Return to Transcripts main page


Mourning Madiba; Missing Israeli Teenagers; Why Are You So Silent about Me?; Imagine a World

Aired June 30, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Graca Machel's first TV interview since losing her husband, Nelson Mandela. What keeps

her going and how she shielded him from South Africa's troubles in his final years.


GRACA MACHEL, WIDOW OF NELSON MANDELA: I decided to save him, to protect him from getting involved and knowing in depth what was going on

because he was such a sensitive person.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

There is not much that unifies our fractious world these days, but the global reverence for one leader, Nelson Mandela, is unlikely to be seen

again in our lifetimes anyway.

Throughout his life in his last days and at the very end, it seemed that everyone from miners deep underground to world leaders at the very

summit of power mourned the passing of this extraordinary figure, who led South Africa from minority rule to true democracy.

Graca Machel was at Nelson Mandela's side in his final and many say happiest years. They married on Mandela's 80th birthday. Graca was 53.

And they had already been widowed once; indeed, she's the only first lady of two nations. Her first husband, Samora Machel, was the first president

of independent Mozambique, another towering figure in the history of African liberation.

For six months after Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in Qunu, his ancestral village, Graca Machel withdrew from the world to mourn her loss.

Now she is reemerging to continue her work and his legacy. And she sat down with us today to talk about her own activism for women and children

and about life with one of history's towering moral figures, the husband that she loved and misses so much.


AMANPOUR: Graca Machel, a very warm welcome to you to this program. Thank you for joining me.

MACHEL: Thank you so much, Christiane, for having me.

AMANPOUR: I want to start by asking you, you have emerged now publicly after six months of mourning for your husband. You have seen the

adoration and the respect of the world throughout Mr. Mandela's life and particularly at the end.

What message do you have for people as you emerge now publicly again?

MACHEL: Christiane, I have to thank you for giving me this opportunity and space to get across to the millions and millions of people

around the world who have showered Madiba with so much love, so much compassion, so much support which I believe is really unprecedented.

During the time of his active live, we knew that the people loved him. But it was beyond my imagination to see when he got sick, people who would

send us messages, people who would write, people who would pray for him. I know that millions of people in the world prayed for him in this country,

in Africa, across the globe.

And naturally by the time he passed on, because people expected it somehow, I couldn't see what was happening. I was consumed with my sense

of loss. But I have been told that for days every single TV station, every single radio would be talking about him, celebrating his life.

And even, I mean, wishing him to finally rest because he had given so much to the world.

And I wanted really to take this opportunity to say thank you.

Thank you.

And thank you so, so much to every single person, all the young men and women from all over the world, who really took the time to think of

him, to celebrate his life and to send him so much love.

AMANPOUR: Ms. Machel, as you've just described, he was a massive figure for the whole world, and the whole world feels that sense of loss.

But for you, it has to be even more personal, obviously, and more poignant.

How are you coping with the absence of this huge figure in your life?

MACHEL: You know, Madiba is that very towering person. He feels every detail of my life. And it's going to take time until I'm able to

articulate the meaning of this huge loss.

I have to tell you that there were times where I would wake up and I wouldn't know what to do. But the fact is that now I'm beginning to engage

with the causes which both of us care about. It is a practice in which slowly I will begin to make sense of it and slowly I will take some steps

now to say, well, I have to carry on. And somehow he would expect me to carry on.

But I think it will take time for me to be able to answer your question. Now it is just very difficult. It's too close. It's too soon.

AMANPOUR: We have our set dressed with beautiful pictures of the two of you, but also of you both with children, which obviously was very close

to your heart. And this is what your work is going to be in the future now.

Tell me about the hospital that you're going to launch, about the causes that you're going to be fighting for right now.

MACHEL: You know, in the sunset of Madiba's life, he was confronted with an experience of a child who died because he did not have the

qualified services which were required to save this boy.

And that has enacted in him a real commitment to say we cannot allow this to continue. And that's when he started to say we have to build a

specialized hospital for children.

But it came as his last wish to say I want to offer a very specialized children's hospital for children.

So this is really the first thing which I'm engaged in in terms of carrying on with the legacy, which is very explicit.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about legacy. I wanted to know from you whether Mr. Mandela knew about the struggles that South Africa was going

through in those last few years, you know, the growing inequality, the -- some of the oppression against women and others, the kinds of things that

you are trying to work towards now.

How well was he, that the dream still needed a huge amount of work in order to make it really come true?

MACHEL: I would say that he was aware of about all these things maybe until about two years back. But I decided to save him, to protect him from

getting involved and knowing in depth what was going on because he was such a sensitive person. And he wouldn't be able to act on those issues.

And I felt, why to keep him with a heavy heart where he is not able to make a difference to change the situation?

So much of it in recent times I just did not allow him to be aware of, not only me, but the family generally speaking.

AMANPOUR: Ms. Machel, people refer to you as a leader as well. And certainly you were once a minister of education in your own home country in

Mozambique. But you were also married to two of the greatest liberation fighters in your continent and in the world, Nelson Mandela and Samora


Tell me what it was like to have that kind of life, to be with those two remarkable people and to be there, side by side, their partner.

MACHEL: You know, Christiane, it is the incidents of life which we never plan for it. It just happens. If you ask me how I ended up being

loved and loving these two extraordinary human beings, I wouldn't be able to explain.

But it did happen. And somehow it gives you a sense of humility, I would say, to feel humble that as part of your journey, you have the

opportunity to share a life with people who are being referred as examples of the best human beings this region has produced.

And you question yourself, who am I?

And what does it mean when people look at me?

Probably they have much more expectations more than what I can deliver.

So my response to you is that really I'm humbled and I would like people to expect to see in me more than that rural girl who happened to

have some responsibilities in my own country and somehow globally, trying to do my best. But the fact that I have shared my life with these two,

it's an incident of life.

But let me tell you something, personally, they were just my husbands. You can call them -- I mean, icon; you can call whatever. But the

relationship I had with them, it was the relationship of husband and wife, they were the head of our families. We shared any detail of life as any

other family.

So I'm taking this opportunity to tell the world that they should look at me as Graca, in my humble way, in my small capacity. And of course I

draw inspirations in those two human beings. But I'm too small. And I'm not going to try to feel that I have a special responsibility to building

their legacy.

AMANPOUR: Graca Machel, I think people will make their judgment about you and you've already entered the hearts and the respect of people all

over the world.

I want to just ask you what you brought to Nelson Mandela when you met him and when you became his partner. He was at, some have described, a

lonely place in his life and we talked to Zelda La Grange, who, as you obviously know very well, just came out with her book. She was your

husband's personal assistant for a long, long time.

And she described you bringing humanity back to the life of this political leader.

Can you describe what you think you gave him?



MACHEL: Christiane, I'm sure you have fallen in love sometime in your life. And you know what it means? That simple connection which you have

with a human being with whom you have a special affection.

And I think what I gave to Madiba is actually to have a family again and to have an opportunity and the joy of having his children,

grandchildren and great-grandchildren in one roof. After coming out of jail and with obligations he had as a head of state, it was only when he

stepped down, where he really began to concentrate on family matters.

And that is the period I was sharing a life with him. So I did definitely give him space and opportunity to enjoy his family, to mentor

them in a way he had not been and he had not had an opportunity to do it before.

But the fact that I think because he was calm, he was not under the pressure of huge responsibility, both of us, we just enjoyed to be

together, spend time together as human beings.

And I think that's what he enjoyed in the sunset of his life.

AMANPOUR: Well, on that note, Graca Machel, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

MACHEL: Thank you so much, Christiane, for having me.


AMANPOUR: And while the Rainbow Nation continues its struggle for freedom and equality for all South Africans, in Egypt, justice is not

merely blind, it is being bound and gagged.

Sarah Attia is also fiercely devoted to her husband, Khaled, a former top aide to Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsy.

When we come back, she'll tell us about her mission to get him freed from prison.

But first, an update on some breaking news about the three Israeli teenagers who went missing earlier this month in the West Bank, and we're

going straight now to our Ben Wedeman, who's near Hebron in the West Bank for the very latest -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christiane. We have it from Israeli security forces that the bodies of the three

Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped on the 12th of June were found in an open field, not far from her, under a pile of rocks at 6:00 pm local time.

That's just 3.5 hours ago. We also understand that it appears that they were killed almost immediately after the kidnapping took place, around

10:30 pm on the 12th of June.

We understand from a statement from the Israeli military that those bodies are at the Abu Kabir forensic laboratory in Tel Aviv, where they're

undergoing positive identification. We also understand that families and supporters of the three families are -- have flocked to the homes of those

three families -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: So, Ben, do we expect to hear from the Israeli officials, the IDF?

And do you expect retaliation?

WEDEMAN: I think retaliation, Christiane, is a given at this point. We understand that there's an emergency meeting of the Israeli security

cabinet and the Israeli officials have made it clear that this is not something that they're going to pass without some sort of punishment upon

those responsible. Now we've seen, for instance, this morning as many as 13 rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel. That is also a growing

source of tension as well. So I think we can just take it for granted at this point that the response is going to be severe.

We have yet to hear from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I spoke to him yesterday afternoon. At the time he told me

that they are absolutely certain that some cell of Hamas was behind this operation. At the time he said they were working upon the assumption that

the three boys were still alive. But obviously this evening, the mood is completely different, just up the road from me I see well over 2 dozen

people from a nearby settlement with large Israeli flags. And the Israeli public was really united around the plight of these three teenagers, is

obviously going to come out now with a real outpouring of not only mourning, but there will be anger as well -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Ben Wedeman, thank you. And of course Ben will be there to continue updates on this important story.

And we'll be back with Sarah Attia, the wife of Khaled al-Qazzaz, who is behind bars in Egypt. That's after a break.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

"Why are you so silent about me?" Khaled al-Qazzaz, the former top foreign policy aide to the deposed Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsy, is

asking that question from behind bars. His letter that was smuggled out and published by "The New York Times" this weekend, criticizes the

international community for remaining silent about the military takeover a year ago this week, which saw off the first democratically elected

government and put him and all the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood behind bars.

Just days before the coup and his arrest, al-Qazzaz admitted the Morsy government had made serious mistakes. But he reminded his compatriots that

they had struggled against military rule for 60 years.


KHALED AL-QAZZAZ, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO MOHAMMED MORSY: We ask everybody basically to stick to the democratic principles and to continue

along this path that all Egyptians have -- the majority of Egyptians have voted for in free democratic choices.


AMANPOUR: So that is what he told us on this program. And today many describe Egypt as the republic of fear with draconian prison terms handed

down to journalists and death sentences handed out like candy, as Human Rights Watch puts it.

So just speaking out like al-Qazzaz and his wife are doing is risky business indeed. She is Sarah Attia, and she joins me now from Toronto,

where she moved for the stability and personal safety and the health of herself and her children.

Sarah, welcome to the program. Let me first ask you, does not your husband fear even more punishment and retribution now that he's speaking

out in this letter that was smuggled out of prison?

SARAH ATTIA, WIFE OF JAILED FORMER MORSY AIDE: Yes. I mean, we all fear right now retaliatory charges, retaliatory measures to be taken on my

husband, Khaled, after this letter that was published in "The New York Times." I've been waking up every single day since it was published just

really worrying about what could happen to him next.

But I think we have all just reached a point where we said enough is enough. We could not just sit down and do nothing anymore. Khaled has

been behind bars in Egypt's worst prisons for almost a year now.

AMANPOUR: And was he, in fact, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Is he?

ATTIA: Well, Khaled was a young guy in Egypt. He was 33 at the time, before -- at the time of the revolution. He was a revolutionist, him and I

went down to the Tahrir Square from day one, from January 25, hoping for a better Egypt. He was there for the 18 days of the revolution. He cheered

as the world cheered when the Mubarak region came down.

And he was just very excited about having a chance to be part of democracy in Egypt. He was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was

one of the many young men and women who joined the Freedom and Justice Party. He joined the campaign team for President Morsy. He was helping

him with his campaign. And they won the first free democratic elections in Egypt.

And after that, he was asked to join on the presidential team and he accepted. And he accepted because he wanted to do -- he wanted to do

something better. He wanted to make a difference, you know. He worked on files of human rights. He worked on files of women empowerment, foreign

affairs. He was working as he described it in his "New York Times" letter. He was working for a better Egypt.

And then on July 3rd, he was arrested.

AMANPOUR: So that is almost a year ago exactly. And he has said in his letter that he decided with the other eight top staff members to

Mohammed Morsy, to stay with Morsy even as the military was coming to arrest President Morsy.

He said he knew he would have to pay a price for deciding to stay at that moment.

Do you think he thought that he would be arrested and put in jail so far with no charges and, as he says, mostly in solitary confinement for the

last 365 days?

ATTIA: Well, that morning, July 3rd of last year, I think no one knew what to expect. So the last text message I received from my husband right

before that announcement of the coup by General al-Sisi was, "Forgive me. I chose to stay with the president."

And I mean that message just left me with a lot of mixed feelings because I had no idea what would happen to him. I think nobody knew the

extent of the military coup. No one in this world, I think, could imagine a military coup in this day and age.

At the same time, I was just very proud of him, because it was the Khaled I knew, the Khaled I loved, the Khaled that I married, that I knew

he would stand by his principles, stand by his values for democracy, for doing the right thing.

So he stood there until the last minute and he was arrested. And I don't think he expected to be in prison, in the most horrible prison in

solitary confinement for a year now.

AMANPOUR: Obviously there has -- so much has happened in Egypt over this past year. But to this day I hear even liberal Egyptians tell me that

they would much prefer a military dictatorship than a religious dictatorship. People were incredible upset about what they viewed as a

Muslim Brotherhood dictatorship.

So I want to ask you, particularly with the terror caused by the rise of ISIS right now, do you think that the very international community that

Khaled is appealing to right now will have any sympathy for him at this time?

ATTIA: I mean, I think all those people that you mentioned that feel that a military rule is better than President Morsy's rule, I hope and I

pray that they are seeing the mistake that they made. As whatever mistakes the Morsy government made, as Khaled said in the interview he had with you,

they were going through, they were trying to clear up 70 years or more of military dictatorship corruption and just really, really horrible time in

Egypt. Putting of that on the side, the human rights violations that my husband is going through right now and the rest of Egypt is going through,

as you descried, you know, death sentences, journalists being sentenced for 7-10 years in prison, these things are just beyond comprehension.

And I think the international community that enjoys freedom, democracy, human rights, should be able to see right through that and to be

able to see that what's happened right now is not the right solution for Egypt and needs to stop.

And I think that's what Khaled was trying to say through his letter, that what's happening right now, the international community has a moral

obligation to come through and say enough is enough and things needs to stop starting with my husband, Khaled. His health is deteriorating very

quickly. He has a problem right now with the nerves of his neck and his left arm is losing mobility.

He spends his night and day in 45 degrees Celsius solitary confinement cell, a little bit larger than a broom closet, doesn't know morning from

night, has no way to tell time. It's just very, very difficult situation. And the international community needs to know, needs to say that this is


AMANPOUR: And again, we say no charges, no trial date set.

What about your children, Sarah? You have four children, the youngest called Tahrir after Tahrir Square. I understand that she doesn't know her

father. What are you telling them? How are they getting through this?

ATTIA: You know, my children had a very hard time dealing with this. The eldest is 8; the little one, Tahrir, that we named after the

revolution, she's just 2. This is very, very difficult to tell them anything. I've spent the last year trying to explain to them why their

father has not been with them. And I still am at a loss of words. Their father has missed their birthdays, their school plays, their soccer games.

He has not been a part of their life. They've seen him in prison. They've visited him. I had to take them to see their father. They've waited in

prison lineups. And they know that their father was doing a good thing. They know. He used to tell them, he took them to Tahrir Square. He used

to tell them that I'm working on to make Egypt a better place. So I'm just really, really worried about them. They're very, very sad right now. And

that's one of the reasons I decided to leave Egypt. My little one, Tahrir, her father did not see her walk. She -- her father didn't see her talk.

She does not know who her father is. And this is just becoming a very difficult situation. but I tell the world I'm not really looking for

sympathy. Me and my children will get through this as Khaled will. but the international community needs to do their moral obligation, as I said,

and stop this human rights violations in Egypt.

AMANPOUR: Sarah Attia, thank you very much indeed for joining us. And let us just read part of what Khaled did in fact sent out from prison

in his letter.

"Today," he says, "my dreams are haunted by this question: my brothers and sisters in humanity, I know why the Egyptian military

government demands my complete silence, but please answer me this: why are you so silent about me?"

And after a break, tough challenges ahead, not just for Egypt but also for the Rainbow Nation. And when we come back, we'll hear more from Graca

Machel on why she thinks there's a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow. Taking a stand on giant shoulders when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where one woman carries on the legacy of a global icon, one wife and many millions of her

country men and women determined to carry the flame that Mandela ignited.

Tonight here's Graca Machel again with the last word.


MACHEL: My hope for this country has never faltered. And I know there is young and brilliant people who are going to take this country

forward and more than before. They are committed, not only to build on the legacy of Madiba.

You know, this country has been privileged to have a crop of leaders of extraordinary stature. You talk of Oliver Tambo. You talk of Walter

Sisulu. You talk of Mbeki senior. You talk of women like Ruth First, Albertina Sisulu and many others. This young generation know and they know

and they feel they have a huge responsibility to stand on their shoulders and to take this dream and make it true.

So I'm not sleepless about South Africa.


AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter

and Facebook. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.