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Trevor McDonald: Return to South Africa

(Image credit: Chris Malone)

Journalist Sir Trevor McDonald returns to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s centenary, the country he first visited at the height of apartheid

To mark what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday in July, Sir Trevor McDonald revisits South Africa in this film exploring the anti-apartheid leader’s legacy.

As well as visiting the former South African president’s home – now very much a tourist attraction – and the prison cell on Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 years, Sir Trevor visits Soweto’s townships to see if the country is any closer to becoming the rainbow nation Mandela hoped for.


In 1990 Trevor McDonald was the first journalist to interview Nelson Mandela after his release from prison

On that first interview with Mandela, Sir Trevor says: 'I loved it. Even if it was nerve-racking! I remember sitting up the night before thinking of ways I could ask him – in diplomatic language – as great as he was, how did he think he’d cope with the problems facing this country? It was going to be impossible to come to any agreement with the national government party. What Mandela said is memorable and still applicable to politics today. 'He told me, "Once you’re prepared to negotiate seriously, everything is possible." Which is true, isn’t it? I saw in that a positive view I had not foreseen before.'

With poverty, crime and racial division still in evidence, this is sometimes uncomfortable viewing, but Sir Trevor sees flashes of hope in a thriving housing market and revitalised democracy.

TV Times rating: ****