Item 1181 - Ceremony in Banqueting Hall

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ZA COM MR-S-1181


Ceremony in Banqueting Hall


  • 1993-10-09 (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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ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare

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  • English

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It is with humility and gratitude that I accept this scroll which symbolises the Freedoms which have been granted to me by nine cities, boroughs and districts in Scotland, Wales and England, at ceremonies earlier this morning.

I wish to express my appreciation for the honour which has bestowed upon me by the councillors and citizens of the City of Aberdeen, the City of Dundee, the City of Glasgow, the London Borough of Greenwich, the Borough of Islwyn, the City of Kingston upon Hull, the District of Midlothian, the City of Newcastle upon Tyne and the City of Sheffield.

It is a special privilege to be a guest of this great City of Glasgow. It will always enjoy a distinguished place in the records of the international campaign against apartheid.

The people of Glasgow in 1981 were the first in the world to confer on me the Freedom of the City at a time when I and my comrades in the ANC were imprisoned on Robben Island serving life sentences, which in apartheid South Africa then meant imprisonment until death.

Whilst we were physically denied our Freedom in the country of our birth, a City, 6,000 miles away, and as renowned as Glasgow, refused to accept the legitimacy of the apartheid system, and declared us to be free. And in a real sense we were free, because however cruel the treatment meted out on us in prison, we never lost sight of the vision of a new South Africa as enshrined in our Freedom Charter.

The City of Glasgow in granting us the Freedom of the City also took upon itself a very special obligation. It resolved to do everything possible to secure our freedom from the prisons of apartheid. It took up our plight in Britain and internationally. For example, the following year the Lord Provost co-ordinated a Declaration signed by over a thousand Mayors from 56 countries across the world which called for our freedom. Then in 1985 it joined with over 100 British local authorities in petitioning the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, to press for my release. Such initiatives were thankfully successful.

I regret that time prevents me from expressing my thanks for everything that was done in furtherance of the anti-apartheid cause by the people of this country.

I am even more disappointed that it proved impossible to visit the other eight cities, boroughs and districts which have granted me their Freedom. I know that your record is equally commendable as demonstrated by actions you have taken in support of the cause of peace and democracy in our country and indeed by many, many other local authorities who sought to identify in one form or another with our struggle. I hope when you return home you will express my thanks to all who were responsible for the honours which have been bestowed on me and the oppressed masses of South Africa today.

I hope that you will also take home another message. It is a simple message. Today, I and the majority of our people still do not enjoy the most precious of freedoms .- the right to vote.

Over the past three and half years the African National Congress has spared no effort to secure a negotiated settlement which will lead to a genuine end to apartheid and a new united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.

This prospect is now clearly on the horizon. April 27 1994 has been set as the date for South Africa's first non-racial elections. Legislation has been enacted to establish a Transitional Executive Council which will represent the end to exclusive white minority rule. Other legislation provides for an Independent Electoral Commission, an Independent Media Commission and an Independent Broadcasting Authority.

Negotiations are continuing on the Transitional Constitution. Once this is finalised and enacted, a comprehensive framework will be in place for the democratic transformation of South Africa.

Real and tangible progress has been made and to encourage this process we have called for the lifting of economic sanctions. We thank all of you who individually and collectively took up the call to boycott apartheid South Africa. We will for ever be grateful for your actions.

However the road ahead is not easy. Unprecedented violence has been unleashed in our country by those determined to prevent democratic change. There are others who cling to the old order or yearn for ethnic privilege. They fear the democratic will of our people.

Our message today is clear: "let democracy triumph". We need your help to make sure that the elections take place as agreed and that they are genuinely 'free and fair'. In particular, we look forward to a major international presence in the country by the United Nations, the OAU, the Commonwealth and the European Community to assist with the supervision, monitoring and verification of the electoral process. We hope that the British government will make a positive contribution to such an international effort.

We, in particular, wish to express our gratitude for the support we have already received from the people of Britain for the ANC's Election Fund - our 'Votes for Freedom' campaign. The elections in South Africa cannot be deemed to be 'free and fair' unless the ANC has the resources to contest the elections on an equitable basis. We urge everyone of goodwill to support this initiative.

But we also have a message for the future. Our country and the Southern African region as a whole face the enormous task of overcoming the legacies of apartheid and the destructive consequences of its policies. The bonds of solidarity which united us in our common struggle to end apartheid must now take on a new form. As structures of non-racial regional and local government take shape in South Africa we will look to local government in Britain to extend effective forms of support and solidarity. We also need to encourage new forms of people to people solidarity so that the spirit of internationalism which found expression in the anti-apartheid cause can now help us in the new era of reconstruction and development with which we will be engaged following the April 27 elections next year.

My final word of thanks is to you Father Huddleston. It is your moral authority which has provided a unique leadership of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Britain and indeed of the entire Movement world-wide. It inspired millions of people to take up our cause which is testified by the ceremony today. We thank you very much for everything which you have done for freedom and justice in our country.

Once more our thanks go out to all of you gathered here today - and to the people of Britain in general - for the continued and practical support you are giving so that we too can realise a democratic dispensation in South Africa.

Glasgow 9th October 1993

Citizens of Glasgow. We are here today to say thank you. For it was your City which refused to forget our plight when I was incarcerated on Robben Island with others in the leadership of the African National Congress.

Twelve years ago, in 1981, you bestowed upon me the Freedom of your great City of Glasgow.

It was a tremendous honour for me personally.

It was also of great symbolic significance. For you were granting to me the Freedom of your City when the apartheid regime was imprisoning us and indeed all our people in the land of our birth.

But above all, it was an act of commitment. You, the people of Glasgow, pledged that you would not relax until I was free to receive this honour in person. I am deeply grateful to you and the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Scotland for all your efforts to this end. Indeed it was from this Square that, on the occasion of my 70th birthday, the Nelson Mandela Marchers set out for London in June 1988 to demand my release and that of all South African political prisoners.

People of Glasgow. I am now free to be with you. This is why I am here to say thank you. But I am still denied the most fundamental of freedoms - the right to vote. Nor are our people free from apartheid, free from poverty, free from homelessness, or free from unemployment and exploitation.

Therefore I am also here to urge you to make a new pledge. I want you to pledge that you will not relax your efforts until all our people have their freedom.

But I bring also with me today a message of hope. We have made great progress towards our goal of one-person one-vote elections. Legislation has been agreed for the establishment of a multi-party Transitional Executive Council to oversee the governing of the country up to elections and on an Independent Electoral Commission to organise them.

27 April 1994 has been set for South Africa's first ever non-racial elections. Our people in just over six months time will be able to vote for freedom.

This election will above all be a choice between the ANC and its vision of a new democratic South Africa and those who still cling to the old apartheid order. But as you are aware, there are various forces within South Africa which refuse to accept the inevitability of a democratic future for our country. They do not enjoy popular support but derive their strength from the fear, insecurity and destabilisation which they seek to impose through the brutal terrorism of unknown killers who have a total disregard for the value of human life. There are also other forces which, because of their narrow, selfish and sectarian interests, are resisting genuine change and are creating obstacles to a smooth transition to democracy.

This is why we still need your support and solidarity. The international community must insist that these elections take place as agreed and that they are free and fair. We, in the ANC, in particular, need the resources to contest the elections on an equitable basis. Without such support the elections cannot be deemed to be genuinely free and fair. We hope you will all contribute generously to 'Votes for Freedom' which we have launched in Britain to raise funds for our electoral campaign.

We also urge you to look beyond the coming elections to the time when we hope to be engaged in building a new non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. We will continue to need your solidarity as we seek to free our people of hunger, poverty, illiteracy and fear.

We know of the ties of solidarity which were developed by the Anti-Apartheid Movement with our people during the anti-apartheid struggle across Scotland and throughout Britain involving trade unionists, the churches, the artistic community, academic institutions and many, many others. We cherish these relationships and hope that they will flourish in the future so that we can together share in our common effort to rid the world of racial tyranny and injustice.

Thank you.

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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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