Item 1490 - Speech Delivered by Hon. Vice President Nelson Mandela to the Swedish Parliament

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ZA COM MR-S-1490


Speech Delivered by Hon. Vice President Nelson Mandela to the Swedish Parliament


  • 1990-03-16 (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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  • English

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Mr Prime Minister
Members of the Swedish Government
Distinguished guests and
The good people of Sweden

I greet you in the name of all the pro-democracy forces of South Africa. I also greet you in the name of thousands of innocent people who paid with their lives in the struggle for humanity.

My delegation and I have now reached the end of our five country tour. Tomorrow we set foot once again on apartheid soil. But we return with the firm knowledge that the struggle against apartheid is truly a worldwide struggle for humanity. The response of the Swedish people to our visit is testimony to this. It is as significant for mankind as the struggle against slavery was.

Before I go any further, I wish to pay respects, on my behalf and on behalf of the liberation movement to a man who seemed as an example to all f us. A man whom we consider to be a true freedom fighter. The death of Prime Minister Olaf Palme was a powerful blow to those of us in the apartheid jails who shared his ideals. The world has lost a giant. I call on you to rise and join us in a moment’s silence in memory of this great man.

My tour to some of the frontline states was a moving and emotional experience. I saw with my own eyes the pain and suffering of people who, after years of colonialism, now experience apartheid destabilisation.

The principled and unwavering anti-apartheid stand taken by those countries has been at great cost to themselves. They continue to suffer economic hardship, death and destruction. There is no comparable example in history where so many countries pay such a high price for someone else’s freedom.

I was struck by the sight of so many citizens of these countries expressing support for our cause. In all the countries we visited including Sweden, we were heartened to see that the anti-apartheid policies of the governments have the full backing of the people. I salute you, the good people of Sweden. I embrace you as my brothers and sisters, my children and grandchildren!

We are encouraged by the increasing interest in the building of democracy by the people of Europe. It is now becoming clear to the world that the building of democracy is a continuous process. There is no limit to which it can be enriched. In the South African struggle, we intend involving the ordinary man and woman of our nation in decision making every inch of the way in the creation of a new democratic South Africa. It is for this reason that we insist that the South African government takes certain steps before any negotiations between it and the liberation movement begins. We insist that all political prisoners be released- we insist that the state of emergency and other repressive legislation be suspended.
It is only when these conditions are met that we can ensure that that very process which ushers in a democratic South Africa is itself democratic.

The great lesson of our time is that no regime, whatever its ideological orientation, can survive if it acts above the heads of the ordinary citizens of the country. Another great lesson of our time is that the ordinary man and woman who walk the streets and plough the fields are not married to ideologies or faiths. The ordinary people of the East and the West and of Africa and Europe, all share the same visions. They all dream of decent housing, jobs for all, a living wage, relevant education, peace the opportunity to appreciate nature, an end to racial and sexual discrimination, and the opportunity to develop their creative potentialities.

We hope and pray that at the end of the 199’s, we would be able to look back and say that it was indeed a decade of the people. Yes, it should not be a decade of kinds, generals, presidents and leaders of liberation movements. We want the future of the world to be in the hands of the men and women who walk our streets. No policy- no matter how brilliant it is- is correct if it cannot understood by the masses. A policy which does not appeal to the common sense of ordinary people is a bad policy.

It is because of the concerns of millions of ordinary people here in Europe and elsewhere that the threat of a nuclear war is beginning to recede. We fully support the struggle for the dismantling of nuclear so that the threat of war becomes even more remote.

The destruction of the environment is another important issue the ordinary people have succeeded in highlighting today, apartheid is destroying the southern African environment. For us in the African National Congress, the struggle against apartheid cannot be separated from the struggle to protect the environment.

Friends, some of my colleagues and I have been released from prison- but the struggle against apartheid still remain intact. However, there are sign that the apartheid system is about to crumble, we need to increase all forms of pressure. Inside South Africa mass action is taking place on a scale greater than ever. We call on the international community to intensify the sanctions campaign. When the water is about to boil, it is foolish to turn the heat off.

In conclusion, we wish to thank the people of Sweden and all other Nordic countries for the steadfast support you have given us over the years. Your actions in building a powerful bond between the people of the most northern point of Europe and those of the most southern part of Africa. We hope that in the future, this friendship would contribute to once again linking Europe to Africa- but this time Europeans will go to Africa as friends an not as colonial masters.

Thank you.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation. Accessioned on 2012-06-26 by Kelsey Duinkerken




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