With testimonies from the key participants and using unpublished archive material, this historical-political thriller tells the story of Jean-Yves Ollivier, aka "Mr. Jacques." His behind-the-scenes efforts played a crucial role in freeing Nelson Mandela and hastening the end of apartheid in South Africa.
Southern Africa was then on the brink of explosion. In the mid-1980s, township violence blew up in South Africa and Apartheid was setting the country on fire. In Angola and Namibia, conflict was raging. South African regime and UNITA were fighting against the government of Angola, SWAPO and Cuba. All under the constant gaze and with the discreet help of the Great Powers engaged in Africa in a genuine hot war.
Total onslaught was written large across the horizon. It was then that a foreign commodity trader with connections to all stakeholders in the region became the lifeline for top-secret contacts. To build trust, he organised a vast prisoners’ exchange.
“In 1981, arriving in South Africa felt like visiting another planet. I wondered how the whites did not realize that, unless they changed and accepted to share the country, they were headed for disaster.”
Jean-Yves Ollivier, Chairman of the Brazzaville Foundation
Between June and December 1988, over five meetings in the Congolese capital, landmark agreements take shape. The Brazzaville agreements terminate the Cold War in Africa, nearly a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall and announce the end of apartheid. They provide for the departure of the 50 000 Cuban troops from Angola and, in return, the withdrawal of South African troops within their borders. Namibia accesses therefore independence.
February 11, 1990, fourteen months after the Brazzaville Agreements, Nelson Mandela is released. Mandela walks out of jail – a free man and, soon, South Africa’s first democratically elected President. By 30 June 1991, following the constitutional negotiations apartheid officially ended in South Africa.
“Monsieur Jacques” leads this action-packed documentary through a rugged landscape of moral dilemmas. To some, such as Thabo Mbeki and militants for transparency, he was a sanctions buster, a secret go- between, a French spy. For others, such as Winnie Mandela and Mozambique’s former President Joaquim Chissano, he is a trusted friend and a man of bold vision. For the first time, the protagonists of this high- risk venture – African heads of state, battle-tested generals, international diplomats, secret service operatives, and anti-apartheid icons such as Winnie Mandela and ANC leader Thabo Mbeki – recount the true story of how the front line states put paid to apartheid.