Item 1413 - Mosaic Foundation Dinner, Washington November 2001

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ZA COM MR-S-1413


Mosaic Foundation Dinner, Washington November 2001


  • 2001-11-13 (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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Fourth Annual Benefit Dinner

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  • English

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The Mosaic Foundation is an American charitable and educational organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and children, and to increasing awareness and understanding about the peoples of the Arab World in the United States.

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I increasingly find myself these days having to thank people for their generosity and consideration towards an unemployed old pensioner. Tonight is no exception: you had the good common sense to recognise that a person in that category may be in need of a good dinner from time to time.

I thank you most heartily - the meal was sumptuous and the company great.

That you chose to present the occasion as a tribute to us was an undeserved but highly appreciated bonus to accompany the meal. And I thank you for the honour, and wish to express my special appreciation to the artists who performed here this evening. You lifted our spirits and inspired us with your talents.

A special word of thanks to the Mosaic Foundation and the United Nations Foundation for combining their efforts to not only make this evening possible, but for collaborating in the fundraising for the marvellous cause they announced.

One cannot emphasise enough the extent of the threat posed by HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa. The combined efforts of people and organisations from across the globe are required to combat this threat. The manner in which these two foundations, Mosaic and the United Nations Foundation, collaborated in this project, is an example and an inspiration.

Your commendable actions are in response to a tragedy of unprecedented proportions that is unfolding in Africa. AIDS today in Africa is claiming more lives than the sum total of all wars, famines and floods, and the ravages of such deadly diseases as malaria. It is devastating families and communities; overwhelming and depleting health care services; and robbing schools of both students and teachers.

Business has suffered losses of personnel, productivity and profits; economic growth is being undermined and scarce development resources have to be diverted to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.

HIV/Aids is having a devastating impact on families, communities, societies and economies. Decades have been chopped from life expectancy and young child mortality is expected to more than double in the most severely affected countries of Africa. AIDS is clearly a disaster, effectively wiping out the development gains of the past decades and sabotaging the future.

And as you said in one of your statements, women and children are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa. Your concentration on these two vulnerable sectors of society represents informed and rational acts of compassion.

Women are the bedrock of a society and children are our future. Education is a crucial part of the battle against HIV/AIDS. For women in Africa to be a major focus of that educational drive is also to ensure that the education is being further transmitted in family context.

One of the most tragic aspects, and therefore one of the greatest challenges, is the suffering of women and children with AIDS. The human and material resources of communities and societies are severely tested by the demands of caring for women and children with AIDS. A concerted effort is required to respond to this human tragedy on a broad scale.

Your actions, in reaching out to communities in Africa, demonstrate once more the spirit of human solidarity and partnership that transcends boundaries of nations, continents, backgrounds and creeds. In a world where divisions so often threaten to keep us apart and in conflict, these sincere acts of human solidarity serve to remind us of our common humanity.

This is our first visit to the United States after the terrible events of 11 September and we cannot conclude an evening like this without expressing our profound sympathy and condolences with the American people and particularly those who lost relatives, loved ones and friends in the tragedy.

The entire world was shocked by the brutality of those events. We were again reminded of the level to which human beings can sink in their inhumanity to others.

One source of encouragement was that almost the entire world responded with utter revulsion to those cowardly acts that cruelly and horrendously took the lives of so many innocent people merely going about their ordinary daily lives. Amidst the indescribable tragedy the overwhelming decency of human beings the world over found expression in the unreserved condemnation of those terrible deeds of cruelty.

It is that common human decency that we should tap into as we set about ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism. We must, in addition to any immediate actions, work for the long-term solution of the conflicts and problems that beset our world. We must create a world where there is equality of opportunity and dignity for all the people of our planet.

The efforts of these two Foundations and all who supported it are demonstrations of that spirit of reaching out to make the world a better and a safer place for all. It is my great honour to have been associated with those efforts.

I thank you.

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




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