Nelson Mandela dead: Former president's famous speeches and letters
‘The struggle is my life’, press statement 26 June 1961
I am informed that a warrant for my arrest has been issued, and that the police are looking for me. I will not give myself up to a government I do not recognise. I have had to separate myself from my dear wife and children, from my mother and sisters, to live as an outlaw in my own land.
I have had to close my business, to abandon my profession, and live in poverty and misery, as many of my people are doing. I shall fight the government side by side with you, inch by inch, and mile by mile, until victory is won.
What are you going to do? Will you come along with us, or are you going to co-operate with the government in its efforts to suppress the claims and aspirations of your own people? Or are you going to remain silent and neutral in a matter of life and death to my people, to our people?
For my own part I have made my choice. I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won.
The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.
‘I am prepared to die’: Nelson Mandela's statement from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the Rivonia Trial Pretoria Supreme Court, 20 April 1964
The lack of human dignity experienced by Africans is the direct result of the policy of white supremacy.
White supremacy implies black inferiority. Legislation designed to preserve white supremacy entrenches this notion…Because of this sort of attitude, whites tend to regard Africans as a separate breed.
They do not look upon them as people with families of their own; they do not realize that they have emotions - that they fall in love like white people do; that they want to be with their wives and children like white people want to be with theirs; that they want to earn enough money to support their families properly, to feed and clothe them and send them to school. And what 'house-boy' or 'garden-boy' or labourer can ever hope to do this?
Poverty and the breakdown of family life have secondary effects….Life in the townships is dangerous. There is not a day that goes by without somebody being stabbed or assaulted. And violence is carried out of the townships in the white living areas.
People are afraid to walk alone in the streets after dark. We want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy.
During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
NELSON MANDELA'S ADDRESS TO RALLY IN CAPE TOWN ON HIS RELEASE FROM PRISON, 11 February 1990
Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans.
I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all.
I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.
On this day of my release, I extend my sincere and warmest gratitude to the millions of my compatriots and those in every corner of the globe who have campaigned tirelessly for my release….
Today the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognise that apartheid has no future.
Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way. Universal suffrage on a common voters' role in a united democratic and non-racial South Africa is the only way to peace and racial harmony.
NELSON MANDELA'S WEMBLEY SPEECH, London, Monday 16 April 1990
Master of Ceremonies, Distinguished artists, Members of the International Reception Committee, Dear friends here and elsewhere in the world:
Our first simple and happy task is to say thank you. Thank you very much to you all. Thank you that you chose to care, because you could have decided otherwise. Thank you that you elected not to forget, because our fate could have been a passing concern.
We are here today because for almost three decades you sustained a campaign for the unconditional release of all South African political prisoners. We are here because you took the humane decision that you could not ignore the inhumanity represented by the apartheid system.
Even through the thickness of the prison walls at Robben Island, Pollsmoor, Victor Verster, Pretoria, Kroonstad, Diepkloof and elsewhere, we heard your voices demanding our freedom. During all the days we spent buried in the apartheid dungeons, we never lost our confidence in the certainty of our release and our victory over the apartheid system. This was because we knew that not even the hard-hearted men of Pretoria could withstand the enormous strength represented by the concerted effort of the peoples of South Africa and the rest of the world…
We thank you especially for what you did to mark our 70th birthday.
What you did then made it possible for us all to do what we are doing here today.
Dear friends, it will not be long now before we see the end of the apartheid system. The dreams of millions of people to see our country free and at peace will be realised sooner rather than later.
We are determined to ensure that our country is transformed from being the skunk of the world into an exemplary oasis of unrivalled and excellent race relations, democracy for all, a just peace and freedom from poverty and human degradation.
Let us continue to march forward together for the realisation of that glorious vision. It will be a proud day for all humanity when we are all able to say that the apartheid crime against humanity is no more.
Then shall we all converge on the cities, towns and villages of South Africa to celebrate that moment when by ending the system of white minority domination, humanity will have ensured that never again shall the scourge of racial tyranny raise its ugly head.
You will all be welcome to attend those historic victory celebrations.
SPEECH BY NELSON MANDELA ANNOUNCING THE ANC ELECTION VICTORY, Carlton Hotel, Johannesburg, 2 May 1994
My fellow South Africans - the people of South Africa: This is indeed a joyous night. Although not yet final, we have received the provisional results of the election, and are delighted by the overwhelming support for the African National Congress.
To all those in the African National Congress and the democratic movement who worked so hard these last few days and through these many decades, I thank you and honour you. To the people of
South Africa and the world who are watching: this a joyous night for the human spirit. This is your victory too. You helped end apartheid, you stood with us through the transition.
I watched, along with all of you, as the tens of thousands of our people stood patiently in long queues for many hours.
Some sleeping on the open ground overnight waiting to cast this momentous vote.
South Africa's heroes are legend across the generations. But it is you, the people, who are our true heroes.
This is one of the most important moments in the life of our country.
I stand here before you filled with deep pride and joy: - pride in the ordinary, humble people of this country. You have shown such a calm, patient determination to rectal this country as your own.- and joy that we can loudly proclaim from the rooftops - free at last!
I stand before you humbled by your courage, with a heart full of love for all of you. I regard it as the highest honour to lead the ANC at this moment in our history, and that we have been chosen to lead our country into the new century.
Tomorrow, the entire ANC leadership and I will be back at our desks.
We are rolling up our sleeves to begin tackling the problems our country faces. We ask you all to join us - go back to your jobs in the morning. Let's get South Africa working.…
Now is the time for celebration, for South Africans to join together to celebrate the birth of democracy. I raise a glass to you all for working so hard to achieve what can only be called a small miracle.
Let our celebrations be in keeping with the mood set in the elections, peaceful, respectful and disciplined, showing we are a people ready to assume the responsibilities of government.
I promise that I will do my best to be worthy of the faith and confidence you have placed in me and my organisation, the African National Congress. Let us build the future together, and toast a betterlife for all South Africans.
NELSON MANDELA'S ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF CAPE TOWN, GRAND PARADE, ON THE OCCASION OF HIS INAUGURATION AS STATE PRESIDENT, Cape Town, 9 May 1994
Mr Master of Ceremonies, Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, My Fellow South Africans: Today we are entering a new era for our country and its people.
Today we celebrate not the victory of a party, but a victory for all the people of South Africa.
Our country has arrived at a decision.
The South Africa we have struggled for, in which all our people, be they African, Coloured, Indian or White, regard themselves as citizens of one nation is at hand.
Perhaps it was history that ordained that it be here, at the Cape of Good Hope that we should lay the foundation stone of our new nation. For it was here at this Cape, over three centuries ago, that there began the fateful convergence of the peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia on these shores.
It was to this peninsula that the patriots, among them many princes and scholars, of Indonesia were dragged in chains. It was on the sandy plains of this peninsula that first battles of the epic wars of resistance were fought.
When we look out across Table Bay, the horizon is dominated by Robben Island, whose infamy as a dungeon built to stifle the spirit of freedom is as old as colonialism in South Africa.
For three centuries that island was seen as a place to which outcasts can be banished.
The names of those who were incarcerated on Robben Island is a roll call of resistance fighters and democrats spanning over three centuries. If indeed this is a Cape of Good Hope, that hope owes much to the spirit of that legion of fighters and others of their calibre.
We have fought for a democratic constitution since the 1880s. Ours has been a quest for a constitution freely adopted by the people of South Africa, reflecting their wishes and their aspirations.
The struggle for democracy has never been a matter pursued by one race, class, religious community or gender among South Africans.
In honouring those who fought to see this day arrive, we honour the best sons and daughters of all our people.
We can count amongst them Africans, Coloureds, Whites, Indians, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews - all of them united by a common vision of a better life for the people of this country.
The task at hand on will not be easy. But you have mandated us to change South Africa from a country in which the majority lived with little hope, to one in which they can live and work with dignity, with a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the future.
To raise our country and its people from the morass of racism and apartheid will require determination and effort.
We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.
A letter from Nelson Mandela to Daily Mirror readers, July 2 2005
Dear Mirror Reader,
Today we live in a world that remains divided. A world in which we have made great progress and advances in science and technology.
But it is also a world where millions of children die because they have no access to medicines.
We live in a world where knowledge and information have made enormous strides, yet millions of children are not in school.
We live in a world where the Aids pandemic threatens the very fabric of our lives. Yet we spend more money on weapons than on ensuring treatment and support for the millions infected by HIV. It is a worldof great promise and hope. It is also a world of despair, disease and hunger.
Millions of people in the world's poorest countries are trapped in the prison of poverty.
It is time to set them free.
Poverty is not natural, it is man-made and can be overcome by the action of human beings.
The leaders of the world's richest countries - who meet at the G8 summit in Scotland next week - have already promised to focus on the issue of poverty, especially in Africa.
The steps they must take to bring this about are very clear and the first is ensuring trade justice.
The second is an end to the debt crisis for the poorest countries.
The third is to deliver much more aid and to make sure it is of the highest quality.
I say to all those leaders - do not look the other way, do not hesitate.
Recognise that the world is hungry for action not words.
You too have the opportunity to tell them that they must act with courage and vision.
Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great.
You can be that great generation.
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