Madiba tribute: Bill Clinton

By Kirstin Buick
06 December 2013

Bill Clinton pays tribute to Nelson Mandela.

FORMER US PRESIDENT

The Republicans were surprised when I got elected and basically decided to assault my legitimacy from the day I became president. It was tough. I lived through an eight-year onslaught and when they started trying to run me out, Mandela was especially helpful.
'They’d taken everything from me except my mind and my heart. And I realised I would have to give those things to them.'

I remember asking him one day to go over one more time the moment when he realised he was letting go of his anger and hatred. “Well, I hated them for 14 years,” he said, “and I’m not sure, when I was young and strong, if I wasn’t kept alive on my hatred. But one day when I was breaking rocks I realised they had taken so much from me. They’d abused me physically; they’d abused me emotionally; they’d taken me away from my wife and children; I wouldn’t see my children grow up; eventually it would cost me my marriage. They’d taken everything from me except my mind and my heart. And I realised I would have to give those things to them – and I decided not to give them away.” Then he looked at me and smiled and said, “And neither should you.”

He knew how mad I was for what they [the Republicans] did, for the way they treated me and my family and friends. Not long before the vote [in US congress] on the impeachment [about the Monica Lewinsky scandal] I saw Thabo Mbeki in Washington and I asked how Mandela was. He said, “Oh, he’s fine. He said I should remind you ‘not to give them away’.” Right there before the house [of representatives] voted! It was amazing. And I went, “Right!”

Click here for more tributes to Tata.

Extracted from Mandela: The Authorised Portrait 

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