Item 1007 - Address at Fundraising event

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ZA COM MR-S-1007


Address at Fundraising event


  • September 2002 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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  • English

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Ms Lynn van Rooyen
Ms Jackie Gallagher
Ms Julia Wilkinson
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great privilege to be your guest at this occasion and we thank you most sincerely for the invitation.

I always mention with appreciation the fact that there are still some people who remember that I am an unemployed pensioner and who take pity on me by inviting us to such occasions.

The honour of being here is heightened by our knowledge of the wonderful and admirable work being done by the three institutions represented here tonight: Takalani Home for the Mentally Disabled, Sparrow Schools and Living Link . This spirit of caring reflected in your work is an inspiration to us all, and we are honoured to be associated with it tonight.

Many people in the world hold South Africa in particular high esteem because of the quality of the struggle we conducted and the manner in which we eventually resolved our conflict.

The fight against apartheid is universally recognised and referred to as one of the great moral struggles of the twentieth century. The principled and courageous struggle of the South African people against racial oppression was seen and shared by the world as a struggle for the dignity of all humanity.

The manner in which we eventually resolved our national conflict led to us being called a miracle nation. Prophets of doom all around the world predicted that South Africa would end up with one of the bloodiest and most destructive racial wars ever. Once more, the leaders and people of South Africa demonstrated those special characteristics and sat down to talk to one another and reach a peaceful solution to our conflict.

In all of that - the manner in which we conducted our struggle as well as the way we reached our national settlement - an overriding theme was that of caring: caring for the well-being of our people and our nation.

The millions of South Africans who were in various ways part of the struggle against apartheid did so out of a simple caring about people living lives of decency, free from oppression and neglect.

The political leaders who decided to negotiate rather than fight did so because they deeply cared for the ultimate well being of the people of their country. They cared about the suffering that would be visited upon ordinary citizens by a continuation and deepening of conflict.

I often think that the most fundamental challenge to South Africans in our post-apartheid era is to establish that sense of caring as the key characteristic of our new society. We should be known in the world as that nation that cared so much that they sacrificed in the struggle against apartheid; reached out to one another across historic divides to unite their country; and now in democratic South Africa are generous, humane and protective of one another.

The quality of our caring will show particularly in the manner that we treat those that are most vulnerable in our society. Amongst those vulnerable sectors counts the disabled. Our Constitution, the supreme law of our land, in various places identifies the disabled as a group specifically deserving of dignity.

Mental disability challenges our individual and collective compassion in a particularly profound way. Human beings regard their mental capacity as the most defining feature of themselves as a species. To respond in a caring manner to the impairment of those capacities in others is to really know ourselves as human beings and to live out our humanness.

We have had reason and occasion to speak out quite frequently against the stigmatisation of those who live HIV and AIDS. We caution that people often die from the effects of stigmatisation more than from the disease itself. One can say that about other diseases and disabilities as well.

About mental disability there was the same tendency to hide it and to stigmatise it. The work of our three organisations represents an important fight against those attitudes. And it challenges us all to be involved in the open caring for and about mental disability.

I therefore wish to appeal to those present to contribute generously tonight and to continue that support beyond tonight and even beyond material support. Let us each seek in different ways to contribute to making South Africa a special caring nation.

I thank you

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 26/01/09 by Razia Saleh




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