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Richard Branson

Discusses Elders vision in O magazine

Dec 2007

Oprah interviews Branson for magazine. On his philanthropy:

I’ve taken on quite a lot of major corporations and done well. Capitalism is the only system that works, but it has its flaws; for one, it brings great wealth to only a few people. That wealth obviously brings extreme responsibility … To sleep well at night, those of us who are in a position to help must address these [terrible] situations.

His parents helped develop his drive:

[Eve] spends a lot of time with the Berbers in Morocco, teaching them English … My parents travel with me wherever I go. They were with me at the first Elders conference in South Africa.

The Elders delegated Mandela to persuade Saddam Hussein to step down and live in Libya or Saudi Arabia, similarly to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin:

I talked to him, and he agreed to see Saddam if Kofi Annan [former secretary-general of the United Nations] would go with him and if South African president Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki gave his blessing. A week later, both agreed, but that same week, the bombing began. So the conversation between Hussein and Mandela never took place.

He hopes the group will continue to act:

I’d love for the Elders to still be around in a thousand years’ time. I want to see the group build credibility in the world. I’d also like them to address other major issues, like global warming, dwindling fish stocks, and the horror of unnecessary disease. For instance, AIDS should never have gotten out of control in Africa; it’s unforgivable that the world community allowed it to get out of hand.