Oprah: I want to talk about what being in Qunu means to you. Do you come here often?

Nelson Mandela: As much as possible. My wife and I don't celebrate family days in Johannesburg, though we have a home there. My eldest son died in a car accident while I was in jail, and—

Oprah: And you weren't allowed to go to the funeral?

Nelson Mandela: No. We buried him in Johannesburg, but later my wife said, "That child must be buried in Qunu, next to your father." I also lost a daughter who died when she was a baby, and she was buried here. So Graça told me, "You must have a day with the family in Qunu, when you aren't running around the world. You can invite your children, your grandchildren, and your close relatives to come and bond."

Oprah: Did you ever think you could fall in love again at your age?

Nelson Mandela: When I first saw this lady, it was not a question of love. I regarded her as the wife of a president I had never met. I respected her very much.

Oprah: How has she changed you?

Nelson Mandela: Oh, very much. She is more stable than me, she does not get easily excited—and she keeps on warning me not to be overly enthusiastic in my work. She is a very good adviser, both on family issues and things of an international nature because she has traveled all over the world.

Oprah: One of the greatest lessons your life teaches us all is the power in forgiving our oppressors. As you once told me, you "made the brain dominate the blood." How were you able to practice that principle?

Nelson Mandela: We all struggled with it, especially since we were dealing with an enemy who was more powerful than us. But because we wanted to avoid slaughtering each other, we had to suppress our feelings. That is the only way to bring about a peaceful transformation.

Oprah: Many people can't even do that in their own families.

Nelson Mandela: True, but we must teach people that when they've been wronged, they must talk to their enemies and resolve their differences for the sake of peace.

Oprah: Now that you are in what you call the evening of your life, what do you most look forward to?

Nelson Mandela: I want to continue the work I'm doing. In some areas, poor people haven't had proper roads, electricity, water, or even toilets. But things are changing. The whole process will take many years.

Next: What Nelson Mandela knows for sure


Next Story