Nelson Mandela Foundation

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has discovered what is probably now the first known television interview with the former freedom fighter.

It seems to have been filmed during a break at the 1956 Treason Trial which lasted four-and-a-half years. Mandela was with the last group of 28 accused in the marathon trial who were acquitted on 29 March 1961. Days later he went underground until his arrest on 5 August 1962.

It was previously believed the first television interview was done while Nelson Mandela was underground in late May 1961. British journalist Brian Widlake was taken to his secret hide-out in Johannesburg for the interview.

The recently resurfaced video was broadcast on 31 January 1961 by a Netherlands television broadcaster, AVRO. The rights holder, AVROTROS, has waived its licence fee for the Nelson Mandela Foundation and has authorised our use of it for one year.

“We are excited to have this historical material of what we now we believe is the first television interview with Nelson Mandela,” said Zanele Riba, archivist in charge of audio-visual material at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The interview was conducted at the Old Synagogue in Pretoria which was used as a court for the Treason Trial.

It was included in a programme on apartheid South Africa called Boeren en Bantoes presented by Mr GBJ Hiltermann. It is unclear who conducted the interview and the exact date was not immediately available.

Among the others interviewed were Professor ZK Matthews, Ahmed Kathrada and Helen Joseph.

Should you wish to broadcast this material you need to make contact with Saskia Arentsen at You are however welcome to link to the footage on our website.