Item 1062 - Address in Vienna, Austria, October 2003

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ZA COM MR-S-1062


Address in Vienna, Austria, October 2003


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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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

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  • English

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Foreign Minister
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

As a pensioner, an unemployed elderly man, a person who knows what loss of office and influence means, I am overjoyed to be your guest and particularly so in this most elegant of European cities.

I am in awe of being here in this great centre of European art and music; this great city that has seen and hosted so much of the expansion and contraction of nations and nationalities in European history.

I come here from a country at the southern tip of the African continent, one that has had its share of conquest and its challenges of defining nationhood. Those are aspects of history that you, the people of Austria, would not be totally unaccustomed with.

All of that, Foreign Minister, makes this visit to your capital so very special for us.

We have spent many years of our life in the isolation of a prison island. I suppose it is difficult for others to imagine just how much solace we drew in those years from the knowledge and remembrance of the great works of music that emanated from this city. Its resonance kept on reminding us of the ultimate unity of the human soul and the indestructibility of the human spirit.

You have spoken so eloquently of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and its work that there is little for me to add. I accept your praise of that organisation with great humility, knowing that it is others who toil to achieve what you praise.

We started the Children’s Fund by annually contributing one-third of our salary as President of the country during our five-year term. Looking back now, we are almost sorry that we did not insist on a salary increase because that would have meant a greater contribution to the fledgling Children’s Fund!

The response of other donors to our original contribution was overwhelming. Today the Children’s Fund is steadily approaching the endowment target it set for being able to operate into perpetuity.

We are here to make a further appeal to donors in Europe, and specifically in Austria, to contribute towards the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund as it seeks to reach that target.

South Africa managed to make a peaceful transition from the most structured form of minority racial rule to a non-racial democracy in a manner that astounded a world that was predicting bloody racial war. Resolving our conflict in that peaceful and negotiated manner made people refer to us as a miracle nation.

We have to make that miracle work into our future. And we know that our children represent our future. Too many of them still suffer too much.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund was borne out of the realisation that we have to put the well-being of our children as a top priority if we wish to build that better life for all of which we speak.

That you host us here, Minister, in the company of so many prominent persons from your country, speaks volumes for the warmth of the relationship between our two countries and people. The willingness to listen to the call to contribute to the Children’s Fund speaks of the compassion of your nature.

I have had experience of that compassion through the participation of your emissaries in the Burundi Peace Process and the generous support of your government. I am honoured to be accorded this generosity once more.

Thank you very, much Foreign Minister. And thank you to all present here for listening to me and for your willingness to be part of building a better life for our children and the future of our country.

Thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 27/02/09 by Razia Saleh




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