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NEAL CONAN, host:
When TIME editor Richard Stengel collaborated with Nelson Mandela on his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” he spent about three years traveling with the South African president, attached his shoes, straightening his tie, accession hours and hours of conversation. Mandela let him central his life, his thoughts and a little bit of his heart.
Now, Stengel writes about what he abstruse from Mandela in those canicule in a new book, “Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Acquaint on Life, Love and Courage.” If you accept questions about how the abundant man abstruse to become the abundant man, our buzz cardinal is 800-989-8255; email us, [email protected] You can additionally accompany the chat on our website. That’s at npr.org, bang on TALK OF THE NATION.
Richard Stengel now joins us from CNN’s Radio Studios in New York City. Nice to accept you with us today.
Mr. RICHARD STENGEL (Editor, TIME Magazine): Abundant to be with you, Neal.
CONAN: And abounding of us would alarm Nelson Mandela as a civilian saint. But you activate this book by adage he himself would not accede with that. And you additionally accede that it’s not apocryphal modesty.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. STENGEL: Yes. He doesn’t appetite to be depicted as a saint. He consistently talked about how awry he was as a animal being. He didn’t appetite to be up on a basement area bodies anticipation that he was perfect. And one of things that I capital to do in the book is there’s been a affectionate of Santa Claus-ification of Nelson Mandela, this kindly, aging old man who brought abandon to his people. But he was, you know, he’s a very, actual boxy guy. He started the aggressive addition of the ANC aback he was a adolescent man. He was a hot-headed, agitated revolutionary. He was, you know, he was advised a agitator by the West afore he went into prison.
So it’s I aloof capital to affectionate of present a abounding account of him. And in fact, his abundance comes from the actuality that he does accept flaws, not that he’s flawless.
CONAN: Indeed. You adduce his ancient law partner, Oliver Tambo, who would become arch of the ANC afterwards Mandela went to prison, “as a man, Nelson Mandela is passionate, emotional, sensitive, bound stung to acerbity and backfire by insult and patronage.”
Mr. STENGEL: I know. It’s affectionate of amazing, isn’t it, Neal? I mean, that isn’t the Nelson Mandela we know. That isn’t the Nelson Mandela that absolved out of bastille in 1990. And that, in abounding ways, the affair of my accomplished book and the affair of, you know, array of my adventure with alive with him on his adventures is, what happened? What afflicted that young, brash man that Oliver Tambo wrote about, into this measured, calm, always, you know, civil, affectionate actuality who emerged in 1990 and helped accommodate white and atramentous in South Africa? That’s, in some way, is the abundant mystery.
CONAN: And the greatest of his teachers, you suggest, was prison.
Mr. STENGEL: Yes. Because bastille afflicted that adolescent man, and it austere abroad a lot of the accidental genitalia of his character. And again, allotment of it was through his own self-analysis, but allotment of it is through this imposed ascendancy that bastille has on you. I mean, the alone affair you could ascendancy aback you were in bastille for all those years was yourself.
I mean, I bethink aback I aboriginal went to his corpuscle in Robben Island. And I absolved in, I absolved – about absolved in, but I gasped aback I saw it, because – I mean, Nelson Mandela, as you know, is a big man. He’s 6’2″ inches tall, he has big easily and a big head. And he is beyond than activity in a actually and allegorical way.
And this bastille corpuscle – I mean, he couldn’t alike lie bottomward and amplitude out his legs. I mean, it could about accommodate him. But what he abstruse and what he accomplished himself was how to accommodate himself, how to convenance the cocky ascendancy that he actually didn’t accept afore he went into prison.
CONAN: And there is an adventure in the book that happens – well, not so abundant – it’s odd – a botheration with his prostate advance to conceivably the abundant advance that – you alarm this in the affiliate area you say the assignment is to advance from the front. He was in a corpuscle with four added leaders of the ANC, but afresh afterwards he went to the hospital, comes aback to acquisition him in a corpuscle by himself and realizes this is both a bulletin and an opportunity.
Mr. STENGEL: Yes. I mean, basically, aback he went back, that was afresh Pollsmoor Prison, which is area he was afterwards Robben Island. And afterwards his surgery, they confused him aback into a corpuscle by himself. And he had -you know, he actually – he – one of the secrets of what kept his anatomy and body calm is that he – they kept him with his bastille mates who he was bedevilled to activity in bastille with. And they consoled ceremony other.
And suddenly, he was in a corpuscle by himself and he had a affectionate of revelation, which was that the aggressive attempt that the ANC had been practicing all these years, would never actually abolish the white ageism government of South Africa. And accustomed that, why didn’t they alpha negotiations? And this was adjoin all of the ANC policy, which was afresh headed, as you mentioned, by Oliver Tambo. But he, on his own, decided, you apperceive what, I’m activity to alpha negotiations with the government. And it was an abundantly adventurous affair to do. And by the way, it additionally got him in agitation with his colleagues, some of whom acquainted that he was betraying the movement.
CONAN: And indeed, there were a lot of bodies that way. Nevertheless, he did go ahead, alpha those negotiations and of course, at some time, he had to afresh acquaint his colleagues what he was doing.
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Mr. STENGEL: Yes, and he, you know, he chuckled as he told me the adventure of cogent his colleagues because there were four of them and two of them said, you know, why didn’t you alpha earlier? And two of them said, you know, how (unintelligible)…
Mr. STENGEL: Yes. Actual bad idea. What are you doing?
CONAN: Because this was the axiological key catechism the ANC had argued all along, no, no, no, we can never accept negotiations until we are advised as equals, actually until all those political prisoners are let go.
Mr. STENGEL: Exactly. In fact, you know, there was a moment aback the white government offered him his release. This is continued afore 1990 and the ’80s. If he abandoned the aggressive struggle, and he abundantly did not, and one of his daughters apprehend his animadversion at a accent in Soweto that said, you know, had that acclaimed band that alone chargeless men can negotiate. And that’s the base in which he alone actuality appear from bastille early.
CONAN: We’re talking with Richard Stengel, editor of Time Magazine, about his book “Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Acquaint on Life, Love, and Courage,” basically addendum that he kept or taken from addendum that he kept while he spent time with Nelson Mandela as they collaborated on his autobiography.
If you’d like to ask about how the abundant man became the abundant man, accord us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us: [email protected]
Let’s go to Jesse(ph). Jesse with us from Hartford in Connecticut.
JESSE: Hello, Neal. How are you?
CONAN: I’m well, acknowledge you.
JESSE: Good. I am analytical to apperceive that your bedfellow can animadversion with South Africa is advancing into the all-embracing spotlight with the accessible FIFA amateur in 2010.
CONAN: The Apple Cup, yes.
JESSE: Correct. Correct. What is the bequest that is larboard abaft and array of what will be the altercation as the apple is array of refocused on South Africa already again? What is the bequest that bodies will be discussing?
CONAN: Richard Stengel?
Mr. STENGEL: Yes. Jesse, it’s a acceptable and fair question. And – I mean, there actually – there wouldn’t be a Apple Cup in South Africa this year if the bequest of Nelson Mandela wasn’t the actuality that he affiliated the country. He prevented what he anticipation was possibly imminent, which was a civilian war between, you know, white conservatives and atramentous abandon fighters. And he acquainted the country was actually on the knife bend of a civilian war aback he got out. And it was basically his abundant accomplishment that he affiliated the country, that he basically said, you know, to the South African whites, hey, let’s accumulate the accomplished abaft us. He said to the, you know, to the abundant rank and book of his own voters, you know, let’s be accommodating and let’s move together. We – you know, this is a abundant bubble nation of all altered colors and we accept to move calm with one person, one vote democracy. I mean, that’s his abundant legacy.
And, you know, the nation has been ambrosial acknowledged economically aback then. I mean, it does accept some very, you know, difficult structural problems, a actual aerial HIV rate, a aerial abomination rate, but it actually did beat expectations, decidedly those who anticipation the country would alight into a civilian war. And it had never been a bearings like what happened in South Africa before.
CONAN: Jesse, acknowledgment actual abundant for the call.
JESSE: Acknowledge you actual much.
CONAN: Aftermost year, we saw this blur about rugby, “Invictus.” You apperceive Nelson Mandela well. How abundant of that was true?
Mr. STENGEL: Well, it’s – you know, it was based on a admirable book alleged “Playing the Enemy” by John Carlin, and I wrote a little bit about it in “Mandela’s Way.” You know, what is – what was – the accuracy of it was, you know, one of the capacity in my book is, you know, Apperceive Your Enemy.
Mr. STENGEL: And one of the things that Mandela did aback he was in bastille is he accomplished himself Afrikaans, he advised Afrikaner history, he memorized Afrikaans poetry. And allotment of acquirements about, you know, the Afrikaan, you know, the white South African, basically, who had imposed ageism on that country was that their admired action was rugby. And, you know, Mandela consistently said to address to people, you accept to address to their arch and their heart. And him compassionate rugby, all-embracing rugby, was a way of ambrosial to the Afrikaner’s heart, and he hoped the affection of the nation.
And so it became a affectionate of attribute and alike allegory for what Mandela was aggravating to accomplish as a whole. So I mean, the basal accuracy of it, I think, is actually actual and fair.
CONAN: There is addition affiliate you address in your book. We anticipate of Nelson Mandela as, if annihilation else, actually fearless, and according to what you write, annihilation could be added from the truth.
Mr. STENGEL: Well, he – you know, one of the things, Neal, that I begin so alluring and amazing aback I was talking to him – and we did many, many, abounding hours of interviews for “Long Walk to Freedom” – was he would generally say, you know, I was abashed or I was actual abashed that the bouncer was activity to advance me or – he was consistently adage or generally said, you know, that he was activity fear. And at first, I aloof anticipation it was amazing. I mean, actuality is one of the greatest heroes of 20th century, one of the greatest heroes ever, cogent this fear. And I would ask him about it, and he would say, well, Richard, it’s – it would be aberrant not to be afraid, wouldn’t it?
And what I accomplished was that allotment of his adventuresomeness is that he would accept to actuality scared. But allotment of his adventuresomeness was him allegory his own bearings and saying, look, I’m a symbol, I’m a leader. I feel abhorrence here, but I accept to appearance it. I accept to, as he generally said, put up a front.
So all of – abounding of these occasions aback added prisoners or added bodies or added South Africans looked up to Mandela as this assured hero, he was, you know, activity aforementioned affectionate of anxieties and fears and trepidations that we all feel, but he managed to acceleration aloft it. I mean, that is what makes him a abundant hero, I think.
CONAN: One of the abundant belief Richard Stengel tells in “Mandela’s Way” is about an aeroplane flight that Nelson Mandela took with one of his bodyguards, a man called Mike(ph), who, center through the flight, a twin-prop-plane, and one of the propellers stop turning, Nelson Mandela looked up from his bi-weekly and noticed that and told Mike to acquaint the pilot and went aback to his newspaper.
Mike said he was actually abashed of this, but looked at Mandela, he was aloof calmly account his newspaper, landed. And afresh later, Richard Stengel took a car ride with Nelson Mandela, who told him, I was actually abashed up there.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. STENGEL: Now, it was – it’s – and again, talking to Mike afterwards – I mean, Mike said the alone affair that calmed him and he – this was apparently his, you know, additional or third aeroplane cruise in his accomplished activity – was that alike while the, you know, the alike was landing, Mandela was aloof actual calmly account the bi-weekly like he was, you know, commuting in from his burghal home to the office.
And again, as Mandela said, that was him putting up a front, assuming not to be scared, and that calmed Mike and it apparently calmed the pilots and calmed all the bodies on the ground.
CONAN: The name of the book is “Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Acquaint on Life, Love, and Courage.” You’re alert to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
Let’s go abutting to Dan(ph). Dan’s on the band from Wilmington, Delaware.
DAN (Caller): Hi. I was apprehensive what appulse or aftereffect did Dr. King and the American civilian rights movements of the ’60s accept on Nelson Mandela and his abandon attempt in South Africa?
Mr. STENGEL: You know, Dan, it’s a acceptable catechism and it’s – and there’s apparently a hardly atramentous acknowledgment to Americans and I calculation myself in that group. I mean, Mandela – you know, South Africa was, of course, a British colony. He – Mandela never abundant looked to America. He knew about the Constitution, the founding and Abraham Lincoln.
But the – by the time the civilian rights movement in America was in aerial gear, he was already in prison. I mean, he – it – you know, he was confined in 1964. There apparently wasn’t abundant account that they got in South Africa in those canicule from America. Bethink that allotment of a absolute government that South Africa had was that it kept out account like that. So he wasn’t all that afflicted by it. I mean, he…
CONAN: Well, it was a abundant question. The American civilian rights movement was, of course, congenital on the archetype of Gandhi and nonviolence. And clearly, that was not the aisle called by Nelson Mandela and the ANC.
Mr. STENGEL: But, Neal, as you know, Gandhi spent his determinative years in South Africa. And Gandhi was, indeed, a abundant access on the ANC and Nelson Mandela. It actually wasn’t until, you know, the actual aboriginal ’60s that the ANC abandoned nonviolence. I mean, nonviolence was – they accepted it, partly from that Gandhian tradition.
But as Mandela told me at the time – and I address about it on the book -you know, he had won overarching goal, which was to accompany abandon to his bodies and his nation. And aggregate abroad was a tactic or a strategy, as he would say. And he said to me very, actual frankly, you know, nonviolence as far as I was anxious was a tactic. It wasn’t a moral acute or principle. And that’s a ambrosial adamantine accuracy about Nelson Mandela.
CONAN: Interesting. We were talking with some of the veterans of SNCC aftermost week, adulatory their 50th ceremony bottomward at Shaw College in North Carolina, indeed. They were talking actual abundant forth the aforementioned lines: nonviolence was a tactic.
Let’s see we can get addition addition on the line. Acknowledge you actual much, Dan. Let’s go to Craig(ph). Craig with us from Cedar Rapids in Iowa.
CRAIG (Caller): Well, you about answered my question. I aloof wondered how abundant Nelson Mandela was accustomed with and followed Gandhi, and did Martin Luther King, was he a apprentice of Gandhi too?
CONAN: Well, he was a apprentice of Gandhi. But yes, Craig, a little bit added about Gandhi’s accord to the ANC.
Mr. STENGEL: Yes. I mean, the ANC absolutely followed Gandhi’s archetypal in South Africa. Remember, Gandhi was afresh – I mean, he was an Indian advocate in South Africa. And the beef he was arch was – weren’t for everybody. It was for Indian South Africans, and to get them to accept at added privileges and added adequation afore the law.
The ANC was afresh a absolutely African and atramentous organization. And they watched what Gandhi did, and they abstruse from it. In fact, you know, it was alone after that the ANC alike opened its doors to non-Africans and to Indians. And the Indian associates of the ANC were a abundant access on Mandela. His – one of his great, abundant assembly all those years in bastille was Ahmed Kathrada. Kathrada was a abundant apprentice of Gandhi, and that helped brainwash Mandela into the Gandhian ways, satya-agraha, which eventually, of course, they renounced.
CONAN: Hmm. We aloof accept a few abnormal larboard with you. And I capital to ask you, so abundant of your book is about your claimed acquaintance with Nelson Mandela, aggregate from the flash of his smile to the abstruse disappointment of his frown.
Mr. STENGEL: Yes. I beggarly – and, Neal, as you know, I mean, he was a huge access in my life. I mean, he apprenticed me to ally my wife. He’s asperse to my two sons. You know, he afflicted my activity profoundly. And again, you know, accepting to absorb a assertive cardinal of years of my activity cerebration what would Nelson Mandela do is article that’s a ambrosial acceptable exercise for everybody. So it’s – partially the book is aloof – is partially my acknowledgment and to advise those acquaint that he abstruse at a atom of the amount that he had to pay.
CONAN: “Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Acquaint on Life, Love, and Courage.” Richard Stengel, acknowledgment actual abundant for your time today.
Mr. STENGEL: Acknowledge you so much, Neal.
CONAN: You can apprehend added about how Mandela’s years in bastille molded him and accomplished him important acquaint about how to be a baton in an extract at npr.org, bang on TALK OF THE NATION.
Tomorrow, Political Junkie day. Ken Rudin is with us. Accompany us for that.
This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I’m Neal Conan in Washington.
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