English / Journalism / Media

Center of Memory

Nelson MandelaWhile another homage to Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) is hardly needed since his death on the 5th December, I came across a wonderful tweet from the Channel 4 Newsroom this morning which I — having retweeted, naturally — felt compelled to share here too.

It is an article  in which is embedded an invaluable piece of archive reporting from that other great British institution of television journalism, ITN (Independent Television News, which produces content for Channel 4 amongst others), founded in January 1955.  If you are only used to the BBC then I would advise you to explore the offering from ITN as its news content is second-to-none.

The Channel 4 tweet to which I refer is about a documentary in which we find Nelson Mandela’s first television interview, given in 1961.  The documentary, part of the Roving Report series, sent Brian Widlake to the newly declared Republic of South Africa. He interviewed Mandela (who was in hiding from the authorities) after a particularly brutal police crackdown on those who had taken part in a “stay at home” (otherwise known as a strike).  There are also interviews with the white progressives (liberals) Helen Suzman and Julius Lewin, critical of the policy of apartheid, members of the public (whose articulate responses are either a credit to South African education, or prior rehearsal) as well as nationalist MP, Philip Taulager, who believed that apartheid attracted foreign investors confident that the country would always be ruled by whites.

I would strongly recommend watching the fourteen-minute film, here, for not only is it a fascinating  insight into another era; not only do we meet Mandela and hear the reasonable arguments, the carefully chosen words of the lawyer  we now compare to Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi, but the arguments about the necessity of curtailing people’s freedoms in the interests of security and the role of corporations in supporting (nay, controlling) regimes are as relevant today as then.