Dr. Maya Angelou talks with WFMY News 2 in an interview at her home Dec. 9, 2013.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- National media outlets have interviewed acclaimed poet Dr. Maya Angelou in the last few days following Nelson Mandela's death.
WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower interviewed Angelou on Monday at her home in Winston-Salem.
Before Nelson Mandela was a prisoner or president - he became Maya Angelou's
"He was generous and gracious," explained Angelou.
The two met in the early 1960s in Egypt. Angelou's husband was a South African Freedom Fighter like Mandela but was from a different political party.
"I had never met a South African who wasn't a fighter," she explained. "I mean loud and vituperative and ready for all sorts of arguments."
But she says Mandela was different.
"He never argued with anyone. He had a kind voice for everybody."
It did not matter if the person was black or white, a dignitary or a doorman - Angelou says Mandela was caring to his core.
"He would see a person with shoes and say, 'Those are very good looking shoes on you, where did you get them?' I mean complimentary," said Angelou.
Angelou was asked to write a poem about Mandela by the U.S. Department of State on behalf of the American people.
She says her inspiration was his greatest gift to the world - kindness and forgiveness.
"I hope we learn, we had a great teacher," said Angelou.
She added, "I appreciate the fact that I lived in his time and that he was a friend."
Read: How Nelson Mandela Became The Man We Knew
Read: Nelson Mandela's Impact In The Triad
Mandela died at age 95 on Thursday. He spent nearly 30 years in prison, helped end Apartheid in South Africa, and became the nation's first black president.
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WFMY News 2