOW: And then he became South Africa's first black president in 1994.

MANDELA: So help me God.

MARTIN MEREDITH, MANDELA BIOGRAPHER: What marks Mandela's career as president more than anything else is after five years he stepped down. There have been very few presidents in Africa who've ever given up willingly.

MANDELA: Don't call me. I'll call you.

CURNOW: His retirement years were busy with fundraising for charities close to his heart. He celebrated his 90th birthday with much fanfare. And told CNN in a rare interview that looking back, he wouldn't do anything differently.

MANDELA: I don't regret it because the things that have threatened me were things that pleased my soul.

CURNOW: Now those who loved and respected him look to his legacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if we want to learn from him, learn that life is not made up of straight victories. It's made up of mistakes, zigzags, stumbling, picking yourself up and dusting off the dirt, treating the bruise and walking again forward. And that's what Mandela is.

MANDELA: Good-bye.

CURNOW: Robyn Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Extraordinary man and leader in so many ways. Now, as South Africa enters an extended period of mourning and prepares for a state funeral, quote some proportions global figures are registering their loss from former president Bill Clinton.

He said today, the world lost one of its most important leaders and one of its finest human beings. We'll remember him of a man of uncommon Grace and compassion for abandoning bitterness and embracing adversaries was not just a political strategy a way of life. Clinton concluded by saying our thoughts and prayers go out to Graca and his family and the people of South Africa.

Former president George W. Bush, as President Mandela as one of the great forces for freedom and equality out time. He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world was better off because of his example. He's a good man and will be missed and his contributions will live on forever.

And the former secretary of state, Colin Powell, states it simply, quote "a great man left us today and went to his reward. Nelson Mandela, Madiba led his people to freedom and his example inspired the world. I was privileged to know him."

Robyn Curnow joins us now along with chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Also with us, Richard Stengel, former "Time" managing editor and author of "Mandela's way, lessons of life and courage."

Robyn, we talked a little bit about what happens now in terms of the state -- the funeral. Can you explain, there is a whole timeline now that will play out.

CURNOW: There is, and it's going to take ten days. We understand that the state funeral will be on Saturday or Sunday, if you calculate it, depending on how this plays out. So what are we going to see? We're going to see a state funeral in the hills of his ancestor lands, in the area that he grew up in. He really wanted to be buried in those hills of Kuno (ph).

So, that is going to be next weekend. Until then, in the next few days, Nelson Mandela's body will be taken to a mortuary, a hospital, a military hospital in Pretoria where he'll be enbombed (ph). We know on Monday or Tuesday, there will be a memorial service at the football stadium, (INAUDIBLE) stadium here in Johannesburg, in fact, it is the same stadium where the world cup final was played and that will be like a public memorial service. Many people will be encouraged to come pay their respects. It's unclear if his coffin will be there. I know some world leaders are being encouraged to attend --

COOPER: Obviously, we just lost Robyn.

Rick Stengel, you know, it was interesting, she mentioned that he's going to be returned to the place of his birth, the place of his childhood. It's interesting though, because that's a place he left, really, as a young man, not only to go to school but left behind in many ways. He realized as a young man early on that the white regime used ethnic divisions between black South Africans to divide them and to keep them apart. And it was Mandela who began to think of himself not just as a Hosa (ph) but as an African and that sense of connection was really instrumental in his evolution as a leader.

RICHARD STENGEL, AUTHOR, MANDELA'S WAY: Yes. And Anderson, it's a very good point and people don't realize it because on one hand he was a revolutionary, socialist, maybe communist. On the other hand, he was a great traditionalist. I spent many days with him in outside Kunu in the Trans sky (ph) where he grew up and he felt so attached to the land. He felt so attached to traditional leadership. Even when he was in Robben Island and his comrades in the ANC were saying, we need to get rid of those traditional leaders, we can't make any deals with him. He said no, you don't understand that. The people have reverence for that. It has real meaning for black South Africans.

So yes, he transcended that on the one hand. But he also embraced it on the other. And just as he made out reaches to white South Africans, he made out reaches to those tradition parts of the black African experience, the Zulus, the tribal leaders in his area, the Trans Sky (ph), and that's what made him such a giant, really.

COOPER: And that evolution is fascinating to me, just in reading his auto biography because I mean, he says, he flat out says, he grew up with anger, with hatred towards white people, not toward racism. It was later that he realized that hatred should be towards racism in the system that was in place, not to white people in particular and it wasn't really until later on that he began to see that, kind of, there could be unity among Indians in South Africa and whites and others.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And of course, many of them joined the fight against apartheid. And as he grew up in Kunu, he was an aristocrat. He came from an aristocratic family. And yes, he went through his warrior face, his rebel face, his prisoner face. But his baring, everybody talks about how he stamped his authority wherever he went.

Even in prison, he was the authority. The prison guards came to respect him, and his college roommate. I was going to say, his prison roommate, Mac Maharaj, has said that this is a man who showed by the force of his own dignity how you could force even the enemy, even the adversary to respect you. And that's what Nelson Mandela did.

CURNOW: COOPER: That's the incredible thing. I mean, 27 years in prison, to have your life taken from you for 27 years and not have hate in your heart when you get out. That was -- I remember being there in '92, '93, '94, there were so many Africans who are saying it is going to be a blood bath and there is going to be all this retribution. But, he was -- he did not have that at all. He made outreach to those who have oppressed him. He spoke out Africans.

STENGEL: He did, Anderson. But what I would say and always say about him, is people think of him as a saint but he was a pragmatic hard- headed politician. And what those prison years were with crucible that created the Nelson Mandela that we know now.

But the man has -- and he will be the first to tell you, the man who walked into prison in 1960 was a very different man. We wouldn't recognize him. He was hot headed. He was intemperate. He was impassion.

Prison steeled him and all those hours and hours of interviews that we did, I used to always annoy him because I would say, what was different about the man who walked out of prison than the man who walked in? And one day, finally, you know, he said to me, I came out mature.

AMANPOUR: Very rare. There is a beautiful illustration of that because during the trials or in the early '60s, he was quoted saying to his colleagues, maybe we should reconsider how we're fighting this struggle because it was mostly peaceful in the beginning and then, there was this idea should it become more combative, more violent? And then when we came out of prison, quoted and said to the people, now throw away your guns, your knives, your pan gas and gather them up and throw them into the sea. So he did, you know, go through this amazing transformation.

COOPER: At many times in his life, I mean, I think there are many kinds of transformations.

Donna Brazil is also joining us. Donna, you met him and spent time with him. It can't be overstated. I mean, the courage that it took for him just starting out as a young man and so many others, whites, Indians, black South Africans to oppose this system, this system of a part tide, which at the time was entrenched. It didn't seem like they could overcome it.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he used the power of persuasion. He understood as an activist, as a lawyer that he could find it in the courts but he also had to fight it in the court of public opinion. He knew he had to bring allies to the table. He had to lead not just black people, but he also had to form coalitions with white people, people of conscience. And Nelson Mandela believed that if you want to convince your enemies, you have to work with your enemies. So, he understood that and he brought people together at the table to achieve those goals.

I was struck whenever I had an opportunity to see him. He was always joyful. He was optimistic. He really believed that he could concur the system and when he came to the United States back in 1990, I will never forget in New York City what he said we got to continue to fight. We got to continue to fight. We got to keep the pressure on.

But, he was a man of grace, as well. And in the latter years whenever we heard from Mandela, he was a man who still understood that reconciliation was the bit call of his legacy. And he wanted to see people come together.

COOPER: Christiane, you had a chance this evening to speak F.W. de Klerk, who ended up getting Noble prize along with Nelson Mandela for bringing democracy too in South Africa. I want to play some of that because it was fascinating conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

F.W. DE KLERK, FORMER PRESIDENT, SOUTH AFRICA: There was an immediate, I would say, spark between us and notwithstanding the many spats we had later. I always respected him, and I always liked him as a person.

He impressed me tremendously. He was taller than I expected. He was a ram rot. He looked one in the eye very directly. He was a good listener. I could immediately see that he had an analytical approach to discussions, which I liked very much. This attitude of understanding the concern of (INAUDIBLE) and making efforts to accommodate those concerns.

This he did in a marvelous way with the concerns of my constituency. His biggest legacy was the emphasis on reconciliation. His emphasis on what he used to say, South Africa is there for all its people, black, white and all South Africans should feel at home. He was a great unifier and a very, very special man in this regard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And an incredible that he was able to bring down the system of apartheid which is the Africans are partners (ph). AMANPOUR: Yes, exactly. And with F.W. Klerk, I mean, there wouldn't happen if there wasn't a partner. And Mac Maharaj and other partners of Mandela used to say, we have to get inside the head of the enemy. We have to think like the white man. We have to speak the language. We have to know who they are. And you know, they say that it was a miracle that they managed to pull off the '94 election because and you eluded to it, there was a lot of opposition from the freedom --

COOPER: Right, the Zulu.

AMANPOUR: And the fact she is white, the AWB, and there was a big, big problem that could have exploded into --

COOPER: A lot of people forgot that --

AMANPOUR: Yes/

COOPER: I mean, there was (INAUDIBLE) who ran IFPD and had a freedom party. There were shootouts. There were gunfights. I remember going to a lot of ANC funerals and a lot of IFC funerals throughout the country back in '92 or .93.

AMANPOUR: Very touch and go. Given that election --

COOPER: Even in the month before, two months before I remember a huge gunfight in Johannesburg.

STENGEL: One of the things, Anderson, we walked together on a long walk of freedom which ended at his inauguration. He always wanted to do another book not so much from that period and his presidency, but how close South Africa came to a civil war. He really thought it was on this on tender hooks.

But I have to say, I don't want to -- the smirks, the reputation of Mr. de Klerk and they did formed a partnership and they couldn't have done it without each other. But Mandela in his conversations with me for a long walk to freedom did feel betrayed by de Klerk during that process, during the run up to the election, during the creation of the constitution and that famous scene when they were writing the constitution he chewed out de Klerk.

AMANPOUR: And de Klerk knows that. He said we have our spots. I mean, he knows that. I told her about it.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We are going to be talking about this throughout the hour. And again in our 10:00.

Robyn Curnow, Christiane, Rick Stengel, Donna Brazile, stay with us.

Let us know what you think. first follow me at Twitter @adersoncooper. Tweet about your thoughts on Mandela and his passing and his life and legacy. Use #Ac360.

Coming up, charity and friendship, those were big parts obviously in Nelson Mandela's life. Just ahead, I'll speak with Richard Branson, he said Mandela helped him started humanitarian group that became friends. I'll share his memories next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is Mr. Mandela, Mr. Nelson Mandela, a freeman taking his first steps into a new South Africa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Extraordinary moment, Nelson Mandela, a free man in 1990 after 27 years in captivity. Four years later, he would become the first black president in South Africa stepping down after just five years. Mandela's retirement was a busy one that working for human rights, world peace, the fight against AIDS and charities including one he helped Richard Branson start. They got to know each other well. Richard Branson joins me.

Sir Richard, you knew Nelson Mandela over the course of many years. You worked on nonprofits, a humanitarian group together. His sense of compassion to me is something I always found extraordinary, his ability to not have hate in his heart for those who oppressed not on him but generations of black South Africans.

SIR RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, THE ELDERS: It was absolutely remarkable. And I think something that other nations should learn by. I mean, 27 years in prison, not just himself, but hundreds of black activists, many people like Steven B. Comb, you know, killed horribly. And he enact vision to decide to forgive those people. And they set up truth and reconciliation courts where those people have to come to apologize to the relatives of those people that they might have committed dreadful crimes to. And in the process, they managed to enable Africa, South Africa in particular to heal his wounds, they avoided a civil war. And South Africa is now one of the great nations in this world. And if it hadn't been for that act of forgiveness, and I don't think that would have been possible.

COOPER: I worked there a lot in '92, '93, '94. I never actually talked to him directly. I was in the room and he had this aura about him. You spent time with him. You hanged out with him. What was he like one on one?

BRANSON: He was remarkable. He had a wicked sense of humor, a twinkle in his eye, you know. He would burst into singing and dancing. Yet, and yet at the same time, you know, there was the serious side to him. I mean, you know, he set up a wonderful organization called the Elders and in order for his legacy to live on. He took the time and trouble appointing six wonderful men and women he felt had great global moral authority, and he asked them, you know, to continue his legacy after he had gone.

And, you know, with the Elders, he wants to see them go out and try to resolve conflicts and they have already been doing that in his name over the last three or four years.

COOPER: And that's something that you had approached him about early on, this idea of the elders, this global humanitarian group. In terms of his legacy, I mean, obviously, it is in the modern state of South Africa. And again, I just keep coming back to his willingness not to meet force with hatred, his willingness, you know, even to really embrace the Afrikaners who had for generations oppressed the black South Africans and a number of different groups in South Africa. What do you think it was that allowed him to do that?

BRANSON: I think it was the time he had in prison to think, to read and to realize that, you know, to be a great statesmen and, you know, maybe the greatest statesmen on earth, you had to do extraordinary things. You had to take extraordinary risks and he learned the importance of forgiveness, and as a result, you know, the most extreme right-wing Africans, you know, were brought into the fold and he created one nation, and one, you know, one wonderful nation of black people, white people, gray people, brown people, all sorts of people, you know, just being prior to the Africans and South Africans.

COOPER: And creating a constitution the likes of which Africa has certainly never seen, really the world has never seen.

Sir Richard Branson, appreciate you talking this evening. Thank you.

Joining me once again, Robyn Curnow in Johannesburg, here in New York, chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour and former "Time" magazine managing editor and Mandela's biographer, Richard Stengel and CNN political commentator, Donna Brazile, also joins us. And also joining us now is Harvard law professor, Charles Ogletree who is the leading voice in the American anti-apartheid movement.

Professor Ogletree, we haven't heard from you. What are your thoughts tonight, just in terms of when you heard of the passing of Nelson Mandela? I mean, what for you is the most interesting part of his remarkable career?

CHARLES OGLETREE, PROFESSOR OF LAW, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, I have to tell you, Anderson, when I first heard about it this afternoon, it was a combination of tears and pain because I expected him to live forever, even though it was clear he was sick and about to die. I met him several times when we go to South Africa. I met him when he came here to Boston and we honored him on several occasions. He was given an honorary degree at Harvard law school.

Unlike most people, I think there are four people in the history of Harvard history who got this honorary degree, June 1998, I remember the day like yesterday. And he was so proud to say that he was proud to receive it as the first African, that made a big difference to the crowd there in 1998.

So I've written an article about him, about the public defender system he helped set up in the 1990s. And I have to say that this was a tragic loss but one that we all had to be prepared before. And I said before, before he was sick that we have to figure out a way to honor his legacy every single year, Anderson, not here but a world-wide hero, somebody who meant a lot to a lot of people and somebody who went through a lot of persecution but we know he's the reason South Africa was free. COOPER: And Rick, it's interesting, I mean, you did a lot of interviews with him over the years and knew him well. Nelson was not his given name. His birth name. He was actually given that name his first day of school as was very common under the British education system there. His real name is Rola.

STENGEL: (INAUDIBLE). I mean, I can't speak better than you. He went to a Methodist school and everyone was given English names. His real names was (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Which means --

STENGEL: Which means it's the branch of a tree -- shaking the branch of a tree but the colloquial meaning is troublemaker.

COOPER: Which I love that.

STENGEL: It's so --

COOPER: That was his birth name, trouble maker. That was extraordinary.

STENGEL: When I started working with him, I had never, ever heard anyone call him Nelson. At the same time, he wasn't president yet. I heard people use his clan name Modiba, which then caught on because it's a term of respect. It shows his background and it's paternal and just stuck. So that's -- everybody called him Modiba.

COOPER: I mean, the courage it took in the 50s, the '60s, this regime that attempted to have absolute control. It's hard I think for anybody who didn't live through those times to understand what this took to oppose and ultimately over throw this regime.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I didn't live it either. The list of not indignities, but the appalling facts of separate life were just -- you cannot believe this happened. I mean, you saw it all, whites and blacks --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tremendous, tremendous courage because it was such a --

COOPER: Boss cap which is like boss ship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, so every -- I mean, even you still see it today, but every African person in South Africa would call a white person boss and move to the side of the street or off the sidewalk when people came around but the separated families, the separated people over generations who didn't get educated, didn't see their children, wives.

COOPER: Robyn Curnow in Johannesburg, as president, did his -- sort of did the shine, the lustre come off Nelson Mandela a bit as the reality of ruling, the difficulties the country faced, as president what was the perception of him within South Africa?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think he would have even said so himself that he wasn't the greatest administrator, a lot of the day to day running of the country during his presidency was done by his deputy. What Nelson Mandela's real role was, the magic, he was a symbol and he understood that. He understood he had to lead this country and lead by example and I think those very small acts of kindness, the fact he often stopped and shook people's hands if he went to dinner for an important person, he found the cook or housekeeper and made and looked at them.

There is one wonderful story he went to the doctor for dinner and he went to the kitchen and said to the housekeeper in his flirty Mandela way, where have you been all my life? I've been waiting for you. In this wonderful flirty thing and she's burst into tears. No one expected him to go into the kitchen and have that familiarity that he had with everybody.

And so much of it was political, the sense of charisma, this connection he tried to forge individually, literally with every South African. It was a very shrewd move. He understood the symbolism of it. When you were in his presence you felt that natural charisma. He held himself straight up. He had a regal baring and he was often quite tactile.

I know at one point, I kind of freaked out because he sort of grabbed me around the waist and hugged in. He was quite like that. He felt he needed to touch everybody and look everybody in the eye and I think when his presidency was over, people missed that. They missed that sense that he was there as this sort of walking image, this walking symbol of themselves, this mirror that he tried to reflect back into South Africa.

COOPER: Everyone, if you can, stay with us, 57 years ago Nelson Mandela was arrested on charges of high treason. By 1994 he was being sworn in as the first president. More of that remarkable journey next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RORY STEYN, MANDELA'S FORMER BODYGUARD: When he walked out of that tunnel wearing number six jersey, that white predominantly crowd started chanting his name. Watch the footage. As I say, I get goose bumps. I could not believe it. How could this ever happen? And yet, he just understood fundamentally, understood that kind of symbolic gesture of putting on the jersey and identifying with a logo, a symbol would go so much further than any speech or policy or political agenda ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Nelson Mandela and the team were the embodiment of apartheid. They were a symbol of racial reconciliation and shared pride in the new South Africa. A white child of the old South Africa tweets this, condolences to all on the passing of our beloved father of the South African nation, Nelson Mandela. We loved you, rest in peace. That sentiment is a far, far cry how Mandela was viewed when he first stepped on to the political stage. More on that now from Robyn Curnow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW (voice-over): It was here in Johannesburg that Nelson Mandela's political consciousness was awakened. An amateur boxer and trainee lawyer as well as the leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress or ANC, the young Mandela made a crucial decision to fight the increasingly oppressive apartheid state with force. He was prepared for the worst even when he and others were tried for treason and sabotage, acts punishable by death.

MANDELA: I'm prepared to die.

CURNOW: Those words read from this original transcript from the year 1964 still resonate says one of his legal team from that case, George Bizos.

GEORGE BIZOS, LAWYER IN THE RIVONIA TRIAL: If needs be, it's an ideal for which I'm prepared to die. They are words which I think going to live forever.

CURNOW: They were the last words Nelson Mandela going to utter in public for 27 years. Mandela got life imprisonment and was sent to Robben Island. While in prison, Mandela continued to work towards freedom, which seemed so far away because South Africa's townships were burning, state of emergency was in effect and the apartheid regime never seemed stronger, but he took a chance and started to secretly negotiate with the apartheid government and other former political prisoner.

AHMED KATHRADA, FORMER POLITICAL PRISONER: Because he said it on occasion that there comes a time when a leader has to lead.

CURNOW: An apartheid minister at the time and the eventual president, F.W. De Klerk remembers his first encounter with the man he considered a terrorist.

F.W. DE KLERK, FORMER STATE PRESIDENT: My very first meeting with him, I didn't know what to expect and there he was standing straight up, taller than I expected, being courteous, being of usually a man of integrity.

CURNOW: In his own act of political bravery, De Klerk released Mandela in 1990. In the next four years, Mandela spearheaded the negotiations for new constitution and democracy and before South Africans voted in the first democratic election, that Mandela and ANC renounced violence and their arm struggle. It had been a long war.

MANDELA: So help me God.

KLERK: On the day he was inducted as president, he stood there on the terraces of the Union Buildings in Pretoria and he took my hand and he took it up and he put his arm around me and we showed a unity, which I think resounded throughout South Africa and across the world.

MANDELA: I will count myself as a man of agent in our society. CURNOW: Mandela's presidency was marked by reconciliation, but Mandela gave up much more than he acknowledged. He admitted he would have liked to spent more time with his family in a rare interview with CNN on his 90th birthday.

(on camera): Is there anything you wish you had done differently? I spoke to your wife and grandchildren and they suggested that perhaps you would have liked to spend more time with your family. Is that something when you look back?

MANDELA: I'm sure many people, that is their wish and I also have that wish, that I spend more time with my family.

CURNOW: So is that a regret of yours?

MANDELA: I don't regret it because the things that I did were things that pleased my soul, so I don't regret it.

CURNOW (voice-over): A man who went looking back over his life, acknowledged that sacrificing his family life was for the greater good.

MANDELA: Thank you, thank you. My blessings.

CURNOW: Robyn Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Robyn joins me again from outside Mandela's home in Johannesburg. Christiane Amanpour is here as well, and Rick Stingel, author of "Mandela's Way, Lessons on life, love and courage," and CNN political commentator, Donna Brazile, and also Harvard law professor, Charles Ogletree and Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, David Turnley who documented the fight to end apartheid, his book "Mandela Struggle and Triumph" joins us as well.

David, you've been friends with and taken pictures of the Mandela family for nearly 30 years. Can you give us insight into their relationship and your thoughts on his passing?

DAVID TURNLEY, AUTHOR, "MANDELA: STRUGGLE AND TRIUMPH": Goodness, thank you, Anderson. First of all, their relationship, I think that to understand the sacrifice that Madiba made going to prison which is so difficult. We can put words to it. We can start to try to fathom 27 years but how does anyone ever really know what that means? When you met Winnie Mandela and I met her in the early '80s and you encountered the incredible beauty and presence and eloquence of this woman.

You understood the sacrifice that this man made when he left this woman through his commitment and I think their mutual commitment actually to struggle against the domination of apartheid. I think that Madiba would have said at any given moment until his passing that in fact Winnie and Nelson were both Mandelas.

COOPER: David, as you said, you were working there in the early '80s, photographing, which was dangerous thing to be doing. Did you know that in the end they would succeed? Did you believe in the end they would succeed?

TURNLEY: Yes, I did. From the minute I arrived in South Africa in '85, it was really interesting coming from our country with racial division and our legacy and history of not so dissimilar in a certain way, but not without the legislative system but coming from Detroit, it was so interesting to arrive in South Africa, what one found was in fact a country in which people of color in the majority were still effectively on their land for the most part, their culture intact but under the shackles of apartheid.

And you felt this minority, equally that would arrive 300 years ago, when these three ships coming from Holland were on their way to look for tea and they got down in front of the Cape of Good Hope and looked up and saw table mountain, I mean, I have to admit I can certainly understand why they got off that boat and never left. It's so unbelievably beautiful and they also love this country.

You could feel that -- so what you felt was in fact, two groups of people with a profound love of this country that were living both in effectively as victims of this absolutely system that humanity never known the likes of. So -- but nevertheless, to your question, Anderson, I always had the sense it was a question of time.

And I think also the sense that Nelson Mandela's aspirations, his vision of a non-racist, non-sexist country, which certainly has a compatible legacy in our country's Dr. King and civil rights movement here, which it's interesting there was a symbiosis between the civil rights movement and South African movement, they took a tremendous amount of inspiration from Dr. King in the civil rights movement in the United States, if you think about 1963, he went to prison in 1964. It worked in both directions.

COOPER: There is no doubt which gets me to the next question for Professor Ogletree, in terms of the impact that the anti-apartheid movement around the world had and here in the United States had on the end of apartheid, how significant was it?

CHARLES OGLETREE, PROFESSOR OF LAW, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It was very significant. Remember, Anderson, this was during the Reagan administration and the president, Ronald Reagan, opposed what we were doing and in fact have vetoed efforts to talk about the issue of opening up the system in South Africa to end apartheid. But we had marches day after day, thousands of people got arrested in Washington, D.C. and I got a group of lawyers together to represent them for nothing.

They were released and not charged with an offense. It was a national issue, black, white, male, female, people on the left, right, everybody was involved. The only thing I regret is that there are young people who never knew Nelson Mandela was from South Africa. They didn't realize it was a majority of Africans there and didn't realize how great a patriot he was, not the question about terrorist but patriot. Someone loving this country and did everything he could to make South Africa the country he was and I was there when they were talking about developing a constitution and they wanted to learn what the United States had put together but they had a greater vision of what the constitution has.

Labor rights, individual rights, all these different rights, which are very important, and I think that's the legacy of Nelson Mandela, what he did to make South Africa a wonderful and a great country.

COOPER: It is an extraordinary constitution when you actually look at the wording of it and what there is in there. We're going to take a quick break. We'll have more on the life and legacy of Mandela when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight the flags of the White House are at half staff in honor of Mandela's legacy, a legacy of forgiveness, reconciliation and leadership. Throughout his life, Mandela earned the respect of countless other leaders including U.S. presidents past and present. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: have just hung up talking to Nelson Mandela. I reached him, I believe, it was at the home of Bishop Tutu and I told him that all Americans were delighted after these many years in jail that he is released, that we were rejoicing at his release. I invited him to the White House and he told me he wanted to consult some of his colleagues, but that he expected he would be able to accept my invitation.

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: His step may be a bit slower now, but his voice still sores with conviction and vision, his eyes still burn with spirit and resolve, and his work still inspires the world.

FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I mean, sometimes there are leaders who come and go. He -- his legacy will last for a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was quite tough on you and criticized you publicly about the Iraq war.

BUSH: He wasn't the only guy. I don't look at him differently because he didn't agree with me on an issue.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; For freedom, Madiba's moral courage, this country's historic transition to a free and democratic nation has been a personal inspiration to me. It has been an inspiration to the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We're back now with Donna Brazile. It is fascinating to see so many presidents, present and past speaking so highly of him, Donna. DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And vice presidents. I remember when Al Gore came back from South Africa, how just enthusiastic he was to have met Nelson Mandela, Al Gore like so many other senators fought and, of course, pushed for legislation to end apartheid and when I was in South Africa back in 1994 before election and Nelson Mandela believed that democracy was the only way to solve problems in the world and especially in South Africa.

And he wanted for the first multi-racial election to have, you know, 100 percent precipitation. He wanted people to be encouraged. There was a lot of uncertainty. He kept pressing us to train people, train everyone, train them like you do down in the south and up north and Bill Lynch that we lost, he was the deputy mayor of New York City who was instrumental in bringing Nelson Mandela here in the 1990s, Bill Lynch led practically all of us who really went out of our way to train people to get them ready for that election.

COOPER: I'll never forget being there on election day, there was a blazing sun and standing in line with people that never voted in their entire lives, people in their 70s and 80s standing in the hot sun for hours and hours in this long line just to cast a vote for the first time in their lives. Donna, thanks for being with us. We'll be right back. More with our panel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Just about 9:00 p.m. Eastern, remembering Nelson Mandela. More tributes coming in tonight from the first lady, "We will forever draw strength and inspiration from Nelson Mandela's extraordinary example of moral courage, kindness and humility."

From Hillary Clinton, "Nelson Mandela was a champion for justice and human dignity with unmatched grace. I'll remember as Madiba, truly an incomparable soul." Some quick final thoughts now from Christiane Amanpour, Rick Stengel and Professor Charles Ogletree.

Professor, let's start off with you. All right, we'll start with Christiane, he's not there. Your thought?

AMANPOUR: We said so much of what he's accomplished. Seeing these pictures, you get the sense of a man who enjoyed when he got into power. He smiled. He laughed. He inspired people by his body language where so many leaders, it was such a burden and so difficult. He looked like he embraced it and enjoyed it and I think that translated to the people.

COOPER: Rick, you spent a lot of time with him.

STENGEL: He was a true happy warrior, as you were saying. But I just -- I wanted to just look back at couple of their -- how much time do we have?

ANDERSON: I don't know, a minute or so?

STENGEL: OK. No bitterness in his heart. Everybody's -- that's the conventional wisdom. He had great bitterness in his heart ... ANDERSON: He did.

STENGEL: ... when he came out of prison. He resented so many things. He resented that his family was taken away from him. But he was a great politician and he knew that he could never show it. He could never express it, he could never show it, he had to hide it and in fact, he had to embrace his enemy. That's what made him great. Not that he didn't feel it, but that he felt it and he overcame it.

ANDERSON: That's really fascinating. It's hard to overstate that the impact that Nelson Mandela made on the world, not many people come close certainly to what he achieved. He'll be remembered for the freedom he brought to South Africa.

Earlier this year, he talked about the power of words to change the world. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANDELA: It is not by my custom to use words unlikely. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact upon the way people live and die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And he spoke in South Africa earlier this year but it's from a few years ago. That does it for our special edition, CNN special coverage of the death of Nelson Mandela, we'll continue throughout the night. We'll be back one hour from now, live at 10:00 PM Eastern. Up next CNN documentary, "Nelson Remembered."