Nelson Mandela: The Africans require, want the franchise on the basis of one man, one vote. They want political independence.
Brian Widlake: My name is Brian Widlake, and in 1961, I conducted the very first television interview with Nelson Mandela, perhaps one of the most remarkable men of the last hundred years.
Widlake interview: I went to see the man who organized this stale-way, a 42 year old African lawyer, Nelson Mandela, the most dynamic leader in South Africa today. The police were hunting for him at the time, but African nationalists had arranged for me to meet him at his hideout.
Widlake: Everybody was after Mandela. He was the most wanted man in all of Africa, in fact. Say that we have to have the best security that we possibly could. We found a house which belonged to a South African Don, he was a political Don, and it had 2 things which were very important: It was fairly remote, and it also had two exits, because we were going to do this interview in the small hours of the night, and therefore we wanted to be able to get out fast should the security people get out of us. The actual meeting was really odd, because I was sitting there, all ready with cameras, with the lights, everything switched on, and ready to go. And I didn't realize, until I looked right over my shoulder, and there he was. He had just walked silently into the room, almost like a cat burglar. He was a large man, 6 foot 2, something of that nature. Dressed in black leathers, and also a black baseball cap, and posing, as far as security people were concerned, as a taxi driver. He gave the impression he really believed that he was capable of leading their great country back to freedom and the freedom spirit. At that time, I didn't believe it. I looked at him doubtingly, because I sometimes wondered in the back of my mind, is Nelson Mandela almost too good to be true? Is there, perhaps, the seeds of terrorism somewhere lurking beneath his skin?
Widlake interview: Do you see Africans being able to develop in this country without the European being pushed out?
Mandela: We have made it very clear in our policy that South Africa is a country of many races. There is room for all the various races in this country.
Widlake: I think the nationalist government had always thought that if the blacks had got control of the country, and every man would have a vote, that they would be absolutely brutal in revenge against the white man. When I talked to Mandela about this particular fear, he looked at me in astonishment, as if I didn't know that what he had said about the freedom that everybody in the South Africa - Black, white, yellow or any color under the sun - They would always be treated in exactly the same way if a black government was installed. He was quite definite about that and he looked really, really surprised, as much as to say, "You haven't been listening and you don't really believe me, do you?"
He punched it home pretty hard.
Mandela: You don't have to have education in order to know that you want certain fundamental rights, you have got aspirations, you have got acclaims. It has nothing to do with education whatsoever.
Widlake: As far as I can remember now, he was arrested about six months after he gave that interview. In a way, I wasn't that surprised, because he used to move around the South Africa freely, well dressed. Everybody knew him. All the blacks knew him extremely well. Some of the other ANC leaders were there. Kathy Kathrada, he said to me, I had always warned Nelson that he was putting his head far too high over the parapet, but he never took any notice of that.
Remarkable man, I think. He was gentle, he was patient, he was immensely clever, there's no doubt about it, and a superb negotiator. But above all, he was a great human being, and I think he will be remembered for that more than anything else.