What do you know about the fall of apartheid? Probably as much as The Sloth did, which went along the lines of: South Africa bad. World imposed sanctions. Politicians talked. Apartheid stopped. But think about it – what triggered those politicians to talk? Jean-Yves Ollivier, that’s what.
Plot For Peace reveals the unseen puppeteer behind the history. Jean-Yves Ollivier, a French businessman born in Algiers, started as a grain trader who realised success lay in trading with South Africa, since sanctions decreed hardly anyone else would. Growing to love the country he decided to use his influential trade and political connections to end the violence and hatred of apartheid.
Believing success lay in getting opposing sides to sit around a table and talk, Jean-Yves decided France, via himself, should position itself as negotiator – helpful for South Africa and for France’s world image. Thus appointed as Jacques Chirac’s African Affairs advisor, after a few false starts Jean-Yves negotiated the high-profile release of South African General Wynand Du Toit from Angola, in exchange for the release of Angolan prisoners from South Africa.
Credibility established, Jean-Yves was on a roll. Criss-crossing the African continent by private jet (politics of the day decreed commercial flights had to take thousand mile detours via Paris) he tirelessly worked to bring together international politicians from the highest levels, culminating in a secret meeting held far out in the African bush. As we know, his work paid off.
History aside, what’s really fascinating is Jean-Yves himself. Present day interviews, interspersed with shots of him playing cards, reveal a humorous, larger than life character evidently motivated by a love of tactics, negotiation and a healthy disrespect for playing by the rules. Filled with wonderfully candid anecdotes and talking heads from political players of the time, including Winnie Mandela, FW de Klerk, Pik Botha, Mitterrand, Thabo Mbeki and more, it’s inspiring proof that political influence goes far beyond mere politicians.
UK release 14 March