In 1990, Nelson Mandela visited the U.S. for the first time after being freed from 27 years of imprisonment in South Africa. During Mandela’s visit he also conducted his first interview with Ted Koppel of ABC News. Koppel was then known as one of the toughest and most feared TV reporters and interviewers in America. His ABC news show, “Nightline”, was one of the top rated late night programs on television.
The interview in this video is from June 1st 1990 when Nelson Mandela went to City college New York for a council meeting. What he said shook the world. Watch:
KEN ADLEMAN: Those of us who share your struggle for human rights against apartheid have been somewhat disappointed by the models of human rights that you have held up since being released from jail. You’ve met over the past six months three times with Yasser Arafat, whom you have praised. You have told Gaddafi that you share the view and applaud him on his record of human rights in his drive for freedom and peace around the world; and you have praised Fidel Castro as a leader of human rights and said that Cuba was one of the countries that’s head and shoulders above all other countries in human rights, in spite of the fact that documents of the United Nations and elsewhere show that Cuba’s one of the worst. I was just wondering, are these your models of leaders of human rights, and if so would you want a Gaddafi or an Arafat or a Castro to be a future president of South Africa?
MANDELA: One of the mistakes which some political analysts make is to think their enemies should be our enemies. (*standing ovation from audience*) Our attitude towards any country is determined by the attitude of that country to our struggle. Yasser Arafat, Colonel Gaddafi [and] Fidel Castro support our struggle to the hilt. There is no reason whatsoever why we should have any hesitation about hailing their commitment to human rights as they’re being demanded in South Africa… They do not support [the anti-apartheid struggle] only in rhetoric; they are placing resources at our disposal for us to win the struggle. That is the position.