Item 1383 - Address by Nelson Mandela on receiving the Life Time Award from the Soweto Awards, February 2001

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ZA COM MR-S-1383


Address by Nelson Mandela on receiving the Life Time Award from the Soweto Awards, February 2001


  • 2001-02-24 (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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Inaugural Soweto Awards

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  • English

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It is a great privilege to be with you here tonight and to be honoured in this way.

History has provided me the opportunity to be in positions where I acted on behalf of others whose collective decisions I had to carry out. It is one of those facts of life that the individual who plays that role often receives accolades that are actually due to the collective or to other colleagues and comrades whose wisdom informed those actions.

However it may be, though, I was greatly honoured each time to receive those awards and gestures of recognition. But I am not exaggerating or saying this merely to flatter my hosts, when I state that this honour of tonight provides a special form of pleasure.

I have that special feeling of coming home to the warmth of a place where so much of me was formed. The old saying of a prophet not being honoured in his own land very definitely does not apply in this case. And I thank you most sincerely.

What adds to the occasion is the company in which you place me. It is a great honour to share this occasion with men and women of such calibre who has each in his or her own life contributed so much.

Soweto, of whom we are honoured as residents, occupies a special place in the history of our country. As with so much of our country, it represents the tragic and the great, the ugly and the beautiful, the cruel and the heroic. It was a place where people were dumped in and abandoned to; it was a symbol of a regime's neglect of its citizens; it stood for the worse that apartheid could visit upon black people.

At the same time, though, it beat with the heart of a people who could not be defeated. It had the warmth and humanity of people who believed in other people, knowing that we are human only through other human beings. It was the source and symbol of heroic resistance against oppression.

As we receive these honours tonight it is also to recognise and pay tribute to this place. It occupies a central role in the geography of apartheid and is a key symbol in our history of liberation.

We salute the many heroes who have come from here and pay silent tribute to those millions and millions of our people who have spent their lives here. It is ultimately on their behalves that we receive these awards.

We dedicate the honours to a better future for the children of Soweto. May it develop to be a place of unforced choice and may it provide a safe and secure environment for its citizens.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 01/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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