Yesterday, world leaders and dignitaries paid tribute to Nelson Mandela at a memorial service held in Soweto's FNB Stadium. Tributes were paid to a man describe by US President Barrack Obama as, "the last great liberator of the 20th century." But what did Mandela himself think of the world leaders? Here's Mandela's verdict in his own words...
1. Margaret Thatcher
“When I saw Margaret Thatcher for the first time, we were supposed to have a meeting for one hour. Our meeting lasted for three hours and I had to offer an excuse. I then went to Neil Kinnock in parliament, and he was very excited. He says, ‘How is the Iron Lady?” I said, ‘She was warm and motherly.’ He says, ‘Warm and motherly? You must have met another lady.’
Once out of jail, Mandela wanted to meet her. This was against the advice of the ANC, but his view was that she was “a very powerful lady… one I would rather have as an ally than an enemy”.
After the meeting he “paid tribute to all the efforts she had made to secure his release”.
2. George Bush
On George Bush’s actions in Afghanistan (speaking in November 2001): ‘The United States lost 5000 people, and it is quite correct for the president to ensure the terrorists – both the masterminds as well as those who have executed the action and survived – are to be punished heavily. If the president gave into the call that the army must now withdraw, before he has actually flushed out the terrorists, that would be a disaster [...] So I support him to carry on until those terrorists have been taken out.’
Later, on the U.S. going to war with Iraq (2002): "What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust." "Why is the United States behaving so arrogantly?" All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil.”
3. Tony Blair
On Blair’s support for the US, Madela said, "Who are they now to pretend that they are the policemen of the world, the ones that should decide for the people of Iraq what should be done with their government and their leadership?" "He is the foreign minister of the United States. He is no longer prime minister of Britain."
4. Fidel Castro
On Fidel Castro, whose brother Raoul was in attendance yesterday, “From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has also been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of the vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gain made in the Cuban Revolution….Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro.”
5. Prince Charles
Mandela described Prince Charles as, “A very gifted and humble chap”. Aww!
6. Robert Mugabe
In a televised interview Sarkozy in 2008 asked Mandela how he judged what was happening in Zimbabwe. “Before I was released from prison, he was the most popular African leader, but when I was released the media said this is the end of Mugabe from the point of view of popularity. In fact he himself didn’t want me to come out of jail,” said Mandela. In another 2010 public address, Mandela took a swipe at Mugabe. “We have seen the outbreak of violence against fellow Africans in our own country and the tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe,” said Mandela, who was opposed to Mugabe’s sending of his army to the DRC to prop up the late President Laurant Kabila.
by Stephanie Chase