Item 1175 - Birthday Speech by Nelson Mandela

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ZA COM MR-S-1175


Birthday Speech by Nelson Mandela


  • 1993-01-01 - 1993-12-31 (1993)

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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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ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare

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  • English

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Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Comrades and Friends,

75 years gives one the licence younger people do not have. So I can speak frankly to all of you who have taken the time and trouble to join me and my colleagues here tonight.

There were days when I was sure I would not see another day, let alone another birthday.

There were times of such intense loneliness that one was only sustained by the unending resistance to pain, deprivation and anguish waged by millions of our people, young and old, black and white. One could not let them down.

Every day was a battle to retain dignity, to force humanity onto our jailers. The smallest kindness was a ray of sunlight: the smuggled newspaper, a Christmas hamper. It was a microcosm of what was happening in the country beyond the prison walls.

And when I was released what shocked me most was not the technological developments, satellite communications and cordless telephones, all of which I have great difficulty operating or understanding, but the abysmal conditions of abject poverty most of our people live in. It is worse now than when I went to jail 30 years ago.

Our country has everything to gain; it is within our grasp. But the killing must stop. The death and destruction, the precious lives lost, must spur us on to find solutions.

Young people in our country should be spared the humiliation and suffering we have known. They need education, housing, health care, jobs. They want a future. As adults, leaders, decision- makers, we owe them that.

As you know I have just returned from the United States. There, my extensive discussions with President Clinton concentrated on US policy towards South Africa during and after the transition. We also met Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and Secretary for Commerce Ron Brown, among others.

As a result of these meetings, and previous discussions, important initiatives have been taken, which I am pleased to be able to announce tonight.

Legislation is currently being drafted to establish a special fund of $300-million for aid and investment in South Africa. The Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, plans to lead a delegation to explore ways to generate investment in the near future. Various other US state departments are looking at additional ways to generate resources for development.

These initiatives are for the benefit of the whole of South Africa, not the ANC. They indicate a critical moment of international goodwill that we ignore at our peril. There is a window of opportunity open, and we dare not miss the moment.

The whole world is watching, willing us across that democratic threshold. It is up to all of us, irrespective of party political affiliation, to make this happen. If we believe in ourselves, our country, and our future, the world stands with us.

The way forward is clear:

* Establish the TEC and its attendant structures

* This signals that the path is clear to lift sanctions

* International initiatives are then possible.

We believe this can happen before the end of August.

Our country and people bear the deep scars of decades of apartheid rule. The healing process has not yet begun. It must not be delayed any longer. We need peace, jobs, and security for all our people.

This is the challenge before all of us.

Tonight has not been just a celebration of a birthday, but also a glimpse of what our future can be - non-racial, joyous, a celebration of life and the richness of our varied cultures; an expression of positive, boundless energy working for the benefit of everyone.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 19/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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