JOHANNESBURG – The Nelson Mandela Foundation on Thursday said that it might
have discovered the anti-apartheid revolutionary African leader’s first known
television interview which was recorded almost six decades ago.
The 24-second clip was reportedly filmed during a break at the infamous
1956 Treason Trial which lasted four-and-a-half years.
The interview was conducted at the Old Synagogue in Pretoria which was used
as a court for the Treason Trial.
Mandela was one of the last group of 28 accused in the marathon trial who
were acquitted on March 29, 1961.
Days later Mandela went underground until his arrest on August 5, 1962,
which ultimately saw him spend 27 years in prison, most of them on Robben
Island, before becoming the first democratically-elected President of South
The recently resurfaced video was broadcast on Jan 31, 1961 by a
Netherlands television broadcaster, AVRO.
It was included in a programme on apartheid South Africa called ‘Boeren en
Bantoes’ (‘Boers and Bantus’, the references to white and black South Africans
used during the apartheid era).
It is unclear who conducted the interview and the exact date was not
“We are excited to have this historical material of what we now believe is
the first television interview with Nelson Mandela,” said Sello Hatang, CEO of
the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“It was previously believed the first television interview was done while
Nelson Mandela was underground in late May 1961,” the Foundation said.
British journalist Brian Widlake was taken to his secret hide-out in
Johannesburg for the interview.
The rights holder, AVROTROS, has waived its licence fee for the Nelson
Mandela Foundation and has authorised it to use the clip for one year.
Mandela died on December 5, 2013, aged 95.