tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 5, 2013 7:00pm-7:31pm EST
he was a champion of freedom who changed the world. >> in the name of the heroic father of our people. tonight the world reacts os the death of nelson mandela at the age of 95. >> he is now at peace. >> on our broadcast tonight, remembering the man and his leg si. "nightly news" beginnow. >> announcer: the death of nelson mandela from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. for millions who lived him and the modern country he formed and
in the modern country he formed and the light of the world, he was the hope around the world, nelson mandela died at the age of 95. while this news was inevitable, it has still come as a shock to the world a realization a be don of forgiveness is gone. a nobel prisoner turned nobel laurea laureate, for so many years, a giver of peace. late this afternoon after visible activity and worry outside the mandela home, south african president went on live television and broke the news to his country. >> fellow south african, our beloved nelson mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation has died. >> the news was followed by
president obama at the white house. >> we've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings any of us will share time with on this earth. he no longer belongs to us. he belongs to the ages. >> part of ap emotional appearance late today by president obama in the white house briefing room. nbc news correspondent based in south africa was outside the mandela home when the news broke and remains there tonight and ro hip, all night tonight we have seen video of people gathering to sing and celebrate the life of nelson mandela, while it's important to remember a lot of south africans are still going to wake up to the sad news in the morning. >> reporter: that's right, brian. it is in credcredibly early in morning here, almost 2:00 o'clock and many south africans haven't heard the news yet. a few hundred of those who have
came down here to nelson mandela's home they gathered around singing songs of the anti-apartheid struggle, singing it in all 12 language,multi cultural multi racial musical celebration of the rainbow nation. one of the fascinating observations here is how young people are, like south africa itself, this crowd is young, the people here have no memory of apartheid but such is the legacy of nelson mandela, he means almost as much to the youngsters standing around me as people who lived through the darkest years of apartheid. earlier this evening, four hours ago, president zuma broke the news to the nation and broke the hearts of millions of south africans. although this news was entirely predictable, a 95-year-old man with a serious respiratory illness, who had been in
hospital, and receiving high intensive care at home for six months, it was predictable he would at some point pass away. nev nevertheless, it was still incredibly painful, perhaps the most mournful, the most soulful day in the history of modern south africa, the father of the nation, the man who gave black south africans the vote, freedom, dignity, liberty and freedom and gave white south africans a secure and relatively safe future in modern south africa where he's being mourned today, nelson mandela dead, brian, at the age of 95. >> in suburban johannesburg tonight, thank you. nbc news special correspondent ch charlene hunter golf has lived for many years in south africa, as a citizen among those best able to talk about his life and legacy. while it's been just hours since the news, ro is right.
it's been a long time. what are your thoughts? >> in south africa, people rarely use newords death or dying, talk about transitioning. i think that spirit you're hearing outside nelson mandela's home is part of that notion that nelson mandela has transitioned to a different place. we almost think of him as a super human person. i've thought in those months when we were there in south africa, when he first went to the hospital over these weeks and months and through his wisdom he's been preparing the nation an his this world for this. and one of the things that will happen in the immediate af ma aftermath of his passing will be south africa coming together as nelson mandela wanted him to come together. i suspect those not outside
singing tonight will hear the news but sad for a moment but it will bring the nation together sort of like the soccer matches did when the country hosted the world soccer cup a few years ago. i guess the one hope one would have is these remembrances of mandela will make a difference in his country today. he so much wanted his country to be united. >> we will join you in hoping for exactly that as dawn breaks across south africa, from washington. let's take a moment here and look back at this life in the public realm at least, remember, started as a fighter against apartheid, then as a prisoner of the system and next as president. nelson mandela lived a truly remarkable life. deny any perso human rights is to >> to challenge their very
humanity. [ applause ] >> nelson mandela called his life a long walk to freedom, a struggle to end south africa's racist system of apartheid. as a young lawyer and activist he initially activated peaceful resistance until the 1960 sharpville massacre. >> police fired point-blank into the crowd. >> south african police killed scores of anti-apartheid demonstrators. for nelson mandela, it was a turning point. >> there are people feel it is useless for us to continue talking peace and non-violence against the government whose reply is only savage attacks on an unarmed and defenseless people. >> mandela's african national congress was nned. he became an outlaw but he refused to back down. arrested in 1962, mandela was charged with sabotage and with attempting to violently overthrow the government. he was convicted and sentenced
to life in prison. for years, for decade, the struggle for justice in south africa continued, with the imprisoned nelson mandela as its symbol. at times he was forced to break rocks in the hot sun for hours at a time. the government offered mandela freedom if he would renounce violence. he refused. >> today marks the 25th year behind bars for nelson mandela. >> reporter: south africa became an international outcast facing sanctions and boycotts and growing political pressure. >> nelson mandela should be released to participate in the country's political process. ♪ >> reporter: rock concerts for the cause were broadcast around the world. ♪ in 1989, south africa's hard
line president p.w.bota resigned replaced by f.w. dick clark who slowly began to dismantle apartheid. the ban was lifted and on february 1990, nelson mandela walked to freedom. >> i ask you all in the name -- >> 27 years in prison had not weakened mandela's resolve. >> it will go on as long as the government has not responded to us. >> reporter: but he also urged restraint, even forgiveness, telling blacks to quote throw their guns into the sea and reassuring anxious whites. >> whites are citizens and we want them to feel safe. >> mandela's courage and sacrifice were recognized around the world. in america, he was welcomed as a
hero. mandela and declerc were awarded the nobel peace prize in 1993. the following year, in the first mixed race elections in south africa's history, nelson mandela was elected president. >> today is a day like no other before us. >> we were the first to interview him on that first morning as president-elect. mandela tempered south africa's joy when he said healing his country would take time. >> it cannot be done overnight. it will take a year, two years, even as much as five years. [ applause [ applause ] >> from enemy of the state to head of state, nelson mandela's walk to freedom became a journey shared by his entire nation. >> i have never been so excited and hopeful in my life in south africa as i am now.
>> years later, nelson mandela paid a return visit to his former prison cell, this time accompanied by president bill clinton, who later presented him with the congressional gold medal. mandela stepped down as president in 1999, but he lived long enough to see the united states elect its own first black president. and in 2011 he was paid a visit in south africa by first lady, michelle obama, who brought along first daughters, malia and sasha. >> admired aroun world and revered at home, nelson mandela's south africa embraced a multi racial future and re-enteredhe family of nations. he leaves a legacy of freedom and proof that one life can make a difference. >> we are one country. we are one people. we are happy to be joined here in the studio tonight by nelson mandela's biographer. a veteran journalist, former
editor of "time" magazine during his time chronicling the life of nelson mandela for one book actually lived with him, wrote about "mandela's way." in fact, mandela is godfather to your oldest son, rick. my favorite quote, to start off this conversation, you and i have known this day was coming for 20 years or more, the last pure hero on the planet. >> brian, he is indeed the last pure hero. if he were here to talk to us, he would say that he wasn't a hero in the conventional sense, he wasn't a saint, wasn't a philosopher. he was a pragmatic politician. there's a lesson for all of us in that he had one great goal, bringing freedom to his freedom. whatever way took him there, he would use it. that's why he was ultimately a pragmatist and politician. >> in that first interview back in '94, we saw pictures of him and i sat down with him and
said, what's your goal for the peop people? i was stunned. he said regular trash pick up. that's the local politician in him. >> i remember fondly when we were out walking and he would meet a young boy, the question he would ask him, what did you have for breakfast today? he wanted to make sure there was prosperity and freedom for his people and that freedom would bring about prosperity. he was a practical politician. >> talk about it. it was years of your life. you always said he made you walk a little taller. >> i had to have nelson mandela in my head, which is a wonderful thing for anybody and unfortunately he isn't quite there as prominently as he once was, but to think about things the way he did, with moderation, with caution, with understanding. that's what made him a great leader that he listened to people. he didn't -- he wasn't doctrineaire and he did whavert what might have been the
greatest civil war in the 20th century. >> go back in public life. he doesn't compare to a roosevelt or fdr or woodrow nelson, where does he rank among public figures? >> the person i liken him to is george washington. he was the father of this country and he was the person who like george washington stepped down willingly. african leaders don't do that. they often leave office horizontally. he stepped down after one term and they'd he didn't want to be an oxygen arian president. that set the path for africa that had never been there before. a man of the ages. >> finally, as we watch this period of mourning, what should we know about modern south africa, such a young country but they had such a relationship with him, often calling him father and saying about old age it's time for him to rest. >> people don't realize it's a very young country and the majority of people never experienced nelson mandela as a
leader. the legacy of bringing him together, bridging black-and-white and bringing old and new is together that should live on for them. it's a very hopeful time for them and should be and it is the rainbow nation, as he called it. >> rick stengel, the biographer of nelson mandela, glad to have you here as we remember this towering life. >> thank you. we'll take a break and have much more on the passing of nelson mandela and tom brokaw covered nelson mandela's long fight for freedom will be with us with his thoughts and later some dangerous move including a dangerous weather system moving across our country as the news marches on. my asthma's under control. i get out a lot... except when it's too cold. like the last three weekends. asthma doesn't affect my job... you missed the meeting again last week! it doesn't affect my family. your coughing woke me up again. i wish you'd take me to the park. i don't use my rescue inhaler a lot...
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remembrance of nelson mandela after the word started to spread today of his death at the age of 95. we're joined in the studio by tom brokaw. when you look at the public life and legacy of nelson mandela, you're fortunate enough so much of it happened on your watch. i was thinking of our trip in '94, to cover his eventual election as president but mostly american viewers were glued to the set covering the 1990 long walk to freedom. >> i got a call from the south africa saying you better come here right away. i got on the airplane, get there. it looked like they would release him. he wasn't seen in 27 years. he was released. we didn't know what he would look like. we had that one black and white grainy photograph. this is me in the backyard with him. it turns out he looked like heed a been on a three day holiday somewhere.
a lot of people in prison with him, this is very important said they used those years to talk with each other about their philosophy, about their strategy once they did get out. he was absolutely prepared now to take his place not only on government but the world stage. we often talk about leaders have to wait the history of judgment. in his case, he's a great man. he has changed not only his country but the perception of race and leadership and the philosophy of pulling together people who have been in conflict with each other more than 100 years, brian. >> i know people who use the expression in a flip manner, you'll ask them how they're doing. they say, well, it sure beats breaking rocks in the hot sun. think about it for 18 years, part of his 27-year incarceration, he broke rocks in the hot sun. >> as a practical matter, never regained his vision fully. >> one of the most poignant stories i heard, he was called from his cell by the warden. they all watched him go to the warden's office and come back,
not speak to them, go into his cell and lie down and not say anything for the next 12 hours. his son had been killed that day. can you imagine? there was nothing he could do, no communication he could have with him. he went about the business of staying live and surviving and staying in touch with his colleagues. when he came out, all he had to do was raise his hand and he could have started a race war. he identididn't do that. as rick stengel said he served one term and said it's time for others come on. he was gregarious and not here long after there were difficu difficulties and said everybody needs to calm down and we've lost a grate man for this country and the world. of all the things i got to do, being with him the morning after, brian, was one i will
never forget. >> absolutely. thanks. another break and after a moment we're back with some of the news this day. it's a stationery and gifts store. anything we purchase for the paper cottage goes on our ink card. so you can manage your business expenses and access them online instantly with the game changing app from ink. we didn't get into business to spend time managing receipts, that's why we have ink. we like being in business because we like being creative, we like interacting with people. so you have time to focus on the things you love. ink from chase. so you can. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] everyone deserves the gift of all day pain relief. this season, discover aleve.
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as we said, there is other news to talk about tonight. we had a whole broadcast of it planned before the urgent news from south africa. a lot is weather, specifically ice storm in the middle of the country and fears it could be catastrophic. weather meteorologist jim cantore is with us tonight from dallas where they are witnessing a 50 degree drop in temperatures over 24 hours, jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. these 80s early on are helping us a little bit in north dallas. that won't be the situation for the rest of the night and tomorrow morning where this place could be complete gridlock. let's talk about this where it is a far reaching storm where seven-eighth of the country is covered by ice. dallas, little rock, louisville,
up through pittsburgh as well. talking a quarter to a half-inch of ice here. on saturday, that precipitation moves to the northeast or even the coastal cities could start as snow and sleet and sunday, some of these same areas that got the sleet will get it again in the form of freezing rain. power outages and cold for the next several days. >> jim cantore in dallas. we will stay on it with you. jim, thanks. fast-food workers across this country held protest rallies today in some 100 cities demanding a raise in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. a raise the restaurant industry, for one, says, would mean higher prices and fewer jobs. what many people may not realize is that taxpayers are footing some of the bill for low wages. more than half of fast-food workers, half of them, rely on some form of public assistance currently like food stamps. another break, our coverage
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will be continuing with us for a special second half hour of coverage, which will also be live streamed on our website nbcnews.com, where tonight you can also find some of the conversation we conducted with nelson mandela the morning after he'd been elected president of south africa. for now though and for us this half hour, that's our broadcast on this thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams.
the death of nelson mandela. this is nbc "nightly news" with brian williams. and as promised, special greetings to those of you joining us watching on our nbc stations. we're back with more of our special coverage of the passing of nelson mandela, who died today at the age of 95. as you might imagine, at this hour, reaction to his loss is pouring in from around the world and the nation of south africa now begins a state of morning.