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Nelson Mandela’s Epic Speeches That Will Give You Hope

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UPDATED: 8:30 a.m. ET, July 18, 2022:

E very so often a man or woman with an immense propensity for hope leaves a lasting impression on the world. Nelson Mandela personified hope. The outspoken civil rights leader spent 27 years in prison, but never once lost his passion for the causes in his heart.  

Mandela is a true international hero and his accomplishments have made the world a better place for people of color.

As the world celebrates Nelson Mandela Day — also known as the first Black South African president’s birthday — it’s only right to pay homage to how the freedom-fighting former political prisoner, Madiba, had a way with words. So many of his epic speeches gave their listeners hope, an effect that still lasts to this day.

One of the many things African students — and people worldwide — can look to for inspiration is the many quotes that Mandela has provided us with. But it wasn’t always that way.

In an attempt to silence the popular lawyer and African National Congress (ANC) activist, Mandela was arrested and acquitted of treason in 1961. The following year, he was arrested for illegally leaving South Africa. It was in 1964, however, that Mandela’s fortunes would turn for the worse.

RELATED: A Timeline Of Nelson Mandela’s Life

Mandela and other ANC leaders were sentenced to life for attempting to overthrow the government . Serving 18 of his 27 years behind bars in the harsh Robben Island prison just outside of Cape Town, the authorities tried to break Mandela’s spirit with hard labor and other forms of ill-treatment. Correspondence with the outside world was scarce, as Mandela was only allowed to receive and write a letter once every six months.

Throughout his imprisonment, Mandela’s fame rose as the spiritual leader in stamping out apartheid. He became known for staging protests and radicalizing other Black prisoners at Robben Island. Eventually, his disturbances sparked prison officials to improve the conditions. Mandela was moved to a different location and eventually put on house arrest. In 1985, Mandela was offered a chance at freedom by then-President P.W. Botha — but only if he would renounce his militancy. In pure defiance, Mandela rejected the offer.

Nelson Mandela Attends ANC Victory March

Source: Gallo Images / Getty

When P.W. Botha suffered a stroke in 1989, it gave way for Frederik Willem de Klerk to replace him in the post. Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC and related anti-apartheid groups in 1990, announcing that he would free Nelson Mandela. As he left Victor Verster Prison on this day in 1990, Mandela would address the nation with measurable humility and stern resolve.

Here is a brief excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s rally speech in Cape Town on the day of his release from prison:

Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. We call on our people to seize this moment so that the process towards democracy is rapid and uninterrupted. We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a mistake, which generations to come will not be able to forgive. The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts.

As the world still mourns the loss and celebrates the gift of his life, check out some of Madiba’s most powerful speeches.

1. Speech At His Trial For Sabotage — He Was Sentenced To Life In Prison (1964)

2. speech after being released from prison (1990), 3. nelson mandela first address to a joint meeting of the u.s. congress (1990), 4. president nelson mandela inauguration speech (1994), 5. mandela’s final speech in sa national chambers (1999), 6. nelson mandela at harvard (1998), 7. laureus world sports awards in monaco (2000).


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Great speeches: Nelson Mandela

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An ideal for which I am prepared to die

A triumph over indifference, an ideal for which i am prepared to die - part 1, an ideal for which i am prepared to die - part 2, great speeches of the 20th century life terms all round in mandela trial, great speeches of the 20th century mandela planned sabotage in struggle for emancipation.

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Moments in history

A legacy in speeches: remembering nelson mandela 10 years after his death.

Ashley Montgomery

famous speeches nelson mandela

Anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela delivers a policy statement in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Jan. 8, 1994. Mandela called on all South Africans to pledge themselves to peace. Later that year, Mandela became South Africa's first Black president. Walter Dhladhla/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

Anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela delivers a policy statement in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Jan. 8, 1994. Mandela called on all South Africans to pledge themselves to peace. Later that year, Mandela became South Africa's first Black president.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela actively protested apartheid for most of his life, and he is known for being one of the world's most famous political prisoners.

His anti-apartheid activism never faltered: He delivered speeches, wrote letters while imprisoned and, after his release, negotiated with South African government officials to end apartheid in the 1990s.

Here are excerpts from some of his most memorable speeches.

1964: Rivonia Trial

On April 20, 1964, Mandela stands on trial in Pretoria, South Africa.

He has been charged with sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the state.

At 45 years old, Mandela is a part of the African National Congress (ANC), a group advocating for Black rights. The ANC is considered the oldest liberation movement in Africa, and Mandela is a member of its armed wing.

As part of the ANC, Mandela has led protests and workers strikes , and now he's on trial. Mandela stands before the Supreme Court of South Africa during the Rivonia Trial and delivers an impassioned speech about a brutal system of legalized racism that's tearing his country apart.

"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 we have emotions — that we fall in love like white people do; that we want to be with our wives and children like white people want to be with theirs; that we want to earn money, enough money to support our families properly, to feed and clothe them and send them to school."

Remembering Nelson Mandela's Pivotal Moment

Radio Diaries

Remembering nelson mandela's pivotal moment.

Unearthing Lost Mandela Audio, Giving Voice To Lost Stories

Unearthing Lost Mandela Audio, Giving Voice To Lost Stories

When the National Party assumed power in 1948, it marked the beginning of legalized racism in South Africa — apartheid . In addition to restrictions on where nonwhite South Africans could live and work, apartheid also made political protest against the government illegal .

Mandela talks for nearly four hours about the harsh restrictions of living under apartheid.

"Africans want to be paid a living wage. Africans want to perform work which they are capable of doing and not work which the government declares them to be capable of. We want to be allowed to live where we obtain work and not be endorsed out of an area because we were not born there."

Even as he faces life in prison, Mandela continues his cause for social justice in front of the court.

"We want to be allowed out after 11 o'clock at night and not to be confined to our rooms like little children. We want to be allowed to travel in our own country and to seek work where we want to and not where the Labour Bureau tells us to. We want a just share in the whole of South Africa; we want security and a stake in society."

This speech establishes Nelson Mandela as the voice of the anti-apartheid movement , with the most memorable line at the end:

"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an idea for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, my Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Less than two months after his speech, Mandela and 19 others are convicted . Most of them are sent to Robben Island prison near Cape Town.

Mandela is sentenced to life and becomes one of the world's most famous political prisoners. For years, he's kept in a tiny, 7-by-9-foot jail cell .

He does hard labor by day — crushing stones into gravel in a limestone quarry. And he spends time studying philosophy and political theory . Mandela writes letters about civil disobedience and pursues a University of London degree via correspondence .

Meanwhile, violence continues to escalate across South Africa — the nation's economy and reputation suffer. The United Nations leads the call for sanctions against the country. With the passing of the U.S. Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986, many multinational companies leave South Africa.

The white government does not allow photos of Mandela or recordings of his voice, yet his stature continues to grow while he remains behind bars. Protests against apartheid and Mandela's imprisonment are held across the world, in South Africa , the U.K. and the United States . The apartheid system faces increasing international criticism, and South Africa grows more and more isolated.

1990: Cape Town's City Hall

On Feb. 11, 1990, after years-long government negotiations and spending time in two additional prisons , Mandela is released after 27 years.

Just hours after he is free, Mandela delivers his first public address at Cape Town's City Hall.

famous speeches nelson mandela

On Feb. 11, 1990, in Cape Town, South Africa, Mandela delivers his first public speech since his release from prison. Behind him is his then-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Walter Dhladhla/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

On Feb. 11, 1990, in Cape Town, South Africa, Mandela delivers his first public speech since his release from prison. Behind him is his then-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Mandela greets the packed crowd of over 100,000 Black South Africans: "Comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you the people."

At age 71, Mandela's hair is graying, and he's wearing his wife's large glasses because he accidentally left his own at the prison.

It has been almost three decades since he has delivered a speech like this, but his cause for his country remains the same.

"Today, the majority of South Africans, Black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our decisive mass action... We have waited too long for our freedom."

The Day Nelson Mandela Walked Out Of Prison

The Day Nelson Mandela Walked Out Of Prison

In addition to Mandela and his fellow ANC prisoners' release, the white government announces a package of reforms that include lifting the ban on the African National Congress and other Black groups .

Mandela leads the negotiations with the government to end apartheid.

1994: South Africa's presidential inauguration

Decades of activism, protests, boycotts and economic pressures dismantle the brutal apartheid regime in the early 1990s . For his negotiation efforts to end apartheid, Mandela shares the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with National Party President F.W. de Klerk.

In 1994, South Africa holds its first democratic election .

The African National Congress wins over 62% of the vote .

Nelson Mandela is elected president of South Africa , the country's first Black president.

famous speeches nelson mandela

Nelson Mandela takes the oath during his presidential inauguration on May 10, 1994, in Pretoria. He is South Africa's first Black president. Walter Dhladhla/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

Nelson Mandela takes the oath during his presidential inauguration on May 10, 1994, in Pretoria. He is South Africa's first Black president.

During his inaugural address, Mandela promises continued progress for the country.

"Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom ring. God bless Africa."

Mandela supports social and economic equality and restores the country's international standing.

1999: Final presidential address to South Africa's Parliament

Mandela serves as president for five years .

In his final presidential address to the South African Parliament, in March 1999 , Mandela reflects on his country's fight for racial justice and reconciliation.

"To the extent that I have been able to take our country forward to this new era, it is because I am the product of the people of the world who have cherished the vision of a better life for all people everywhere. They insisted, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, that that vision should be realized in South Africa too. They gave us hope."

His fellow lawmakers give Mandela a standing ovation and serenade him with chants of "Nelson Mandela."

famous speeches nelson mandela

South African President Nelson Mandela smiles as he receives a standing ovation after making his final address to Parliament on March 26, 1999. Anna Zieminski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

South African President Nelson Mandela smiles as he receives a standing ovation after making his final address to Parliament on March 26, 1999.

He decides not to run for a second term but supports the prosperity of the nation through the Nelson Mandela Foundation .

Mandela's Graceful Departure A Hallmark Of His Presidency

On Dec. 5, 2013 — 10 years ago today — Nelson Mandela died from a prolonged lung infection .

Mourners around the world paid their respects. Mandela's memorial service was held on Dec. 10 in a soccer stadium in Johannesburg. More than 50,000 people gathered in the pouring rain.

People around the world still turn to Mandela's message of self-sacrifice and hope.

Nelson Mandela: An Audio History

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Nelson mandela: an audio history.

Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95

Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95

  • South Africa
  • Nelson Mandela

clock This article was published more than  10 years ago

Read the most important speech Nelson Mandela ever gave

Nelson Mandela was already 45 years old when, on April 20, 1964, he gave the defining speech of the anti-Apartheid movement, from the dock of a Pretoria courtroom. Mandela had been in prison for two years already, for inciting workers to strike, when he was put on the stand again as part of the Rivonia Trials. Named for the Johannesburg suburb where South African police had arrested 19 ANC leaders, the trials were meant to be a blow against the group. But Mandela, charged with three counts of sabotage, seized the moment to speak directly to South Africa and the world. What began as a statement by an accused prison became, over the 29 minutes it took Mandela to deliver it, his best known and most important speech. It was a recounting of his story up to that point, an expression of his views and a morally forceful argument on behalf of his cause. You will surely know it from the final lines:

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.

But the speech must be read in full. The complete transcript, via a United Nations page, is below. You can also listen to the speech here . One and a half months later, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. He was not freed until 1990, and in 1994 was elected president. I am the First Accused.

I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Arts and practised as an attorney in Johannesburg for a number of years in partnership with Oliver Tambo. I am a convicted prisoner serving five years for leaving the country without a permit and for inciting people to go on strike at the end of May 1961.

At the outset, I want to say that the suggestion made by the State in its opening that the struggle in South Africa is under the influence of foreigners or communists is wholly incorrect. I have done whatever I did, both as an individual and as a leader of my people, because of my experience in South Africa and my own proudly felt African background, and not because of what any outsider might have said.

In my youth in the Transkei I listened to the elders of my tribe telling stories of the old days. Amongst the tales they related to me were those of wars fought by our ancestors in defence of the fatherland. The names of Dingane and Bambata, Hintsa and Makana, Squngthi and Dalasile, Moshoeshoe and Sekhukhuni, were praised as the glory of the entire African nation. I hoped then that life might offer me the opportunity to serve my people and make my own humble contribution to their freedom struggle. This is what has motivated me in all that I have done in relation to the charges made against me in this case.

Having said this, I must deal immediately and at some length with the question of violence. Some of the things so far told to the Court are true and some are untrue. I do not, however, deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by the Whites.

I admit immediately that I was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto we Sizwe, and that I played a prominent role in its affairs until I was arrested in August 1962.

In the statement which I am about to make I shall correct certain false impressions which have been created by State witnesses. Amongst other things, I will demonstrate that certain of the acts referred to in the evidence were not and could not have been committed by Umkhonto. I will also deal with the relationship between the African National Congress and Umkhonto, and with the part which I personally have played in the affairs of both organizations. I shall deal also with the part played by the Communist Party. In order to explain these matters properly, I will have to explain what Umkhonto set out to achieve; what methods it prescribed for the achievement of these objects, and why these methods were chosen. I will also have to explain how I became involved in the activities of these organizations.

I deny that Umkhonto was responsible for a number of acts which clearly fell outside the policy of the organisation, and which have been charged in the indictment against us. I do not know what justification there was for these acts, but to demonstrate that they could not have been authorized by Umkhonto, I want to refer briefly to the roots and policy of the organization.

I have already mentioned that I was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto. I, and the others who started the organization, did so for two reasons. Firstly, we believed that as a result of Government policy, violence by the African people had become inevitable, and that unless responsible leadership was given to canalize and control the feelings of our people, there would be outbreaks of terrorism which would produce an intensity of bitterness and hostility between the various races of this country which is not produced even by war. Secondly, we felt that without violence there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the Government. We chose to defy the law. We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the Government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence.

But the violence which we chose to adopt was not terrorism. We who formed Umkhonto were all members of the African National Congress, and had behind us the ANC tradition of non-violence and negotiation as a means of solving political disputes. We believe that South Africa belongs to all the people who live in it, and not to one group, be it black or white. We did not want an interracial war, and tried to avoid it to the last minute. If the Court is in doubt about this, it will be seen that the whole history of our organization bears out what I have said, and what I will subsequently say, when I describe the tactics which Umkhonto decided to adopt. I want, therefore, to say something about the African National Congress.

The African National Congress was formed in 1912 to defend the rights of the African people which had been seriously curtailed by the South Africa Act, and which were then being threatened by the Native Land Act. For thirty-seven years - that is until 1949 - it adhered strictly to a constitutional struggle. It put forward demands and resolutions; it sent delegations to the Government in the belief that African grievances could be settled through peaceful discussion and that Africans could advance gradually to full political rights. But White Governments remained unmoved, and the rights of Africans became less instead of becoming greater. In the words of my leader, Chief Lutuli, who became President of the ANC in 1952, and who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize:

"who will deny that thirty years of my life have been spent knocking in vain, patiently, moderately, and modestly at a closed and barred door? What have been the fruits of moderation? The past thirty years have seen the greatest number of laws restricting our rights and progress, until today we have reached a stage where we have almost no rights at all".

Even after 1949, the ANC remained determined to avoid violence. At this time, however, there was a change from the strictly constitutional means of protest which had been employed in the past. The change was embodied in a decision which was taken to protest against apartheid legislation by peaceful, but unlawful, demonstrations against certain laws. Pursuant to this policy the ANC launched the Defiance Campaign, in which I was placed in charge of volunteers. This campaign was based on the principles of passive resistance. More than 8,500 people defied apartheid laws and went to jail. Yet there was not a single instance of violence in the course of this campaign on the part of any defier. I and nineteen colleagues were convicted for the role which we played in organizing the campaign, but our sentences were suspended mainly because the Judge found that discipline and non-violence had been stressed throughout. This was the time when the volunteer section of the ANC was established, and when the word 'Amadelakufa' 1 was first used: this was the time when the volunteers were asked to take a pledge to uphold certain principles. Evidence dealing with volunteers and their pledges has been introduced into this case, but completely out of context. The volunteers were not, and are not, the soldiers of a black army pledged to fight a civil war against the whites. They were, and are. dedicated workers who are prepared to lead campaigns initiated by the ANC to distribute leaflets, to organize strikes, or do whatever the particular campaign required. They are called volunteers because they volunteer to face the penalties of imprisonment and whipping which are now prescribed by the legislature for such acts.

During the Defiance Campaign, the Public Safety Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act were passed. These Statutes provided harsher penalties for offences committed by way of protests against laws. Despite this, the protests continued and the ANC adhered to its policy of non-violence. In 1956, 156 leading members of the Congress Alliance, including myself, were arrested on a charge of high treason and charges under the Suppression of Communism Act. The non-violent policy of the ANC was put in issue by the State, but when the Court gave judgement some five years later, it found that the ANC did not have a policy of violence. We were acquitted on all counts, which included a count that the ANC sought to set up a communist state in place of the existing regime. The Government has always sought to label all its opponents as communists. This allegation has been repeated in the present case, but as I will show, the ANC is not, and never has been, a communist organization.

In 1960 there was the shooting at Sharpeville, which resulted in the proclamation of a state of emergency and the declaration of the ANC as an unlawful organization. My colleagues and I, after careful consideration, decided that we would not obey this decree. The African people were not part of the Government and did not make the laws by which they were governed. We believed in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that 'the will of the people shall be the basis of authority of the Government', and for us to accept the banning was equivalent to accepting the silencing of the Africans for all time. The ANC refused to dissolve, but instead went underground. We believed it was our duty to preserve this organization which had been built up with almost fifty years of unremitting toil. I have no doubt that no self-respecting White political organization would disband itself if declared illegal by a government in which it had no say.

In 1960 the Government held a referendum which led to the establishment of the Republic. Africans, who constituted approximately 70 per cent of the population of South Africa, were not entitled to vote, and were not even consulted about the proposed constitutional change. All of us were apprehensive of our future under the proposed White Republic, and a resolution was taken to hold an All-In African Conference to call for a National Convention, and to organize mass demonstrations on the eve of the unwanted Republic, if the Government failed to call the Convention. The conference was attended by Africans of various political persuasions. I was the Secretary of the conference and undertook to be responsible for organizing the national stay-at-home which was subsequently called to coincide with the declaration of the Republic. As all strikes by Africans are illegal, the person organizing such a strike must avoid arrest. I was chosen to be this person, and consequently I had to leave my home and family and my practice and go into hiding to avoid arrest.

The stay-at-home, in accordance with ANC policy, was to be a peaceful demonstration. Careful instructions were given to organizers and members to avoid any recourse to violence. The Government's answer was to introduce new and harsher laws, to mobilize its armed forces, and to send Saracens,2 armed vehicles, and soldiers into the townships in a massive show of force designed to intimidate the people. This was an indication that the Government had decided to rule by force alone, and this decision was a milestone on the road to Umkhonto.

Some of this may appear irrelevant to this trial. In fact, I believe none of it is irrelevant because it will, I hope, enable the Court to appreciate the attitude eventually adopted by the various persons and bodies concerned in the National Liberation Movement. When I went to jail in 1962, the dominant idea was that loss of life should be avoided. I now know that this was still so in 1963.

I must return to June 1961. What were we, the leaders of our people, to do? Were we to give in to the show of force and the implied threat against future action, or were we to fight it and, if so, how?

We had no doubt that we had to continue the fight. Anything else would have been abject surrender. Our problem was not whether to fight, but was how to continue the fight. We of the ANC had always stood for a non-racial democracy, and we shrank from any action which might drive the races further apart than they already were. But the hard facts were that fifty years of non-violence had brought the African people nothing but more and more repressive legislation, and fewer and fewer rights. It may not be easy for this Court to understand, but it is a fact that for a long time the people had been talking of violence - of the day when they would fight the White man and win back their country - and we, the leaders of the ANC, had nevertheless always prevailed upon them to avoid violence and to pursue peaceful methods. When some of us discussed this in May and June of 1961, it could not be denied that our policy to achieve a nonracial State by non-violence had achieved nothing, and that our followers were beginning to lose confidence in this policy and were developing disturbing ideas of terrorism.

It must not be forgotten that by this time violence had, in fact, become a feature of the South African political scene. There had been violence in 1957 when the women of Zeerust were ordered to carry passes; there was violence in 1958 with the enforcement of cattle culling in Sekhukhuniland; there was violence in 1959 when the people of Cato Manor protested against pass raids; there was violence in 1960 when the Government attempted to impose Bantu Authorities in Pondoland. Thirty-nine Africans died in these disturbances. In 1961 there had been riots in Warmbaths, and all this time the Transkei had been a seething mass of unrest. Each disturbance pointed clearly to the inevitable growth among Africans of the belief that violence was the only way out - it showed that a Government which uses force to maintain its rule teaches the oppressed to use force to oppose it. Already small groups had arisen in the urban areas and were spontaneously making plans for violent forms of political struggle. There now arose a danger that these groups would adopt terrorism against Africans, as well as Whites, if not properly directed. Particularly disturbing was the type of violence engendered in places such as Zeerust, Sekhukhuniland, and Pondoland amongst Africans. It was increasingly taking the form, not of struggle against the Government - though this is what prompted it -but of civil strife amongst themselves, conducted in such a way that it could not hope to achieve anything other than a loss of life and bitterness.

At the beginning of June 1961, after a long and anxious assessment of the South African situation, I, and some colleagues, came to the conclusion that as violence in this country was inevitable, it would be unrealistic and wrong for African leaders to continue preaching peace and non-violence at a time when the Government met our peaceful demands with force.

This conclusion was not easily arrived at. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle, and to form Umkhonto we Sizwe. We did so not because we desired such a course, but solely because the Government had left us with no other choice. In the Manifesto of Umkhonto published on 16 December 1961, which is Exhibit AD, we said:

"The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices - submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom".

This was our feeling in June of 1961 when we decided to press for a change in the policy of the National Liberation Movement. I can only say that I felt morally obliged to do what I did.

We who had taken this decision started to consult leaders of various organizations, including the ANC. I will not say whom we spoke to, or what they said, but I wish to deal with the role of the African National Congress in this phase of the struggle, and with the policy and objectives of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

As far as the ANC was concerned, it formed a clear view which can be summarized as follows:

a. It was a mass political organization with a political function to fulfil. Its members had joined on the express policy of non-violence.

b. Because of all this, it could not and would not undertake violence. This must be stressed. One cannot turn such a body into the small, closely knit organization required for sabotage. Nor would this be politically correct, because it would result in members ceasing to carry out this essential activity: political propaganda and organization. Nor was it permissible to change the whole nature of the organization.

c. On the other hand, in view of this situation I have described, the ANC was prepared to depart from its fifty-year-old policy of non-violence to this extent that it would no longer disapprove of properly controlled violence. Hence members who undertook such activity would not be subject to disciplinary action by the ANC.

I say 'properly controlled violence' because I made it clear that if I formed the organization I would at all times subject it to the political guidance of the ANC and would not undertake any different form of activity from that contemplated without the consent of the ANC. And I shall now tell the Court how that form of violence came to be determined.

As a result of this decision, Umkhonto was formed in November 1961. When we took this decision, and subsequently formulated our plans, the ANC heritage of non-violence and racial harmony was very much with us. We felt that the country was drifting towards a civil war in which Blacks and Whites would fight each other. We viewed the situation with alarm. Civil war could mean the destruction of what the ANC stood for; with civil war, racial peace would be more difficult than ever to achieve. We already have examples in South African history of the results of war. It has taken more than fifty years for the scars of the South African War to disappear. How much longer would it take to eradicate the scars of inter-racial civil war, which could not be fought without a great loss of life on both sides?

The avoidance of civil war had dominated our thinking for many years, but when we decided to adopt violence as part of our policy, we realized that we might one day have to face the prospect of such a war. This had to be taken into account in formulating our plans. We required a plan which was flexible and which permitted us to act in accordance with the needs of the times; above all, the plan had to be one which recognized civil war as the last resort, and left the decision on this question to the future. We did not want to be committed to civil war, but we wanted to be ready if it became inevitable.

Four forms of violence were possible. There is sabotage, there is guerrilla warfare, there is terrorism, and there is open revolution. We chose to adopt the first method and to exhaust it before taking any other decision.

In the light of our political background the choice was a logical one. Sabotage did not involve loss of life, and it offered the best hope for future race relations. Bitterness would be kept to a minimum and, if the policy bore fruit, democratic government could become a reality. This is what we felt at the time, and this is what we said in our Manifesto (Exhibit AD):

"We of Umkhonto we Sizwe have always sought to achieve liberation without bloodshed and civil clash. We hope, even at this late hour, that our first actions will awaken everyone to a realization of the disastrous situation to which the Nationalist policy is leading. We hope that we will bring the Government and its supporters to their senses before it is too late, so that both the Government and its policies can be changed before matters reach the desperate state of civil war."

The initial plan was based on a careful analysis of the political and economic situation of our country. We believed that South Africa depended to a large extent on foreign capital and foreign trade. We felt that planned destruction of power plants, and interference with rail and telephone communications, would tend to scare away capital from the country, make it more difficult for goods from the industrial areas to reach the seaports on schedule, and would in the long run be a heavy drain on the economic life of the country, thus compelling the voters of the country to reconsider their position.

Attacks on the economic life lines of the country were to be linked with sabotage on Government buildings and other symbols of apartheid. These attacks would serve as a source of inspiration to our people. In addition, they would provide an outlet for those people who were urging the adoption of violent methods and would enable us to give concrete proof to our followers that we had adopted a stronger line and were fighting back against Government violence.

In addition, if mass action were successfully organized, and mass reprisals taken, we felt that sympathy for our cause would be roused in other countries, and that greater pressure would be brought to bear on the South African Government.

This then was the plan. Umkhonto was to perform sabotage, and strict instructions were given to its members right from the start, that on no account were they to injure or kill people in planning or carrying out operations. These instructions have been referred to in the evidence of 'Mr. X' and 'Mr. Z'. 3

The affairs of the Umkhonto were controlled and directed by a National High Command, which had powers of co-option and which could, and did, appoint Regional Commands. The High Command was the body which determined tactics and targets and was in charge of training and finance. Under the High Command there were Regional Commands which were responsible for the direction of the local sabotage groups. Within the framework of the policy laid down by the National High Command, the Regional Commands had authority to select the targets to be attacked. They had no authority to go beyond the prescribed framework and thus had no authority to embark upon acts which endangered life, or which did not fit into the overall plan of sabotage. For instance, Umkhonto members were forbidden ever to go armed into operation. Incidentally, the terms High Command and Regional Command were an importation from the Jewish national underground organization Irgun Zvai Leumi, which operated in Israel between 1944 and 1948.

Umkhonto had its first operation on 16 December 1961, when Government buildings in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban were attacked. The selection of targets is proof of the policy to which I have referred. Had we intended to attack life we would have selected targets where people congregated and not empty buildings and power stations. The sabotage which was committed before 16 December 1961 was the work of isolated groups and had no connection whatever with Umkhonto. In fact, some of these and a number of later acts were claimed by other organizations.

The Manifesto of Umkhonto was issued on the day that operations commenced. The response to our actions and Manifesto among the white population was characteristically violent. The Government threatened to take strong action, and called upon its supporters to stand firm and to ignore the demands of the Africans. The Whites failed to respond by suggesting change; they responded to our call by suggesting the laager.

In contrast, the response of the Africans was one of encouragement. Suddenly there was hope again. Things were happening. People in the townships became eager for political news. A great deal of enthusiasm was generated by the initial successes, and people began to speculate on how soon freedom would be obtained.

But we in Umkhonto weighed up the white response with anxiety. The lines were being drawn. The whites and blacks were moving into separate camps, and the prospects of avoiding a civil war were made less. The white newspapers carried reports that sabotage would be punished by death. If this was so, how could we continue to keep Africans away from terrorism?

Already scores of Africans had died as a result of racial friction. In 1920 when the famous leader, Masabala, was held in Port Elizabeth jail, twenty-four of a group of Africans who had gathered to demand his release were killed by the police and white civilians. In 1921, more than one hundred Africans died in the Bulhoek affair. In 1924 over two hundred Africans were killed when the Administrator of South-West Africa led a force against a group which had rebelled against the imposition of dog tax. On 1 May 1950, eighteen Africans died as a result of police shootings during the strike. On 21 March 1960, sixty-nine unarmed Africans died at Sharpeville.

How many more Sharpevilles would there be in the history of our country? And how many more Sharpevilles could the country stand without violence and terror becoming the order of the day? And what would happen to our people when that stage was reached? In the long run we felt certain we must succeed, but at what cost to ourselves and the rest of the country? And if this happened, how could black and white ever live together again in peace and harmony? These were the problems that faced us, and these were our decisions.

Experience convinced us that rebellion would offer the Government limitless opportunities for the indiscriminate slaughter of our people. But it was precisely because the soil of South Africa is already drenched with the blood of innocent Africans that we felt it our duty to make preparations as a long-term undertaking to use force in order to defend ourselves against force. If war were inevitable, we wanted the fight to be conducted on terms most favourable to our people. The fight which held out prospects best for us and the least risk of life to both sides was guerrilla warfare. We decided, therefore, in our preparations for the future, to make provision for the possibility of guerrilla warfare.

All whites undergo compulsory military training, but no such training was given to Africans. It was in our view essential to build up a nucleus of trained men who would be able to provide the leadership which would be required if guerrilla warfare started. We had to prepare for such a situation before it became too late to make proper preparations. It was also necessary to build up a nucleus of men trained in civil administration and other professions, so that Africans would be equipped to participate in the government of this country as soon as they were allowed to do so.

At this stage it was decided that I should attend the Conference of the Pan-African Freedom Movement for Central, East, and Southern Africa, which was to be held early in 1962 in Addis Ababa, and, because of our need for preparation, it was also decided that, after the conference, I would undertake a tour of the African States with a view to obtaining facilities for the training of soldiers, and that I would also solicit scholarships for the higher education of matriculated Africans. Training in both fields would be necessary, even if changes came about by peaceful means. Administrators would be necessary who would be willing and able to administer a non-racial State and so would men be necessary to control the army and police force of such a State.

It was on this note that I left South Africa to proceed to Addis Ababa as a delegate of the ANC. My tour was a success. Wherever I went I met sympathy for our cause and promises of help. All Africa was united against the stand of White South Africa, and even in London I was received with great sympathy by political leaders, such as Mr. Gaitskell and Mr. Grimond. In Africa I was promised support by such men as Julius Nyerere, now President of Tanganyika; Mr. Kawawa, then Prime Minister of Tanganyika; Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia; General Abboud, President of the Sudan; Habib Bourguiba, President of Tunisia; Ben Bella, now President of Algeria; Modibo Keita, President of Mali; Leopold Senghor, President of Senegal; Sekou Toure, President of Guinea; President Tubman of Liberia; and Milton Obote, Prime Minister of Uganda. It was Ben Bella who invited me to visit Oujda, the Headquarters of the Algerian Army of National Liberation, the visit which is described in my diary, one of the Exhibits.

I started to make a study of the art of war and revolution and, whilst abroad, underwent a course in military training. If there was to be guerrilla warfare, I wanted to be able to stand and fight with my people and to share the hazards of war with them. Notes of lectures which I received in Algeria are contained in Exhibit 16, produced in evidence. Summaries of books on guerrilla warfare and military strategy have also been produced. I have already admitted that these documents are in my writing, and I acknowledge that I made these studies to equip myself for the role which I might have to play if the struggle drifted into guerrilla warfare. I approached this question as every African Nationalist should do. I was completely objective. The Court will see that I attempted to examine all types of authority on the subject - from the East and from the West, going back to the classic work of Clausewitz, and covering such a variety as Mao Tse Tung and Che Guevara on the one hand, and the writings on the Anglo-Boer War on the other. Of course, these notes are merely summaries of the books I read and do not contain my personal views.

I also made arrangements for our recruits to undergo military training. But here it was impossible to organize any scheme without the co-operation of the ANC offices in Africa. I consequently obtained the permission of the ANC in South Africa to do this. To this extent then there was a departure from the original decision of the ANC, but it applied outside South Africa only. The first batch of recruits actually arrived in Tanganyika when I was passing through that country on my way back to South Africa.

I returned to South Africa and reported to my colleagues on the results of my trip. On my return I found that there had been little alteration in the political scene save that the threat of a death penalty for sabotage had now become a fact. The attitude of my colleagues in Umkhonto was much the same as it had been before I left. They were feeling their way cautiously and felt that it would be a long time before the possibilities of sabotage were exhausted. In fact, the view was expressed by some that the training of recruits was premature. This is recorded by me in the document which is Exhibit R.14. After a full discussion, however, it was decided to go ahead with the plans for military training because of the fact that it would take many years to build up a sufficient nucleus of trained soldiers to start a guerrilla campaign, and whatever happened the training would be of value.

I wish to turn now to certain general allegations made in this case by the State. But before doing so, I wish to revert to certain occurrences said by witnesses to have happened in Port Elizabeth and East London. I am referring to the bombing of private houses of pro-Government persons during September, October and November 1962. I do not know what justification there was for these acts, nor what provocation had been given. But if what I have said already is accepted, then it is clear that these acts had nothing to do with the carrying out of the policy of Umkhonto.

One of the chief allegations in the indictment is that the ANC was a party to a general conspiracy to commit sabotage. I have already explained why this is incorrect but how, externally, there was a departure from the original principle laid down by the ANC. There has, of course, been overlapping of functions internally as well, because there is a difference between a resolution adopted in the atmosphere of a committee room and the concrete difficulties that arise in the field of practical activity. At a later stage the position was further affected by bannings and house arrests, and by persons leaving the country to take up political work abroad. This led to individuals having to do work in different capacities. But though this may have blurred the distinction between Umkhonto and the ANC, it by no means abolished that distinction. Great care was taken to keep the activities of the two organizations in South Africa distinct. The ANC remained a mass political body of Africans only carrying on the type of political work they had conducted prior to 1961. Umkhonto remained a small organization recruiting its members from different races and organizations and trying to achieve its own particular object. The fact that members of Umkhonto were recruited from the ANC, and the fact that persons served both organizations, like Solomon Mbanjwa, did not, in our view, change the nature of the ANC or give it a policy of violence. This overlapping of officers, however, was more the exception than the rule. This is why persons such as 'Mr. X' and 'Mr. Z', who were on the Regional Command of their respective areas, did not participate in any of the ANC committees or activities, and why people such as Mr. Bennett Mashiyana and Mr. Reginald Ndubi did not hear of sabotage at their ANC meetings.

Another of the allegations in the indictment is that Rivonia was the headquarters of Umkhonto. This is not true of the time when I was there. I was told, of course, and knew that certain of the activities of the Communist Party were carried on there. But this is no reason (as I shall presently explain) why I should not use the place.

I came there in the following manner:

1. As already indicated, early in April 1961 I went underground to organize the May general strike. My work entailed travelling throughout the country, living now in African townships, then in country villages and again in cities. During the second half of the year I started visiting the Parktown home of Arthur Goldreich, where I used to meet my family privately. Although I had no direct political association with him, I had known Arthur Goldreich4 socially since 1958.

2. In October, Arthur Goldreich informed me that he was moving out of town and offered me a hiding place there. A few days thereafter, he arranged for Michael Harmel to take me to Rivonia. I naturally found Rivonia an ideal place for the man who lived the life of an outlaw. Up to that time I had been compelled to live indoors during the daytime and could only venture out under cover of darkness. But at Liliesleaf 5[farm, Rivonia,] I could live differently and work far more efficiently.

3. For obvious reasons, I had to disguise myself and I assumed the fictitious name of David. In December, Arthur Goldreich and his family moved in. I stayed there until I went abroad on 11 January 1962. As already indicated, I returned in July 1962 and was arrested in Natal on 5 August.

4. Up to the time of my arrest, Liliesleaf farm was the headquarters of neither the African National Congress nor Umkhonto. With the exception of myself, none of the officials or members of these bodies lived there, no meetings of the governing bodies were ever held there, and no activities connected with them were either organized or directed from there. On numerous occasions during my stay at Liliesleaf farm I met both the Executive Committee of the ANC, as well as the NHC, but such meetings were held elsewhere and not on the farm.

5. Whilst staying at Liliesleaf farm, I frequently visited Arthur Goldreich in the main house and he also paid me visits in my room. We had numerous political discussions covering a variety of subjects. We discussed ideological and practical questions, the Congress Alliance, Umkhonto and its activities generally, and his experiences as a soldier in the Palmach, the military wing of the Haganah. Haganah was the political authority of the Jewish National Movement in Palestine.

6. Because of what I had got to know of Goldreich, I recommended on my return to South Africa that he should be recruited to Umkhonto. I do not know of my personal knowledge whether this was done.

Another of the allegations made by the State is that the aims and objects of the ANC and the Communist Party are the same. I wish to deal with this and with my own political position, because I must assume that the State may try to argue from certain Exhibits that I tried to introduce Marxism into the ANC. The allegation as to the ANC is false. This is an old allegation which was disproved at the Treason Trial and which has again reared its head. But since the allegation has been made again, I shall deal with it as well as with the relationship between the ANC and the Communist Party and Umkhonto and that party.

The ideological creed of the ANC is, and always has been, the creed of African Nationalism. It is not the concept of African Nationalism expressed in the cry, 'Drive the White man into the sea'. The African Nationalism for which the ANC stands is the concept of freedom and fulfilment for the African people in their own land. The most important political document ever adopted by the ANC is the 'Freedom Charter'. It is by no means a blueprint for a socialist state. It calls for redistribution, but not nationalization, of land; it provides for nationalization of mines, banks, and monopoly industry, because big monopolies are owned by one race only, and without such nationalization racial domination would be perpetuated despite the spread of political power. It would be a hollow gesture to repeal the Gold Law prohibitions against Africans when all gold mines are owned by European companies. In this respect the ANC's policy corresponds with the old policy of the present Nationalist Party which, for many years, had as part of its programme the nationalization of the gold mines which, at that time, were controlled by foreign capital. Under the Freedom Charter, nationalization would take place in an economy based on private enterprise. The realization of the Freedom Charter would open up fresh fields for a prosperous African population of all classes, including the middle class. The ANC has never at any period of its history advocated a revolutionary change in the economic structure of the country, nor has it, to the best of my recollection, ever condemned capitalist society.

As far as the Communist Party is concerned, and if I understand its policy correctly, it stands for the establishment of a State based on the principles of Marxism. Although it is prepared to work for the Freedom Charter, as a short term solution to the problems created by white supremacy, it regards the Freedom Charter as the beginning, and not the end, of its programme.

The ANC, unlike the Communist Party, admitted Africans only as members. Its chief goal was, and is, for the African people to win unity and full political rights. The Communist Party's main aim, on the other hand, was to remove the capitalists and to replace them with a working-class government. The Communist Party sought to emphasize class distinctions whilst the ANC seeks to harmonize them. This is a vital distinction.

It is true that there has often been close co-operation between the ANC and the Communist Party. But co-operation is merely proof of a common goal - in this case the removal of white supremacy - and is not proof of a complete community of interests.

The history of the world is full of similar examples. Perhaps the most striking illustration is to be found in the co-operation between Great Britain, the United States of America, and the Soviet Union in the fight against Hitler. Nobody but Hitler would have dared to suggest that such co-operation turned Churchill or Roosevelt into communists or communist tools, or that Britain and America were working to bring about a communist world.

Another instance of such co-operation is to be found precisely in Umkhonto. Shortly after Umkhonto was constituted, I was informed by some of its members that the Communist Party would support Umkhonto, and this then occurred. At a later stage the support was made openly.

I believe that communists have always played an active role in the fight by colonial countries for their freedom, because the short-term objects of communism would always correspond with the long-term objects of freedom movements. Thus communists have played an important role in the freedom struggles fought in countries such as Malaya, Algeria, and Indonesia, yet none of these States today are communist countries. Similarly in the underground resistance movements which sprung up in Europe during the last World War, communists played an important role. Even General Chiang Kai-Shek, today one of the bitterest enemies of communism, fought together with the communists against the ruling class in the struggle which led to his assumption of power in China in the 1930s.

This pattern of co-operation between communists and non-communists has been repeated in the National Liberation Movement of South Africa. Prior to the banning of the Communist Party, joint campaigns involving the Communist Party and the Congress movements were accepted practice. African communists could, and did, become members of the ANC, and some served on the National, Provincial, and local committees. Amongst those who served on the National Executive are Albert Nzula, a former Secretary of the Communist Party, Moses Kotane, another former Secretary, and J. B. Marks, a former member of the Central Committee.

I joined the ANC in 1944, and in my younger days I held the view that the policy of admitting communists to the ANC, and the close co-operation which existed at times on specific issues between the ANC and the Communist Party, would lead to a watering down of the concept of African Nationalism. At that stage I was a member of the African National Congress Youth League, and was one of a group which moved for the expulsion of communists from the ANC. This proposal was heavily defeated. Amongst those who voted against the proposal were some of the most conservative sections of African political opinion. They defended the policy on the ground that from its inception the ANC was formed and built up, not as a political party with one school of political thought, but as a Parliament of the African people, accommodating people of various political convictions, all united by the common goal of national liberation. I was eventually won over to this point of view and I have upheld it ever since.

It is perhaps difficult for white South Africans, with an ingrained prejudice against communism, to understand why experienced African politicians so readily accept communists as their friends. But to us the reason is obvious. Theoretical differences amongst those fighting against oppression is a luxury we cannot afford at this stage. What is more, for many decades communists were the only political group in South Africa who were prepared to treat Africans as human beings and their equals; who were prepared to eat with us; talk with us, live with us, and work with us. They were the only political group which was prepared to work with the Africans for the attainment of political rights and a stake in society. Because of this, there are many Africans who, today, tend to equate freedom with communism. They are supported in this belief by a legislature which brands all exponents of democratic government and African freedom as communists and bans many of them (who are not communists) under the Suppression of Communism Act. Although I have never been a member of the Communist Party, I myself have been named under that pernicious Act because of the role I played in the Defiance Campaign. I have also been banned and imprisoned under that Act.

It is not only in internal politics that we count communists as amongst those who support our cause. In the international field, communist countries have always come to our aid. In the United Nations and other Councils of the world the communist bloc has supported the Afro-Asian struggle against colonialism and often seems to be more sympathetic to our plight than some of the Western powers. Although there is a universal condemnation of apartheid, the communist bloc speaks out against it with a louder voice than most of the white world. In these circumstances, it would take a brash young politician, such as I was in 1949, to proclaim that the Communists are our enemies.

I turn now to my own position. I have denied that I am a communist, and I think that in the circumstances I am obliged to state exactly what my political beliefs are.

I have always regarded myself, in the first place, as an African patriot. After all, I was born in Umtata, forty-six years ago. My guardian was my cousin, who was the acting paramount chief of Tembuland, and I am related both to the present paramount chief of Tembuland, Sabata Dalindyebo, and to Kaizer Matanzima, the Chief Minister of the Transkei.

Today I am attracted by the idea of a classless society, an attraction which springs in part from Marxist reading and, in part, from my admiration of the structure and organization of early African societies in this country. The land, then the main means of production, belonged to the tribe. There were no rich or poor and there was no exploitation.

It is true, as I have already stated, that I have been influenced by Marxist thought. But this is also true of many of the leaders of the new independent States. Such widely different persons as Gandhi, Nehru, Nkrumah, and Nasser all acknowledge this fact. We all accept the need for some form of socialism to enable our people to catch up with the advanced countries of this world and to overcome their legacy of extreme poverty. But this does not mean we are Marxists.

Indeed, for my own part, I believe that it is open to debate whether the Communist Party has any specific role to play at this particular stage of our political struggle. The basic task at the present moment is the removal of race discrimination and the attainment of democratic rights on the basis of the Freedom Charter. In so far as that Party furthers this task, I welcome its assistance. I realize that it is one of the means by which people of all races can be drawn into our struggle.

From my reading of Marxist literature and from conversations with Marxists, I have gained the impression that communists regard the parliamentary system of the West as undemocratic and reactionary. But, on the contrary, I am an admirer of such a system.

The Magna Carta, the Petition of Rights, and the Bill of Rights are documents which are held in veneration by democrats throughout the world.

I have great respect for British political institutions, and for the country's system of justice. I regard the British Parliament as the most democratic institution in the world, and the independence and impartiality of its judiciary never fail to arouse my admiration.

The American Congress, that country's doctrine of separation of powers, as well as the independence of its judiciary, arouses in me similar sentiments.

I have been influenced in my thinking by both West and East. All this has led me to feel that in my search for a political formula, I should be absolutely impartial and objective. I should tie myself to no particular system of society other than of socialism. I must leave myself free to borrow the best from the West and from the East .

There are certain Exhibits which suggest that we received financial support from abroad, and I wish to deal with this question.

Our political struggle has always been financed from internal sources - from funds raised by our own people and by our own supporters. Whenever we had a special campaign or an important political case - for example, the Treason Trial - we received financial assistance from sympathetic individuals and organizations in the Western countries. We had never felt it necessary to go beyond these sources.

But when in 1961 the Umkhonto was formed, and a new phase of struggle introduced, we realized that these events would make a heavy call on our slender resources, and that the scale of our activities would be hampered by the lack of funds. One of my instructions, as I went abroad in January 1962, was to raise funds from the African states.

I must add that, whilst abroad, I had discussions with leaders of political movements in Africa and discovered that almost every single one of them, in areas which had still not attained independence, had received all forms of assistance from the socialist countries, as well as from the West, including that of financial support. I also discovered that some well-known African states, all of them non-communists, and even anti-communists, had received similar assistance.

On my return to the Republic, I made a strong recommendation to the ANC that we should not confine ourselves to Africa and the Western countries, but that we should also send a mission to the socialist countries to raise the funds which we so urgently needed.

I have been told that after I was convicted such a mission was sent, but I am not prepared to name any countries to which it went, nor am I at liberty to disclose the names of the organizations and countries which gave us support or promised to do so.

As I understand the State case, and in particular the evidence of 'Mr. X', the suggestion is that Umkhonto was the inspiration of the Communist Party which sought by playing upon imaginary grievances to enrol the African people into an army which ostensibly was to fight for African freedom, but in reality was fighting for a communist state. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact the suggestion is preposterous. Umkhonto was formed by Africans to further their struggle for freedom in their own land. Communists and others supported the movement, and we only wish that more sections of the community would join us.

Our fight is against real, and not imaginary, hardships or, to use the language of the State Prosecutor, 'so-called hardships'. Basically, we fight against two features which are the hallmarks of African life in South Africa and which are entrenched by legislation which we seek to have repealed. These features are poverty and lack of human dignity, and we do not need communists or so-called 'agitators' to teach us about these things.

South Africa is the richest country in Africa, and could be one of the richest countries in the world. But it is a land of extremes and remarkable contrasts. The whites enjoy what may well be the highest standard of living in the world, whilst Africans live in poverty and misery. Forty per cent of the Africans live in hopelessly overcrowded and, in some cases, drought-stricken Reserves, where soil erosion and the overworking of the soil makes it impossible for them to live properly off the land. Thirty per cent are labourers, labour tenants, and squatters on white farms and work and live under conditions similar to those of the serfs of the Middle Ages. The other 30 per cent live in towns where they have developed economic and social habits which bring them closer in many respects to white standards. Yet most Africans, even in this group, are impoverished by low incomes and high cost of living.

The highest-paid and the most prosperous section of urban African life is in Johannesburg. Yet their actual position is desperate. The latest figures were given on 25 March 1964 by Mr. Carr, Manager of the Johannesburg Non-European Affairs Department. The poverty datum line for the average African family in Johannesburg (according to Mr. Carr's department) is R42.84 per month. He showed that the average monthly wage is R32.24 and that 46 per cent of all African families in Johannesburg do not earn enough to keep them going.

Poverty goes hand in hand with malnutrition and disease. The incidence of malnutrition and deficiency diseases is very high amongst Africans. Tuberculosis, pellagra, kwashiorkor, gastro-enteritis, and scurvy bring death and destruction of health. The incidence of infant mortality is one of the highest in the world. According to the Medical Officer of Health for Pretoria, tuberculosis kills forty people a day (almost all Africans), and in 1961 there were 58,491 new cases reported. These diseases not only destroy the vital organs of the body, but they result in retarded mental conditions and lack of initiative, and reduce powers of concentration. The secondary results of such conditions affect the whole community and the standard of work performed by African labourers.

The complaint of Africans, however, is not only that they are poor and the whites are rich, but that the laws which are made by the whites are designed to preserve this situation. There are two ways to break out of poverty. The first is by formal education, and the second is by the worker acquiring a greater skill at his work and thus higher wages. As far as Africans are concerned, both these avenues of advancement are deliberately curtailed by legislation.

The present Government has always sought to hamper Africans in their search for education. One of their early acts, after coming into power, was to stop subsidies for African school feeding. Many African children who attended schools depended on this supplement to their diet. This was a cruel act.

There is compulsory education for all white children at virtually no cost to their parents, be they rich or poor. Similar facilities are not provided for the African children, though there are some who receive such assistance. African children, however, generally have to pay more for their schooling than whites. According to figures quoted by the South African Institute of Race Relations in its 1963 journal, approximately 40 per cent of African children in the age group between seven to fourteen do not attend school. For those who do attend school, the standards are vastly different from those afforded to white children. In 1960-61 the per capita Government spending on African students at State-aided schools was estimated at R12.46. In the same years, the per capita spending on white children in the Cape Province (which are the only figures available to me) was R144.57. Although there are no figures available to me, it can be stated, without doubt, that the white children on whom R144.57 per head was being spent all came from wealthier homes than African children on whom R12.46 per head was being spent.

The quality of education is also different. According to the Bantu Educational Journal, only 5,660 African children in the whole of South Africa passed their Junior Certificate in 1962, and in that year only 362 passed matric. This is presumably consistent with the policy of Bantu education about which the present Prime Minister said, during the debate on the Bantu Education Bill in 1953:

"When I have control of Native education I will reform it so that Natives will be taught from childhood to realize that equality with Europeans is not for them . . . People who believe in equality are not desirable teachers for Natives. When my Department controls Native education it will know for what class of higher education a Native is fitted, and whether he will have a chance in life to use his knowledge."

The other main obstacle to the economic advancement of the African is the industrial colour-bar under which all the better jobs of industry are reserved for Whites only. Moreover, Africans who do obtain employment in the unskilled and semi-skilled occupations which are open to them are not allowed to form trade unions which have recognition under the Industrial Conciliation Act. This means that strikes of African workers are illegal, and that they are denied the right of collective bargaining which is permitted to the better-paid White workers. The discrimination in the policy of successive South African Governments towards African workers is demonstrated by the so-called 'civilized labour policy' under which sheltered, unskilled Government jobs are found for those white workers who cannot make the grade in industry, at wages which far exceed the earnings of the average African employee in industry.

The Government often answers its critics by saying that Africans in South Africa are economically better off than the inhabitants of the other countries in Africa. I do not know whether this statement is true and doubt whether any comparison can be made without having regard to the cost-of-living index in such countries. But even if it is true, as far as the African people are concerned it is irrelevant. Our complaint is not that we are poor by comparison with people in other countries, but that we are poor by comparison with the white people in our own country, and that we are prevented by legislation from altering this imbalance.

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. Menial tasks in South Africa are invariably performed by Africans. When anything has to be carried or cleaned the white man will look around for an African to do it for him, whether the African is employed by him or not. 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?

Pass laws, which to the Africans are among the most hated bits of legislation in South Africa, render any African liable to police surveillance at any time. I doubt whether there is a single African male in South Africa who has not at some stage had a brush with the police over his pass. Hundreds and thousands of Africans are thrown into jail each year under pass laws. Even worse than this is the fact that pass laws keep husband and wife apart and lead to the breakdown of family life.

Poverty and the breakdown of family life have secondary effects. Children wander about the streets of the townships because they have no schools to go to, or no money to enable them to go to school, or no parents at home to see that they go to school, because both parents (if there be two) have to work to keep the family alive. This leads to a breakdown in moral standards, to an alarming rise in illegitimacy, and to growing violence which erupts not only politically, but everywhere. 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. Housebreakings and robberies are increasing, despite the fact that the death sentence can now be imposed for such offences. Death sentences cannot cure the festering sore.

Africans want to be paid a living wage. Africans want to perform work which they are capable of doing, and not work which the Government declares them to be capable o Africans want to be allowed to live where they obtain work, and not be endorsed out of an area because they were not born there. Africans want to be allowed to own land in places where they work, and not to be obliged to live in rented houses which they can never call their own. Africans want to be part of the general population, and not confined to living in their own ghettoes. African men want to have their wives and children to live with them where they work, and not be forced into an unnatural existence in men's hostels. African women want to be with their menfolk and not be left permanently widowed in the Reserves. Africans want to be allowed out after eleven o'clock at night and not to be confined to their rooms like little children. Africans want to be allowed to travel in their own country and to seek work where they want to and not where the Labour Bureau tells them to. Africans want a just share in the whole of South Africa; they want security and a stake in society.

Above all, 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.

But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that policy.

This then is what the ANC is fighting. Their struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and their own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live.

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famous speeches nelson mandela

Nelson Mandela's five most memorable speeches

Excerpts from ‘An ideal I am prepared to die for’ and other memorable speeches by Mandela.

Nelson Mandela's five most memorable speeches

Almost each one of Nelson Mandela’s speeches, widely believed to be among the most inspirational addresses by world leaders in the past several decades, has been documented by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory project. Here are excerpts from five of his most memorable speeches.

‘Black Man In A White Man’s Court’ This was Mandela’s first court statement, in Pretoria, October 1962. He opened his arguments by saying he believed this was a “trial of the African people”.

In its proper meaning equality before the law means the right to participate in the making of the laws by which one is governed, a constitution which guarantees democratic rights to all sections of the population, the right to approach the court for protection or relief in the case of the violation of rights guaranteed in the constitution, and the right to take part in the administration of justice as judges, magistrates, attorneys-general, law advisers and similar positions.

In the absence of these safeguards the phrase ’equality before the law’, in so far as it is intended to apply to us, is meaningless and misleading. All the rights and privileges to which I have referred are monopolised by whites, and we enjoy none of them.

The white man makes all the laws, he drags us before his courts and accuses us, and he sits in judgement over us.

It is fit and proper to raise the question sharply, what is this rigid colour-bar in the administration of justice? Why is it that in this courtroom I face a white magistrate, am confronted by a white prosecutor, and escorted into the dock by a white orderly? Can anyone honestly and seriously suggest that in this type of atmosphere the scales of justice are evenly balanced?

Why is it that no African in the history of this country has ever had the honour of being tried by his own kith and kin, by his own flesh and blood?

I will tell Your Worship why: the real purpose of this rigid colour-bar is to ensure that the justice dispensed by the courts should conform to the policy of the country, however much that policy might be in conflict with the norms of justice accepted in judiciaries throughout the civilised world.

I feel oppressed by the atmosphere of white domination that lurks all around in this courtroom. Somehow this atmosphere calls to mind the inhuman injustices caused to my people outside this courtroom by this same white domination.

It reminds me that I am voteless because there is a parliament in this country that is white-controlled.

‘An ideal I am prepared to die for’

Mandela’s best known speech, delivered in 1964 from the dock of the Pretoria courtroom, having been in jail two years already by then. The speech was made famous by its closing lines in which he speaks of democracy and free society, an ideal for which he said he was prepared to die.  

I have always regarded myself, in the first place, as an African patriot. After all, I was born in Umtata, forty-six years ago. My guardian was my cousin, who was the acting paramount chief of Thembuland, and I am related both to Sabata Dalindyebo, the present paramount chief, and to Kaiser Matanzima, the Chief Minister for the Transkei.

Today I am attracted by the idea of a classless society, an attraction which springs in part from Marxist reading and, in part, from my admiration of the structure and organisation of early African societies in this country. The land, then the main means of production, belonged to the tribe. There was no rich or poor and there was no exploitation.

It is true, as I have already stated that I have been influenced by Marxist thought. But this is also true of many of the leaders of the new independent states. Such widely different persons as Gandhi, Nehru, Nkrumah, and Nasser all acknowledge this fact. We all accept the need for some form of socialism to enable our people to catch up with the advanced countries of the world and to overcome their legacy of extreme poverty. But this does not mean we are Marxists….

… I have been influenced in my thinking by both West and East. All this has led me to feel that in my search for a political formula, I should be absolutely impartial and objective. I should tie myself to no particular system of society other than that of socialism. I must leave myself free to borrow the best from West and from the East.

…The complaint of Africans, however, is not only that they are poor and whites are rich, but that the laws which are made by the whites are designed to preserve this situation.

… There is compulsory education for all white children at virtually no cost to their parents, be they rich or poor. Similar facilities are not provided for the African children… The quality of education is also different… The Government often answers its critics by saying that Africans in South Africa are economically better off than the inhabitants of the other countries in Africa. I do not know whether this statement is true and doubt whether any comparison can be made without having regard to the cost-of-living index in such countries. But even if it is true, as far as African people are concerned, it is irrelevant. Our complaint is not that we are poor by comparison with people in other countries, but that we are poor by comparison with white people in our own country, and that we are prevented by legislation from altering this imbalance.

… Above all, My Lord, 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.

But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs as it certainly must, it will not change that policy.

This then is what the ANC is fighting. Our struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by our own suffering and our own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live. [someone coughs>

During my lifetime I have dedicated my life 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 will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

‘Address in Capetown’ It was in February 1990 that Mandela, just released from prison, made his first public speech in 27 years at the Parade, Cape Town. He ended his speech with the same words he closed his 1964 speech – still believing in an ideal he was prepared to die for.

Intensify the struggle

We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a mistake which generations to come will not be able to forgive.

The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts. It is only through disciplined mass action that our victory can be assured.

We call on our white compatriots to join us in the shaping of a new South Africa. The freedom movement is a political home for you too. We call on the international community to continue the campaign to isolate the apartheid regime.

To lift sanctions now would be to run the risk of aborting the process towards the complete eradication of apartheid. Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.

Universal suffrage on a common voters’ roll in a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa is the only way to peace and racial harmony.

In conclusion, I wish to quote my own words during my trial in 1964. They are as true today as they were then. I quote:

“I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have carried the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. 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.”

‘The 100-days speech’

Mandela had completed 100 days in office as President in August 1994. This was his opening address for the budget debate that year.

Now and again in the course of my remarks, I will pull out a white handkerchief and wipe my eyes. Don’t be worried. There is nothing wrong. It is my own unique way of attracting your attention.

I stand before you aware of the momentous times that we are traversing. These times also demand of us that we regularly account to this important assembly about the work and process to us by the electorate.

Much can be said about the content of the debate in the current session. On occasion, strong language has been used to drive home a strongly held belief. Within the limits, this shows that we have, at last, a robust vibrant democracy, with broad consensus on the most important national questions.

Down the years, human society has pitted itself against the evils of poverty, disease, and ignorance. Progress has been achieved while reverses have also been sustained. It is incumbent on South Africa to be in the company of those who have recorded more success than failure.

At the end of the day, a yardstick that we shall all be judged by is one and only one. And that is, are we through our endeavours here creating the basis to better the lives of South Africans? This is not because the people have some subjective expectations fanned during an election campaign. Neither is it because there is a magic wand that they see in the new government. Millions have suffered deprivation for decades and they have the right to seek redress. They fought and voted for change and change the people of South Africa must have.

Honourable members, you have been warned.

A hundred days ago, the President and Deputy Presidents of a new democratic republic were sworn in. Our people and the whole world marvelled at what has been variously characterised as a miracle and an epoch-making event. Are we worthy of that trust and confidence? ‘Don’t call me, I’ll call You’

In June 2004, long after he had retired as president, Mandela also retired from public life. This was the speech he delivered at Johannesburg.

I am turning 86 in a few weeks time and that is a longer life than most people are granted. I have the added blessing of being in very good health, at least according to my doctors. I am confident that nobody present here today will accuse me of selfishness if I ask to spend time, while I am still in good health, with my family, my friends and also with myself.

One of the things that made me long to be back in prison was that I had so little opportunity for reading, thinking and quiet reflection after my release. I intend, amongst other things, to give myself much more opportunity for such reading and reflection. And of course, there are those memoirs about the presidential years that now really need my urgent attention.

When I told one of my advisors a few months ago that I wanted to retire he growled at me: “you are retired.” If that is really the case then I should say I now announce that I am retiring from retirement.

I do not intend to hide away totally from the public, but hence forth I want to be in the position of calling you to ask whether I would be welcome, rather than being called upon to do things and participate in events. The appeal therefore is: don’t call me, I’ll call you.

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Nelson Mandela International Day 18 July

Nelson Mandela, President of the African National Congress, addresses a press conference where he called for a 'phased maintenance' of sanctions. 03 December 1991. Copyright UN Photo/John Isaac

© UN Photo/John Isaac

Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way. - Nelson Mandela

Chronology of Nelson Mandela's Life

Speaking out for justice, key statements & speeches by nelson mandela 1961 — 2008.

On Freedom | On Racial Discrimination | On Reconciliation | On Human Rights | On Fighting Poverty | On Building Peace

Those who are voteless cannot be expected to continue paying taxes to a government which is not responsible to them. People who live in poverty and starvation cannot be expected to pay exorbitant house rents to the government and local authorities. We furnish the sinews of agriculture and industry. We produce the work of the gold mines, the diamonds and the coal, of the farms and industry, in return for miserable wages. Why should we continue enriching those who steal the products of our sweat and blood? Those who exploit us and refuse us the right to organise trade unions? ...

I am informed that a warrant for my arrest has been issued, and that the police are looking for me. ... Any serious politician will realise that under present-day conditions in this country, to seek for cheap martyrdom by handing myself to the police is naive and criminal. We have an important programme before us and it is important to carry it out very seriously and without delay.

I have chosen this latter course, which is more difficult and which entails more risk and hardship than sitting in gaol. 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 cooperate 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.

  • "The Struggle is my Life" Press Statement issued while underground in South Africa 26, June 1961

In its proper meaning equality before the law means the right to participate in the making of the laws by which one is governed, a constitution which guarantees democratic rights to all sections of the population, the right to approach the court for protection or relief in the case of the violation of rights guaranteed in the constitution, and the right to take part in the administration of justice as judges, magistrates, attorneys-general, law advisers and similar positions.

In the absence of these safeguards the phrase “equality before the law”, in so far as it is intended to apply to us, is meaningless and misleading. All the rights and privileges to which I have referred are monopolized by whites, and we enjoy none of them. …

... (I) consider myself neither morally nor legally obliged to obey laws made by a parliament in which I am not represented. That the will of the people is the basis of the authority of government is a principle universally acknowledged as sacred throughout the civilised world, and constitutes the basic foundations of freedom and justice. It is understandable why citizens, who have the vote as well as the right to direct representation in the country’s governing bodies, should be morally and legally bound by the laws governing the country.

It should be equally understandable why we, as Africans, should adopt the attitude that we are neither morally nor legally bound to obey laws which we have not made, nor can we be expected to have confidence in courts which enforce such laws. …

I hate the practice of race discrimination, and in my hatred I am sustained by the fact that the overwhelming majority of mankind hate it equally. I hate the systematic inculcation of children with colour prejudice and I am sustained in that hatred by the fact that the overwhelming majority of mankind, here and abroad, are with me in that. I hate the racial arrogance which decrees that the good things of life shall be retained as the exclusive right of a minority of the population, and which reduces the majority of the population to a position of subservience and inferiority, and maintains them as voteless chattels to work where they are told and behave as they are told by the ruling minority. I am sustained in that hatred by the fact that the overwhelming majority of mankind both in this country and abroad are with me.

Nothing that this court can do to me will change in any way that hatred in me, which can only be removed by the removal of the injustice and the inhumanity which I have sought to remove from the political and social life of this country. ...

  • Court statement Pretoria, South Africa — 15 October–7 November 1962

The complaint of Africans ... is not only that they are poor and the whites are rich, but that the laws which are made by the whites are designed to preserve this situation. There are two ways to break out of poverty. The first is by formal education, and the second is by the worker acquiring a greater skill at his work and thus higher wages. As far as Africans are concerned, both these avenues of advancement are deliberately curtailed by legislation. ...

Above all, 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.

But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that policy.

This then is what the ANC is fighting. Their struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and their own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live.

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.

  • Statement from the dock at the opening of the defense case in the Rivonia Trial Pretoria, South Africa — 20 April 1964

Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. We call on our people to seize this moment so that the process towards democracy is rapid and uninterrupted. We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a mistake which generations to come will not be able to forgive. The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts.

It is only through disciplined mass action that our victory can be assured. We call on our white compatriots to join us in the shaping of a new South Africa. The freedom movement is a political home for you too. We call on the international community to continue the campaign to isolate the apartheid regime. To lift sanctions now would be to run the risk of aborting the process towards the complete eradication of apartheid.

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....

  • On release from prison Cape Town, South Africa — 11 February 1990

↥ Speaking Out For Justice...

On Racial Discrimination

It will forever remain an indelible blight on human history that the apartheid crime ever occurred. Future generations will surely ask: What error was made that this system established itself in the wake of the adoption of a universal declaration of human rights? It will forever remain an accusation and a challenge to all men and women of conscience that it took as long as it has before all of us stood up to say ‘enough is enough.’...

Let us travel it together. Let us, by our joint actions, vindicate the purposes for which this Organization was established and create a situation wherein its Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will become part of the body of law on which will be based the political and social order of a new South Africa. Our common victory is assured.

  • Address to the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid 22 June 1990

It surely must be one of the great ironies of our age that this august Assembly is addressed, for the first time in its 49 years, by a South African Head of State drawn from among the African majority of what is an African country.

Future generations will find it strange in the extreme that it was only so late in the 20th century that it was possible for our delegation to take its seat in the Assembly, recognized both by our people and the nations of the world as the legitimate representative of the people of our country.

It is indeed a most welcome thing that this august Organization will mark its 50th anniversary next year with the apartheid system having been vanquished and consigned to the past. That historic change has come about not least because of the great efforts in which the UN engaged to ensure the suppression of the apartheid crime against humanity. …

 In all we do, we have to ensure the healing of the wounds inflicted on all our people across the great dividing line imposed on our society by centuries of colonialism and apartheid. We must ensure that colour, race and gender become only a God-given gift to each one of us and not an indelible mark or attribute that accords a special status to any.

We must work for the day when we, as South Africans, see one another and interact with one another as equal human beings and as part of one nation united, rather than torn asunder, by its diversity. The road we shall have to travel to reach this destination will by no means be easy. All of us know how stubbornly racism can cling to the mind and how deeply it can infect the human soul. Where it is sustained by the racial ordering of the material world, as is the case in our country, that stubbornness can multiply a hundred-fold.

And yet however hard the battle will be, we will not surrender. Whatever the time it will take, we will not tire. The very fact that racism degrades both the perpetrator and the victim commands that, if we are true to our commitment to protect human dignity, we fight on until victory is achieved.

  • Address to the United Nations General Assembly 3 October 1994

On Reconciliation

We in South Africa are convinced that it is both possible and practicable to reach our goal of a better life for all in the shortest possible time. We derive our confidence from the knowledge that this is a vision shared by the overwhelming majority of South Africans across the colour and political divides.

And we fully appreciate the role of the international community in making this happen — not only in the form of material support. If we are able today to speak proudly of a rainbow nation, united in its diversity of culture, religion, race, language and ethnicity, it is in part because the world set us a moral example which we dared to follow.

This achievement is bound to last because it is founded on the realisation that reconciliation and nation-building mean, among other things, that we should set out to know the truth about the terrible past and ensure it does not recur. Ours must therefore not be merely a respite before the bitterness of the past once more reasserts itself.

We recognise too, that reconciliation and nation-building would remain pious words if they were not premised on a concerted effort to remove the real roots of past conflict and injustice. Our national security and the survival of our young democracy depend, above everything else, on the programme to meet the basic needs of the people. Reconstruction and development will ensure that all South Africans have a stake in life; that they share an interest in the well-being of the country as a whole.

  • New Delhi, India 25 January 1995

Many people have been sceptical of our capacity to realise the ideal of a rainbow nation. It is true that South Africa was often brought to the brink of destruction because of differences. But let us re-affirm this one thing here today: it is not our diversity which divides us, it is not our ethnicity, or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not!

As freedom loving people, we want to see our country prosper and provide basic services to all. For our freedom can never be complete or our democracy stable unless the basic needs of our people are met. We have seen the stability that development brings. And in turn we know that peace is the most powerful weapon that any community or nation can have for development.

As we rebuild our country, we should remain vigilant against the enemies of development and democracy, even if they come from within our own ranks. Violence will not bring us closer to our objectives. All of us should ask ourselves the question: Have I done everything in my power to bring about lasting peace and prosperity in my city and my country? ...

  • Durban, South Africa 16 April 1999

On Human Rights

Quite appropriately, this 53rd General Assembly [of the United Nations] will be remembered through the ages as the moment at which we marked and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Born in the aftermath of the defeat of the Nazi and fascist crime against humanity, this Declaration held high the hope that all our societies would, in future, be built on the foundations of the glorious vision spelt out in each of its clauses.

For those who had to fight for their emancipation, such as ourselves who, with your help, had to free ourselves from the criminal apartheid system, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights served as the vindication of the justice of our cause. At the same time, it constituted a challenge to us that our freedom, once achieved, should be dedicated to the implementation of the perspectives contained in the Declaration

Today, we celebrate the fact that this historic document has survived a turbulent five decades, which have seen some of the most extraordinary developments in the evolution of human society. These include the collapse of the colonial system, the passing of a bipolar world, breath taking advances in science and technology and the entrenchment of the complex process of globalisation.

And yet, at the end of it all, the human beings who are the subject of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights continue to be afflicted by wars and violent conflicts. They have, as yet, not attained their freedom from fear of death that would be brought about by the use of weapons of mass destruction as well as conventional arms. …

This is probably the last time I will have the honour to stand at this podium to address the General Assembly. Born as the First World War came to a close and departing from public life as the world marks half-a-century of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I have reached that part of the long walk when the opportunity is granted, as it should be to all men and women, to retire to some rest and tranquillity in the village of my birth.

As I sit in Qunu and grow as ancient as its hills, I will continue to entertain the hope that there has emerged a cadre of leaders in my own country and region, on my continent and in the world, which will not allow that any should be denied their freedom as we were; that any should be turned into refugees as we were; that any should be condemned to go hungry as we were; that any should be stripped of their human dignity as we were. ...

Were all these hopes to translate into a realisable dream and not a nightmare to torment the soul of the aged, then will I, indeed, have peace and tranquillity. Then would history and the billions throughout the world proclaim that it was right that we dreamt and that we toiled to give life to a workable dream.

  • Address to the United Nations General Assembly 21 September 1998

On Fighting Poverty

South Africans have shown a tremendous capacity to join hands when facing difficulty. The apartheid system eventually fell because of the unity of those who were denied their rights, and because all sectors of society recognised that they had more to gain from working together than from fighting each other. It is that same quality that has helped us, so quickly, to lay the foundations for a better life.

When apartheid ended we faced the difficult task of reconstructing our shattered society and providing the most basic of services for our people. We had to build schools and hospitals, to provide housing and jobs, to boost our economy, to protect our people’s rights through our Constitution and our courts, to help South Africa deal with the division of its past and start the healing process, to deal with abuse and damage which engulfed most of our communities.

Essentially our task was to create the conditions in which every South African has the opportunity to create a better life for themselves. But government cannot meet these challenges by itself. It requires of us all to pull together, into a partnership, in order to bring about the necessary changes.

In order to achieve these goals, we also needed to transform government from a system serving minority interests to one that meets the needs of all South Africans. And all these things had to be done in a country where most people were denied experience of government or proper education and training. This is why we have placed aheavy emphasis on building capacity in government. …

When we say that the best solutions to these challenges can only be found when we work with each other, it requires a commitment of each and every one of us. Today we should all ask ourselves: What have I done to improve the surroundings in which I live? Do I litter or do I protect my surroundings? Do I spread racial hatred or do I promote peace and reconciliation? Do I buy stolen goods or do I help reduce crime? Do I pay my dues or do I cheat on my taxes, service fees and licences? Do I expect everything to be delivered to me or do I work with my local councillors to create a better life for myself and my community?

  • Bothaville, South Africa 14 October 1998

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest. We shall never forget how millions of people around the world joined us in solidarity to fight the injustice of our oppression while we were incarcerated. Those efforts paid off and we are able to stand here and join the millions around the world in support of freedom against poverty.

Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation.

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 world of great promise and hope. It is also a world of despair, disease and hunger.

Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom. The steps that are needed from the developed nations are clear.

The first is ensuring trade justice. I have said before that trade justice is a truly meaningful way for the developed countries to show commitment to bringing about an end to global poverty. The second is an end to the debt crisis for the poor countries. The third is to deliver much more aid and make sure it is of the highest quality. ...

  • Live 8 concert Johannesburg, South Africa — 2 July 2005

On Building Peace

Peace is not just the absence of conflict; peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish, regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, class, caste, or any other social markers of difference. Religion, ethnicity, language, social and cultural practices are elements which enrich human civilization, adding to the wealth of our diversity. Why should they be allowed to become a cause of division, and violence? We demean our common humanity by allowing that to happen. ...

  • New Delhi, India 31 January 2004

There is still too much discord, hatred, division, conflict and violence in our world here at the beginning of the 21st century. A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of. … It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build. ...

  • Soweto, South Africa 12 July 2008

A Call to Action for Democracy, Peace & Prosperity for All

Nelson Mandela Foundation

  • Mandela Day

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“I am prepared to die”

April 20, 2011 – April 20, 2011 marks the 47th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s speech from the dock in the Rivonia Trial in which he said he was prepared to die for a democratic, non-racial South Africa.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory has a rare typescript of the speech, which Mr Mandela autographed and gave as a gift to a comrade.

In the Rivonia Trial Mr Mandela chose, instead of testifying, to make a speech from the dock and proceeded to hold the court spellbound for more than four hours. His speech, which was made at the beginning of the defence case, ended with the words:

“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.”

Click here to see the last page from the speech from the dock.

Less than two months later, Mr Mandela and his comrades Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Denis Goldberg, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni and Elias Motsoaledi, were convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment. Apartheid laws dictated that the only white person sentenced, Denis Goldberg, should be held in Pretoria Central Prison. The other seven were sent to Robben Island.

Below the final paragraph of his typewritten speech Mr Mandela wrote:

“The invincibility of our cause and the certainty of our final victory are the impenetrable armour of those who consistently uphold their faith in freedom and justice in spite of political persecution” .

He signed the speech and dated it ‘April 1964’. Mr Mandela then gave the speech to Sylvia Neame, a political activist and the partner, at the time, of Mr Kathrada. She was arrested in August 1964 and put on trial with Advocate Bram Fischer and 10 others.

In April 1965 they were convicted and sentenced. Ms Neame was sentenced to four years (two years to run concurrently). She was released from prison in 1967 and went into exile.

After he was released from prison she gave the signed copy of the speech to Mr Kathrada who donated it to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.

Adv Fischer, who led the defence team in the Rivonia Trial, skipped bail during the trial with Ms Neame and others and was convicted in absentia.

He was rearrested in 1966 and sentenced to life imprisonment. In prison he contracted cancer which was diagnosed late. He was put under house arrest in his brother’s house in April 1975 where he died a few weeks later.

Click here for a full transcript of Mr Mandela’s speech from the dock.

Face2Face Africa

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Read Nelson Mandela’s fiery 1997 speech on apartheid that shocked the world

famous speeches nelson mandela

South Africa ’s first Black president and anti-apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela , was born on this day in 1918. Nelson Mandela Day celebrates the life and values of a global icon, a man who spent his life championing the cause of personal liberty, preaching equality, and advocating the power we have in our shared humanity.

Today, his name is synonymous with the anti-apartheid struggle and invariably evokes memories of one man’s fight to positively change his immediate society and the world at large.

Even though the world has had some great men and women, very few have had as much of an impact on history as Mandela has. Fondly remembered as an international symbol of freedom, peace and equality even after death, Mandela continues to influence the world with his great and timeless words of wisdom.

To commemorate his birthday, Face2Face Africa shares with you a fiery farewell speech he delivered on December 16, 1997, accusing some apartheid leaders of trying to sabotage the ANC-led government when he was leaving office as leader of the party.

Read it below:

The first three years have provided us with a multi-faceted domestic and international experience which also lays the basis of the agenda for the period ahead of us, both for the ANC and the rest of the progressive movement of our country.

The purpose of this Political Report is to reflect on these matters. Hopefully, it will also assist Conference as it formulates both our policy positions and the programme of action that will guide our activities in the period up to our next Conference at the end of the 20th Century.

What are these matters?

The Principal Issues

The first of these is that – the principal result of our revolution, the displacement of the apartheid political order by a democratic system, has become an established fact of South African society.

Secondly – the majority of our people have chosen the national liberation movement, led by the ANC, as the political force that should lead our country as it goes through its post-apartheid process of reconstruction and development.

Thirdly – the challenges of creating a people-centred society, of living up to the vision contained in the Freedom Charter, requires that all elements of South African society be subjected to genuine reconstruction and development.

Fourth – that process of reconstruction and development will also have to encompass the spiritual life of the nation, bearing on the moral renewal of individuals and institutions, as well as the ideas and practice of a new patriotism.

Fifth – the success of our process of reconstruction and development will, to a good extent, depend on the peoples of our region of Southern Africa and Africa as a whole themselves achieving the same goals that we pursue, of democracy, peace, prosperity and social progress, within the context of an African Renaissance.

Sixth – we have to succeed in our objectives in the context of an accelerated process of globalisation which is leading to a greater integration of the nations of the world, the limitation of the sovereignty of states and the enhancement of the disparities between the rich and the poor.

Seventh – we have to construct our system of international relations in a manner consistent with our domestic programme of reconstruction and development and our vision of a world of democracy, peace, prosperity and social progress for all.

Eighth – the objective of reconstruction and development cannot be achieved unless the ANC and the rest of the progressive movement of ourcountry are strong and united around the realisation of clear policy objectives which actually result in reconstruction and development.

This Political Report will therefore focus on these matters as they have impacted on South African life in the last three years.

Stabilisation of democracy

Our democratic system is now three-and-half years old. Nothing has happened since our last Conference which threatened its survival.

In other words, there has been no open and serious counter-revolutionary offensive which sought to reverse this historic victory of our national liberation struggle.

Neither have any serious mistakes been made by the democratic movement itself, which would create the conditions for the rejection of the new order by the masses of our people.

Further, there has been no breakdown in the system of governance. Whatever the limitations and occasional mistakes, if any, we have ensured that all organs of state, including the national, provincial and local legislatures and executives, as well as the judicial system, continue to function.

Similarly, we have succeeded to maintain the unity and territorial integrity of the country, having guarded against any serious tendency towards balkanisation, such as would be reflected by an intense conflict around the question of provincial boundaries.

Since the first democratic elections of 1994, free and fair local government elections were held in 1995 and 1996, which produced local legislative and executive organs of government which were accepted as legitimate by the masses of the people.

Since then, a significant number of local by-elections have been held, again in a manner consistent with our goal of ensuring an open and legitimate democratic process.

Last year, the national legislature, acting as a representative Constituent Assembly, and after interacting with millions of our citizens, adopted a Constitution which replace the 1993 Interim Constitution, which had been drafted and legislated into force by structures which had not been elected by the people as a whole.

During these last three years, the Constitutional Court and other echelons of the judiciary have also acted to discharge their responsibility as the guardian of the constitutional order, annulling decisions of both the legislature and the executive where these were in conflict with the Constitution.

In all instances, these authorities of state have respected the decisions of the courts, or relied on the courts for redress, thus contributing to the entrenchment of our democratic system.

We can also say the same thing about other independent organs of state, such as the Public Protector, the Auditor General and the Human Rights Commission.

These important successes do not, however, mean that the obligation to defend, advance and deepen democracy has disappeared and that anti-democratic forces of counter-revolution no longer exist in our society.

Indeed, one of the reasons why we have not seen these forces raise their ugly head more forcefully, has been the fact that our programme of reconstruction and development is at its early stages.

Consequently, because we have just begun, the process of fundamental social transformation has not yet impacted seriously on the apartheid paradigm which affects all aspects of our lives.

This process has therefore not yet tested the strength of the counter-offensive which would seek to maintain the privileges of the white minority.

However, the desire to maintain these privileges has been demonstrated consistently during the period since our last Conference.

This is exemplified, for instance, by the determined effort to define the process of national reconciliation, which our movement has sought to encourage in the national interest, in a manner that would result in the protection of the positions of those who were privileged by the apartheid system.

Accordingly, during the last three years, the opponents of fundamental change have sought to separate the goal of national reconciliation from the critical objective of social transformation.

In many instances, they have sought to set these one against the other, with a view to the elevation of the first of these aims to a position of hegemony, with national reconciliation defined as being characterised by such measures as would compensate the white minority for the loss of its monopoly of political power by guaranteeing its privileged positions in the socio-economic sphere.

In the detail, we have seen this reflected in the assertion that our programme of affirmative action to address the racial disparities we inherited from the apartheid system, is permissible and can be pursued, provided that it is carried out within such bounds as would be acceptable to those who occupy positions of privilege.

Thus, whenever we have sought real progress through affirmative action, the spokespersons of the advantaged have not hesitated to try foul, citing all manner of evil – such as racism, violation of the constitution, nepotism, dictatorship, inducing a brain drain and frightening the foreign investor.

When he had to dealt with this very same question of racial equality, the then President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, had this to say:

“We seek not just freedom but opportunity – not just legal equity but human ability – not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.”

In truth, the debate on these issues in our own country has not reached the level of honesty and sophistication achieved in the United States more than three decades ago, when, at Howard University in June 1965, President Johnson uttered the words we have just cited, motivated by the adoption in this own country of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Further, even a cursory study of the positions adopted by the mainly white parties is the national legislature during the last three years, the National Party, the Democratic Party and the Freedom Front will show that they and the media which represents the same social base, have been most vigorous in their opposition, whenever legislative and executive measures have been introduced, seeking the end the racial disparities which continue to characterise our society.

Equally, we have experienced serious resistance to the transformation of the public service, with representatives of the old order using all means in their power to ensure that they remain in dominant positions.

Some among these owe no loyalty to the new constitutional and political order nor to the government of the day, and have no intention to implement our government’s programmes aimed at reconstruction and development.

At the same time, the former ruling establishment has refused to co-operate with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, especially with regard to telling the truth about the National Security Management System it had established as a comprehensive and last ditch mechanism to protect the criminal apartheid system, including the informers, agents and operatives who were such an important part of this system.

The reason for this is that the defenders of apartheid privilege continue to sustain a conviction that an opportunity will emerge in future, when they can activate this counter-insurgency machinery, to impose an agenda on South African society which would limit the possibilities of the democratic order to such an extent that it would not be able to create a society of equality, that would be rid of the legacy of apartheid.

During the period under review, the counter-revolution has also sought to regroup to create the possibility for itself to act decisively to compromise the democratic system at whatever moment it considered opportune.

Accordingly, various elements of the former ruling group have been working to establish a network which would launch or intensify a campaign of destabilisation, some of whose features would be:

the weakening of the ANC and its allies; the use of crime to render the country ungovernable; the subversion of the economy; and the erosion of the confidence of both our people and the rest of the world in our capacity both to govern and to achieve our goals of reconstruction and development.

This counter-revolutionary network, which is already active and bases itself on those in the public administration and others in other sectors of our society who have not accepted the reality of majority rule, is capable of carrying out very disruptive actions. It measures its own success by the extent to which it manages to weaken the democratic order.

Consistent with the objectives we have just mentioned, it has engaged in practical activities since our last Conference which include:

the encouragement and commission of crime; the weakening and incapacitation of the state machinery, including the theft of public assets, arms and ammunition being among these; the hiding of sensitive and important information from legal organs of state; and the building of alternative structures, including intelligence machineries as well as armed formations.

Evidence also exists that elements of this counter-revolutionary conspiracy have established or are maintaining a variety of international contacts.

Some of these are neo-fascist groupings. Others are old contracts established during the years of the international isolation of apartheid South Africa.

And yet others belong among establishment forces which, for one reason or another, are afraid of and are opposed to the fundamental transformation of our society.

Despite all this, it would be correct to say that the overwhelming majority of both our own people and the peoples of the world remain committed to the defence of the democratic system in our country and would be ready to act in pursuit of this goal whenever the need arose for them to express that commitment in action.

Our experience of democracy over the last three years also points to the fact that we still have to address adequately a number of problems that are relevant to the very character of this democracy.

One of these is the translation into practice of the concept expressed in the Freedom Charter in the words – “The People shall Govern” – and more recently, in the concept of a people-driven process of change.

The difficulty around this issue has sometimes been explained as the contradiction between representative democracy and participatory democracy.

Where the people have freely elected representatives to govern and have the right and possibility to change such representatives, what need is there for these elected representatives to seek a popular mandate for every decision they have to make!

But if they do not seek such mandates, how do we avoid the development of an elite, alienated from the people, that, during its five years in office, will implement policies which, in reality, do not represent the will of the people!

In our circumstances, this is related to the two questions of the possibility of representatives elected on a party list system to represent distinct geographic constituencies and the issue of the possibility of such representatives to abandon their parties and “cross the floor” or form their own parties.

All these are matters that require further discussion to which this Conference must attend, informed by the twin realities of our commitment to the deepening of democracy, predicated on the empowerment of the citizen to impact on governance, and our sensitivity to the realities of our situation, which calls for dynamic stability interacting with the imperative for change.

At another level, we have to consider these matters in the context of the impact of the continuing technological revolution on communication and information, which results in the enhancement of the ability of the citizens and non-governmental organisations to intervene in the process of governance on an informed basis, independent of information provided and opinions propagated by political parties and state institutions.

As a movement, we would not consider this development as a threat to either the professional politician or the public service manager. Rather, it enhances the possibility for the realisation of the demand that “the people shall govern”.

Nevertheless, the force of inertia would suggest that the most likely response of both the politician and the public servant would be to defend their positions as the mediators, the prism through which the interpretation of reality and the posing of policy options to the citizen, must necessarily traverse.

Put crudely, precisely at the point when the process of social development confers “sovereign” powers of decision-making to the citizen, and because of this, the politician and the public servant will or may be driven to argue that “the man in the street” is incapable of governing himself without the intervention of the professionals.

Obviously, the matter we are raising is relevant not only to ourselves, but is a vexed question which impacts on the functioning of all democracies throughout the world.

Returning to our own reality we must make the point that our experience of the last three years points to the importance of non-governmental organisations (NGO’s), community-based organisations (CBO’s) and grassroots-based political formations in ensuring popular participation in governance.

The effective and admirable way in which many of these structures have functioned has served to emphasise the point that, in many instances, the public service, however efficient it may be, may not be the best instrument to mobilise for popular involvement and participation.

However, we must also draw attention to the fact that many of our non-governmental organisations are not in fact NGO’s, both because they have no popular base and the actuality that they rely on the domestic and foreign governments, rather than the people, for their material sustenance.

As we continue the struggle to ensure a people-driven process of social transformation, we will have to consider the reliability of such NGO’s as a vehicle to achieve this objective.

The success achieved by many CBO’s based on the contribution of “sweat equity” by very poor communities, points to the need for us seriously to consider the matter of the nature of the so-called organs of civil society.

Another matter relevant to the aim of entrenching and deepening democracy is the unresolved question of the role of the traditional leaders, especially in the context of the establishment of a democratic system of local government and the impact of traditional African societies on the formation of the new South Africa.

The departure of the National Party from the Government of National Unity in 1996 also brought to the fore the contradiction that derives from the need for the various political formations in our country to act together to promote a national consensus in the context of, and as opposed, to the felt imperative of especially the minority parties to act on their own account, in order to maintain their individual identity in the eyes of the electorate.

Institutionally, this found expression in the concept of a “government of national unity” reflected in the composition of the executives and the leadership of the legislative structures at all three levels of government.

The reality of the last three years is that the white parties have essentially decided against the pursuit of a national agenda. Rather, they have chosen to propagate a reactionary, dangerous and opportunist position which argues that:

a normal and stable democracy has been achieved; the apartheid system is a thing of the past; their legitimate responsibility is to oppose us as the majority party, this to present themselves as elements of a shadow government which has no responsibility both for our past and our presents; and consequently, that they have a democratic obligation merely to discredit the ruling party, so that they may gain power after the next elections.

The delegates will readily recognise the fallacy of these arguments. They will draw on their own practical experiences, which will have demonstrated to all of us how much this approach, driven by partisan interests, undermines the effort to consolidate a stable non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous democracy in our country.

As we have said, the issue of how to address commonly defined national objectives in a united manner, while protecting the identities and public appeal of the separate political parties and formations, remains a matter which only the future will be able to resolve.

We have failed to achieve this result during the last three years.

The answer to this and other undecided questions must form part of the policies we elaborate at this Conference, to ensure that the important victory of the liberation movement to establish a democratic order, serves as a basis for the defence and advancement of our revolutionary gains.

We would also like to report that during the last three years, we allocated a particular responsibility to the Presidency, and therefore the necessary capacity, to ensure that the entirety of our Government focuses of the questions of the emancipation of women, youth development, the rights of the child and the empowerment and development of the disabled.

We took this decision because we are convinced that forward movement in these areas is central to the very nature of our democracy and is not a mere matter of partisan political programmes.

It has been a fundamental feature of our policy for many years that ours could not be a genuine democracy unless the complete emancipation of women was an inherent part of any process of democratisation.

It is critical that this commitment should find expression in actual programmes that address the gender question in a way which enables us to measure progress actually achieved.

We are therefore pleased that, in the last three years, we have succeeded to establish the Commission for Gender Equality and the Office on the Status of Women in the Presidency, as well as adopt as Government, the Beijing Platform of Action dedicated to the goal of the emancipation of women.

Similarly responding to the other matters we have mentioned as being fundamental to the very nature of our democracy, we have:

established the National Youth Commission within the Presidency, which has now elaborated a national Programme for Youth Development; established an Office on the Status of the Disabled, again within the Presidency, and adopted the first ever White Paper spelling out an integrated policy for the upliftment of the disabled; and, ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and constituted a permanent Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Rights of the Child, headed by the Presidency.

These matters will continue to receive the focused attention of the Government as part of the defining feature of the people-centred democracy we are committed to create.

We will return to some of the issues raised in this Section under other Sections of this Political Report.

ANC in Government

We now turn to the second major subject of this Report, viz the fact that the people have chosen our movement as the government of South Africa.

As the Conference is aware, the confidence our people have in the ANC, demonstrated throughout our years of struggle and the 1994 elections, was confirmed in the local government elections held in 1995 and 1996.

It would also be true to say that our own direct contact wit the masses of the people throughout the country, during the last three years, has continued to indicate that this popular confidence has not been dented.

It is however also true that we are still faced wit the challenge of increasing our support among all three national minorities.

It is clear that the majority within these national minorities continue to believe that the ANC represents the interests of the African majority and that their own perceived interests stand opposed to those of the African majority.

This is a direct hangover from the apartheid years during which the policies of the racist ruling group discriminated against this majority, in favour of the national minorities, especially the whites.

It is as a result of this racist practice that the view has emerged that where apartheid benefited the national minorities, a non-racial democracy would disadvantage them.

Such imagined disadvantage would range from economic and employment opportunities to language and cultural rights.

The Conference is aware that the National Party, in particular, has continued to exploit this apartheid legacy to present itself as the political representative of the national minorities.

In this regard and characteristically, it raises the spectre of a “swart gevaar” to frighten these sections of our population to its ranks unashamedly using the apartheid years of racist policies as justification for the argument that the national minorities should entrust their future to the party of apartheid.

As we can expect, among the Coloureds an Indians, the view that the non-racial democracy constitutes as threat would be most prevalent among the working class and the lower middle class, who would be the first to feel the pressure of African competition in the context of a deracialised labour market.

It is among these sectors of the population that we find the greatest fear of the impact of our policy of affirmative action.

This has required especially of the principal political forces that we agree on a common, multi-party agenda of transformation that these forces would advance and defend, in the interests of the medium and long term future of our democratic, united, non-racial and non-sexist country.

Accordingly, each on of these forces would, as part of this agreement, promote this agenda even when its particular constituency felt that such an agenda did not serve its immediate interests.

Clearly, the promotion of the concept of united national action, designed to bring together all political parties so that we can ensure the greatest unity around the fundamental issues facing our society, must therefore, also take into account the desire of three parties not to seen as lackeys of the ANC.

During these past three years, it has been a basic tenet of our approach that despite our people’s achievement in stabilising the democratic settlement, we are still involved in a delicate process of nursing the new-born baby into a state of adulthood.

It is therefore clear that we continue to be faced with the major challenge to sustain our political work among the national minorities focusing on the two issues of:

educating them both about our policies and the country’s constitutional framework, which requires of government that it pursues non-discriminatory policies and provides for the protection and promotion of language, cultural and religious rights; and; urging them to be active participants in, and not passive objects of the process of determining the future of our country, including the “resolution” of the national question.

It has also become clear during the past three years that elements among the former ruling group, especially among the Afrikaners, suffers from a sense of disempowerment and marginalisation from the centres of political power.

Put in other words, these elements find it difficult to redefine their role in the setting of a non-racial democracy. They continue to be imprisoned by notions of white supremacy and of supposed Afrikaner interests that are separate and opposed to the interest of the rest of the population.

To advance their interests, they use every opportunity to present their “disempowerment and marginalisation” as being the disempowerment and marginalisation of the Afrikaner population as a whole.

Thus they seek to mobilise especially the Afrikaner population against the non-racial democracy, to force the democratic order to introduce a system of government net based on majority, rule, but on an entrenched process of co-determination with those who would, in one way or another, be selected as the political representatives of the Afrikaners.

What this points to is the need for us to increase our political work among the whites in general and the Afrikaner population in particular. This work should draw in all sectors of our broad movement, including the progressive trade union movement.

It is generally true that in the last three years, inadvertently and unconsciously, we have tended to surrender these sections of our people to the white political parties, on the basis that it was unlikely that we could persuade them to join our electoral support base.

Once again, we must emphasise the point that one of the national responsibilities of our movement is to mobilise all sectors of our population actively to participate in the process of determining the future of our country, without necessarily expecting that they should become active supporters of the ANC.

Efforts have also been made during the last three years to use the traditional leaders against our movement, especially in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

All this emphasises the need for us to agree on a clear and consistent policy with regard to the institution of traditional leadership and to popularise this policy among the population in general.

Our work in this regard will be greatly assisted by the positions agreed at our Policy Conference held at the beginning of last month.

We must also make the point that our work in this area has not been assisted by the positions and activities of some sections within the broad democratic movement which, in reality, have sought the destruction of the institution of traditional leadership, on the basis that this institution was incompatible with a democratic political system.

These historical positions, detached from reality and contemptuous of the views of our rural masses, have nothing to do with the defence and advancement of the democratic revolution. They constitute an infantile radicalism of which the broad democratic movement must rid itself.

They help to create the possibility for the forces of reaction in the countryside to undermine the confidence of the rural masses in our movement.

In its turn, this enhances the ability of reaction to encourage the consolidation of conditions conducive to the expansion of its own influence, for purposes opposed to such genuine transformation of our country as would serve the interests of these rural masses, among others.

We must bear this in mind that it is precisely these masses who demonstrated the greatest loyalty to our movement in the national, provincial and local government elections.

We must also refer to sections on the non-governmental sector which seek to assert that the distinguishing feature of a genuine organisation of civil society is to be a critical “watchdog” over our movement, both inside and outside of government.

Pretending to represent an independent and popular view, supposedly obviously legitimised by the fact that they are described as non-governmental organisations, these NGO’s also work to corrode the influence of the movement.

Strangely, some of the argument for this so-called “watchdog” role was advanced from within the ranks of the broad democratic movement, at the time when we all arrived at the decision that with the unbanning of the ANC and other democratic organisations, it was necessary to close down the UDF.

Thus we ended up with the situation in which certain elements, which were assumed to be part of our movement, set themselves up as critics of the same movement, precisely at the moment when we would have to confront the challenge of the fundamental transformation of our country and therefore, necessarily, the determined opposition of the forces of reaction.

They lack the issue-driven mass base that is the defining feature of any real NGO and are therefore unable to raise funds from the people themselves.

This has also created the possibility for some of these NGO’s to act as instruments of foreign governments and institutions that fund them to promote the interests of these external forces.

For example, a “Review of the U.S.Aid Program in South Africa” dated November 5, 1996 and prepared by two members of the staff of the US House of Representatives, Lester Munson and Phillip Christenson, has this to say on this matter:

“AID’s program is not so much support for the Mandela government as support for AID’s undisclosed political activities within the South African domestic political arena involving the most difficult, controversial issues in South Africa. By funding advocacy groups to monitor and lobby for changes in government policies and even setting up trust funds to pay for legal challenges in court against the new government’s action or inaction, AID is in some respects making President Mandela’s task more difficult.”

Later the Review states:

“Two-thirds of AID’s funding…. is used to fund AID-dependent NGO’s… The Old “struggle NGO’s” have been redesigned by AID as “civil service organisations” (or “CSOs”). AID now funds CSOs to “monitor public policy, provide public information, and advocate policy alternatives” and to serve as “sentinels, brokers and arbiters for the public will. “The purpose of AID funding is to enable these CSOs to “function as effective policy advocacy groups” and “to lobby”… Through its NGOs, AID intends to play a key role in domestic policy concerning the most difficult, controversial issues of national politics. AID’s political agenda is ambitious and extensive.”

Earlier in this Report we referred to issue of the effort at the time of the dissolution of the UDF to set up an NGO “movement” separate from an critical of the ANC.

At the time, the newspaper “Business Day” cited the spokespersons of this effort as explaining the “actions (this movement) might take” in the following terms:

“Firstly, it would ensure that isolated communities would have a channel to voice their grievances. Secondly, it would allow bodies which might normally support the party in power but which disagreed with government on a particular issue a voice unconstrained by political affiliation.”

And more directly, these spokespersons are quoted as saying:

“It would be very wrong and a mistake for the ANC to try to co-opt organisations involved in the UDF. Life must exist, plants must grow outside the ANC.

It is presumably some of these plants that were and perhaps are still being funded by some from outside our country to promote their own political agenda within our country.

The drive to ensure the involvement of civil society and its organisations in the process of governance is an important pillar of our work to translate into reality the concept that “the people shall govern.”

However, the past three years have taught us the lesson that there are NGO’s and NGO’s. As a movement, we have to learn to make this distinction, we have to learn to make this distinction, recognise the great relevance and importance of the Community-based Organisations (CBO’s) and defeat the pressure blindly to accept a Liberal determination of which organisation is an NGO and what role such NGO’s should play.

Similarly, we have to confront the fact that during the last three years, the matter has become perfectly clear that the bulk of the mass media in our country has set itself up as force opposed to the ANC.

In a manner akin to what the National Party is doing in its sphere, this media exploits the dominant positions it achieved as a result of the apartheid system, to campaign against both real change and the real agents of change, as represented by our movement, led by the ANC.

In this context, it also takes advantage of the fact that, thanks to decades of repression and prohibition of a mass media genuinely representative of the voice of the majority of the people of South Africa, this majority has no choice but to rely for information and communication on a media representing the privileged minority.

To protect its own privileged positions, which are a continuation of the apartheid legacy, it does not hesitate to denounce all efforts to ensure its own transformation, consistent with the objectives of a non-racial democracy, as an attack on press freedom.

When it speaks against us, this represents freedom of thought, speech and the press – which the world must applaud!

When we exercise our own right to freedom of thought and speech to criticise it for its failings, this represents an attempt to suppress the freedom of the press -for which the world must punish us!

Thus the media uses the democratic order, brought about by the enormous sacrifices of our own people, as an instrument to protect the legacy of racism, graphically described by its own patterns of ownership, editorial control, value system and advertiser influence.

At the same time, and in many respects, it has shown a stubborn refusal to discharge its responsibility to inform the public.

Consistent with the political posture it has assumed, it has been most vigorous in disseminating such information as it believes serves to discredit and weaken our movement. By this means, despite its professions of support for democracy, it limits the possibility to expand the frontiers of democracy, which would derive from the empowerment of the citizen to participate meaningfully in the process of governance through times access to reliable information.

I know that these comments will be received with a tirade of denunciation, with claims that what we are calling for is a media that acts as a “lapdog” rather than a “watchdog”.

We must reiterate the positions of our movement that we ask for no favours from the media and we expect none. We make no apology for making the demand that the media has a responsibility to society to inform.

Neither do we doubt the correctness of our assessment of the role the media has played in the last three years. All of us know too much about what happens in the newsrooms.

In any case, we have to confront the product of the posture of the media daily. This daily product, reflected in all the media of communication, stands out too stark in its substance to allow us to doubt the conclusions of our analysis.

Conference will have to consider what measures we have to take. In addition to what we are doing already, to improve our communication with our population at large.

In part, this must address the objective of enabling the still disadvantaged millions of our people, who are being deliberately disadvantaged even in the area of access to information, to know what is really happening in and to their country and their future.

Again, this would enable these masses, who sacrificed everything for democracy, including the freedom of the press, to take informed decisions about what they have to do to influence the process of the reconstruction of their own country, including the critical objective of its deracialisation.

Later in this Report, we will discuss the intrusion of this self-same media within our ranks, during the last three years to encourage our own self-destruction, with the active involvement of some who are present here as bona fide delegates to the Conference of a movement to which they owe no loyalty.

At the same time as we consider these matters, we must also reaffirm our commitment to the freedom of the press and demonstrate this in all our practical activities.

We must now, come to the role of the opposition parties in their effort to challenge and undermine our role as the political force chosen by the people to lead our country, as it goes through its post-apartheid process of reconstruction and developments.

These parties see themselves as playing an opposition role to the ruling party in a multi-party democracy.

Our movement, which led the struggle for the defeat of the apartheid regime and the establishment of the new constitutional and political order, respects and defends the right of these parties to play this legal opposition role without let or hindrance.

Equally, we assert our own right to engage these parties in peaceful, political and legal combat in defence of our policies and programmes, also without let or hindrance.

Throughout its years as the ruling party, and before, the National Party consistently pursued the strategic goal of the destruction of our movement and organisation.

When it had the power so to act, it banned our organisation, murdered, tortured, imprisoned and exiled our members and supporters, demonised our movement and allowed itself to limit in the pursuit of the objective of our total destruction.

Some of the truth about all this is now being told through the processes in which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is engaged.

This includes the callous exploitation of the religious sensibilities of many who served in the apartheid security forces, to convince them to view and therefore deal with us as the anti-Christ.

Our experience over the last three years confirms that the National Party has not abandoned its strategic objective of the total destruction of our organisation and movement. The leopard has not changed its spots.

Its only problem is that it lacks the power it once had, to pursue this aim. Accordingly, it is involved in a desperate search to find the ways and means to destroy its historic enemy, to enable it to discharge its responsibility of defending white privilege.

All we need to do to understand the correctness of this thesis, is to study the positions the National Party has adopted inside and outside parliament, during the last three years, with regard both to our policy positions and to our movement itself.

Again, as we have already indicated, with regard to the first of these, this Party has put up the most determined opposition to all the legislative and White Paper initiatives we have taken to effect the non-racial transformation of our country.

This has included reliance on instruments of last resort, such as the obstruction of the passage of transformative legislation by appealing to the Constitutional Court. The withdrawal of the National Party from the Government of National Unity in 1996 constituted its own statement that it could not coexist, within the same government, with a political formation towards which it harboured feelings of implacable enmity.

The story it told of its inability to influence government policy was entirely fictional.

As a result, the more honest among its members, who occupied executive positions and were driven by the desire to protect the interests of both the Afrikaners and the rest of the population, did not support the decision to pull out of the GNU.

Forgetting its earlier assertion that within the GNU it was powerless, the National Party nevertheless presented a contrary argument towards the end of this year with regard to one of the Education Bills. In this instance, it argued that it wanted this Bill to be phrased in a form consistent with what it had negotiated while it served within the GNU.

But so strong was its antipathy towards our movement that, in pulling out of the GNU, it was ready to sacrifice its most far-sighted and open-minded members and leaders, to reinforce the tendency towards the consolidation of the National Party around the most reactionary positions it could take within our non-racial democracy.

Its determination to abide by its old strategic position is also reflected in the manner in which it has treated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

We refer here not only to the refusal of its leaders to take responsibility for their share in the commission of gross human rights violations. We draw attention to its absolute refusal to disclose the counter-insurgency machinery of repression it had put in place in its effort to protect the apartheid system, the National Security Management System.

We have made presentations to the TRC to indicate that this machinery was never dismantled, and therefore remains available to this day to those in our country who were part of the apartheid security forces and are still interested in engaging in anti-democratic activity.

The question has not been answered as to why the National Party has gone to the lengths it has to ensure that the truth is not known about the System and those who were integrated within it. Over the last three years, the National Party has continued to wage a struggle to hold on to its support among the white population in the first place, but also among the Coloureds and Indians.

To ensure that it insulates these sections of our population from our influence, it has continued to rely on its traditional resort to the use of fear. As before, it has continued to frighten the national minorities against the ANC by threatening them with both a “swart gevaar” (black danger) and a “rooi gevaar” (red danger).

The use of the instruments of fear is most prominent in the political positions taken by its leaders in the Western Cape. Daily, this leadership propagates the entirely false notion that our policies are aimed at promoting the interests of the Africans against those of both the whites and the Coloureds.

Accordingly, they argue, the national government is actually denying the provincial government its legitimate share of national revenues, deliberately to worsen the standard of living of both the Colours and the whites.

With its recent decision to exclude the ANC from the Western Cape provincial government, the National Party has taken its deeply held positions to their logical conclusion. Naturally, as a representative of the same white interests which the National Party represents, the Democratic Party has elected to join forces with the NP in the Western Cape.

This occurs precisely at the moment when it is striving at the national level, in the after-math of its municipal by-election victories against the NP, dishonestly to present itself as an opponent of the very same National Party with which it is entering into coalition in the Western Cape.

As the country knows, the Democratic Party has sought to present itself as the most effective parliamentary opposition to the ANC.

Knowing that it has no possibility to attract the masses of the disadvantaged of our country, the Democratic Party, which has no policy differences with the NP, has sought to position itself as an implacable enemy of the ANC, and on this basis, to try to convince the supporters of the National Party to switch their allegiance to itself. It therefore has no choice but itself to adopt reactionary positions aimed at protecting the privileges of the constituency it is struggling to secure for itself.

Accordingly, the NP and the DP are engaged in a desperate struggle to out-compete each other in a race which they believe will be won by whoever convinces the white minority that they are the most reliable and best defenders of white privilege.

Where this competition becomes counter-productive to the fundamental objectives of these two parties of white privilege, they show no hesitation to combine efforts as they are about the do as the government of the Western Cape.

Similarly, and not surprisingly, they both believe that their fortunes lie not so much in policies they can propagate, but in their success in projecting themselves as tireless fighters for the defeat of the ANC.

We say not surprisingly, because, in reality over the last three years, neither of these parties has produced any credible policies with which they can challenge the vision for the renewal of our country contained in our Reconstruction and Development Programme.

Indeed, we must expect that even in the forthcoming campaign for the 1999 elections, these parties will base their offensive not on any policy alternatives but on vilification of the ANC.

For its part, the Freedom Front has remained imprisoned in its narrow nationalist pursuit of so-called “Afrikaner self-determination”.

However, the Freedom Front has also recognised the fact that it can only advance its cause by reaching agreement with the ANC.

Because the correct solution of the national question in our country remains at the centre of the mission of our movement, we have continued and will maintain our dialogue with the Freedom Front to address the legitimate cultural, language and other concerns of those among the Afrikaner people who have these concerns.

The latest political grouping to join the miserable platoon of opponents of our movement is the United Democratic Movement of Bantu Holomisa and Roelf Meyer, former bed-fellows as functionaries of the apartheid system and its security forces.

Once more, this grouping predicates its success not on any challenge to our policies. It hopes and prays for significant dissatisfaction among our supporters, occasioned by any failure on our part to implement these policies.

More vigorously than the Democratic Party, it also seeks to convince some supporters of the National Party that the UDM offers a more credible non-racial political home than the NP.

Inevitably, it will draw into its ranks some of the most backward and corrupt elements in our society which have no interest whatsoever in promoting the interests of the people. Thus, the presence of leaders of criminal gangs at its founding conference was no accident.

We must also expect that some from this group will seek to promote its interests by resort to criminal violence against the people, especially members and supporters of the ANC and the rest of the democratic movement.

At the same time, efforts will be made to infiltrate agents of the UDM into the structures of our movement to try to destroy us from within and to gather information which will be used to try to discredit the movement.

Furthermore, elements of the Third Force will not hesitate to link up with members of the UDM to further a common counter-revolutionary agenda.

Ultimately, the objectives of the United Democratic Movement and the National Party, in particular, converge around the one objective critical to both – the destruction of the ANC. As it happens, the leaders of both groups owe their political origins to a common apartheid home.

It is inevitable that, in the course, they will coalesce into one formation.

We serve in the national and KwaZulu-Natal governments with the Inkatha Freedom Party. These governments are working well without any serious tensions, regardless of the differences that exist between us and the IFP, on various questions.

Further, our two organisations are involved in a joint effort to consolidate peace in the country and to encourage a culture of tolerance and non-violent political competition among our respective members and supporters.

More fundamentally, our two organisations have a responsibility to co-operate to ensure the achievement of the objectives contained in the Reconstruction and Development Programme, which they have jointly striven to attain over the last three years, as the government of our country.

We also need to recall that many members of the IFP grew up in the ANC and many of the people the IFP leads were educated in the politics of the African National Congress. Furthermore we share the same constituency, especially the rural and urban poor.

All this argues for the need for both the ANC and the IFP not to allow whatever issues they disagree about, to stand in the way of their Cupertino to achieve the genuine emancipation of all our people.

The challenge continues to confront both AZAPO and the PAC to abandon the illusion that, as organisations, they can be significant factors in the continuing struggle for the genuine liberation of the people.

The decision finally to play a constructive role in this struggle rests which the members of these organisations.

The prophets of doom have re-emerged in our country. In 1994, these predicted that the transition to democracy would be attended by a lot of bloodshed.

Disappointed in their expectations by what actually happened, they nevertheless never abandoned their resolve to spread despair. The pivot of their offensive is that the history of Africa is a history of failure and disaster.

Accordingly, they adhere to the openly racist position that a South Africa led by the African National Congress and no longer under white minority rule, will, inevitably sink into failure and disaster.

And so they go about their business to high-light and elevate anything that is negative. Neither do they hesitate to tell lies or to invent stories so long as this advances their purposes.

They also work in a determined manner to ensure that the truth is never told about the important advances that have been and are being made to improve the standard of living and the quality of life of all South Africans.

Their task is to spread messages about an impending economic collapse, escalating corruption in the public service, rampant and uncontrollable crime, a massive loss of skills through white emigration and mass demoralisation among the people either because they are white and therefore threatened by the ANC and its policies which favour black people, or because they are black and consequently forgotten because the ANC is too busy protecting white privilege.

A massive propaganda campaign has been conducted on the issue of crime, in many instances without any regard and respect for the truth. We will ourselves discuss this matter because of our own serious concern radically to bring down the levels of crime. However, what is necessary is that anybody genuinely committed to this goal should make an objective study of this problem and avoid the serious distortions which result from this exploitation of this issue for partisan political purposes.

Such a study for example will show that for Johannesburg murder, attempted murder and culpable homicide taken together, have been declining steadily since 1994. Facts and figures actually disprove the notion that there has been a rapid escalation of these crimes and confirm that we inherited the high levels of these crimes from the apartheid system.

This study would also show that these crimes occur in the black and the white lower income-group areas. Murder in the wealthier and therefore white areas of Johannesburg accounts for around 10 per cent of the total for the city as a whole.

Accordingly and first and foremost, the murder and related figures reflect the desperate socio-economic condition of the communities with a high incidence of these crimes which can only be brought down significantly as these conditions of life of the people in these areas improve in a meaningful and sustained manner.

Calls for the restoration of the death penalty are, in reality, calls to hang those who are black and poor and who, in the main, commit murder among themselves. Those who make this demand seek to deny the fact that it is the dehumanising poverty imposed on the people by the apartheid system which generates this crime.

This study will also show that the murders which occur in the relatively prosperous white areas, as well as instances of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, have virtually no connection with robbery and theft in all their forms, including car highjacking, where these occur in these white areas.

Again, the propaganda put out of a rapid escalation of murders in these areas as a result of the escalation of the crime of robbery is not borne out by the facts. The image projected that merely to walk in the streets in these white areas is to invite death and that this has been the case since 1994, is entirely false.

We can also make similar observations about these matters as they affect the Cape Town Metropole.

More recently, we have also been subjected to a tremendous barrage of propaganda and threats of vigilance action occasioned by the murder of white farmers. Again, the truth about this matter is studiously and systematically suppressed for political reasons.

In the period January 1 to November 24 this year, 51 crimes occurred on the Free State farms. During the commission of these crimes, 14 murders occurred, with only 3 known instances in which the motive was murder. Arrests have been made for 11 of these murders.

To illustrate the seriousness with which the Police Service has treated these crimes, the success rate achieved in terms of arrests and convictions amounts to around 85 per cent. The propaganda that the Government and Police are doing nothing is again entirely without substance.

But in the battle to serve narrow partision interests, our opponents do not hesitate to sacrifice the truth.

As part of this same campaign, horror books are being published about what will happen “when Mandela goes”, to advance this agenda of gloom and doom on which the enemies of real progress and social transformation rely to create the conditions for the defeat of the ANC, so that they are better able to ensure that no progress and no transformation occur.

All this emphasises the point that for us, the challenge remains to discharge our responsibilities to the people to continue to lead our country as it traverses its historically decisive period of reconstruction and development.

In this context, we must refer to the issue of what has, in the general vocabulary, come to be known as “delivery”. Our opponents make the false accusation, based on a refusal by the mass media to tell the truth, that since our election into government in 1994, we have “failed to deliver”.

The reality that the masses of our people’s experience is that:

the formerly oppressed are now governing themselves; the homeless are being housed; those without access to modern power are gaining access to electricity; millions are no longer condemned to travel long distances to fetch unhealthy, unprocessed water for personal and domestic use; the formerly oppressed are gaining access to free and adequate medical services; many among the very poor, including children and the elderly, who had formerly been excluded now have access to welfare benefits; people who had been forcibly removed from their land are regaining their land; and greater numbers of people are gaining access to education at all levels.

As the capacity of the state administration improves and we manage to generate more resources, while maintaining fiscal discipline, so will we do more to address the people’s needs, consistent with our commitment to provide a better life for all.

This leads us to the consideration of the third theme among the subjects of this Political Report. This is the need for the fundamental transformation of all sectors of our society.

Reconstruction and Development

Perhaps one of the most dramatic and important lessons we have learnt in the last three years is that all elements of our society reflect and are characterised by the three hundred years of the colonial and apartheid domination of our country.

Our movement, the leadership that is gathered here, in whose hands rests much of the future of our country for many years, needs to understand this in a deep and comprehensive way, that the country we have inherited is essentially structured in a manner which denies us the possibility to achieve the goal of creating a new people-centred society.

Accordingly, the realisation of this objective, from which we will not depart, requires that we work to transform our country, fundamentally. The accomplishment of this task requires that we should all be made in the metal of revolutionaries.

The one component of South African society we have found easiest to change has been the legislative instructions at all three levels, as already discussed in this Report. This we did through the holding of democratic elections.

Having been elected into government, one of the first things that was very clear to us is that we cannot effectively use our access to political power to effect a fundamental transformation of our society by relying on the old apartheid state machinery.

One of the central tasks of the democratic revolution is the abolition of the apartheid state and its replacement by a democratic state. A complicating factor is that we must accomplish this task at the same time as we continue to use the existing state machinery to implement our programmes.

This emphasises the urgency of achieving decisive movement forward with regard to the creation of the democratic state. Work has been going on within the movement to elaborate the necessary theoretical framework relating to the nature and the role of such a state.

This is important because we must avoid an ad hoc approach to this critical question, bearing in mind that many of the questions we have to address about the state are not unique to our country, but occupy the attention of many others in all parts of the world.

We must move with greater speed to complete this theoretical work so that we can tackle our work of building the new democratic state more energetically and systematically.

Many of the problems we have experienced over the last three years with regard to the implementation of our programmes have arisen from the fact that we had to rely on the old apartheid state machinery.

These problems range from faster delivery of social services, through crime prevention and combating, to the management of public finances and the collection of state revenues.

However, this is not to say that everybody from the old is bad.

Indeed, many are carrying out sterling work to serve the people.

These, both black and white, are working hard within the public service and the security organs to promote the objectives contained both in our constitution and in new legislation and the programmes of our government.

This also extends to other people outside of the state system, again both black and white, who have not hesitated both to co-operate with the new government and to assist in ensuring that we have an effective system of democratic governance.

But the point remains true that the state institutions of the past and some of the people who served in those institutions cannot be expected to constitute an effective and loyal part of the new.

As we elaborate our positions on the nature and role of the democratic state, the following are some of the issues we will have to address:

identification of the national and class forces the democratic state represents; the democratic state and the management of the contradictions inherent in our society; the developmental role of the state and the reorientation of the civil servants; legalised force and the democratic state; the participation of the masses and civil society in the process of governance; the continuing scientific and technological revolution in information and communication and its impact on the relationship between the individual and the state; the state and capital; and, the state, national sovereignty and globalisation.

But once more, we must emphasise that the fact that we continue to focus on the complex work of defining the nature and role of the democratic state, must not result in a delay in attending to the critical issue of the creation of the democratic state.

As we discuss this matter at this Conference, we must also deal with the reality that the creation of the democratic state is part of our continuing struggle. The process of the creation of this state will meet the determined resistance of some within our country, especially those who stand to lose something from the abolition of the apartheid state.

The trade unions, and in particular the public sector unions, will be an important player in this process. An especial challenge will face the progressive public sector unions which will have to balance their obligations to the revolutionary transformation of our country and their necessary and legitimate commitment to the exclusive interests of their members.

Since we came into government, one of the matters that has become clear is that one of the principal instruments of government that we had inherited, the national budget, was inherently structured in such a way that it was impossible for the democratic government speedily to bring about the social changes to which we are committed.

An enormous and heroic effort has gone into the struggle to reprioritise the budget so that the democratic order could address various tasks, including:

releasing funds for social upliftment and development by reducing recurrent spending, including servicing the public debt, in favour of capital expenditure and therefore the expansion of the infrastructure so as to improve the quality of life of the people; deracialising the patterns of public spending; ensuring that the state does not appropriate such a proportion of the gross national product and in such a manner as would impact negatively on the possibility for us to achieve high and sustainable rates of economic growth and development and, collecting the revenues legally due to this national Revenue Fund, to finance the transformation and other commitments to which our government and society are obligated.

Among other things, this has necessitated that we take the important decision to reduce the budget deficit to more manageable levels.

In the short term this results in a shrinkage of the resources available to government to finance the variety of programmes to which we are committed in terms of the perspectives spelt out in our Reconstruction and Development Programme.

Indeed, the opposition that has been expressed from within the broad democratic movement to our “GEAR” programme announced by government in the middle of the past year, is, in reality, focused on this particular element of our economic policy.

We will return to this matter later in this Report.

Another important element of our policy is the deracialisation of the economy to ensure that, among other things, in its ownership and management, this economy increasingly reflects the racial composition of our society.

There are, of course, other challenges that we face with regard to the economy. These include:

its modernisation with regard to technology, managerial skill and productivity; increasing its international competitiveness especially with regard to our non-gold and manufactured exports; reducing the relative importance of raw materials and agricultural products in the composition of both the GNP and our export product-mix; integrating the Southern African economies and strengthening South-South economic relations; and fully integrating ours into the world economy and exploiting the possibilities created by the emergence of the information society; and setting our economy on a high and sustainable growth path which would result in the elimination of poverty and unemployment and the continuous upliftment of the standard of living and quality of life of all our people.

Let us, however, return to the matter integral to the achievement of these objectives – the deracialisation of the South African economy.

While some very limited progress has been made in this area, it is clear that a major and determined effort will have to be made by both the public and the private sectors to realise this objective.

In particular, we will have to focus on three areas, namely:

further elaboration of policy options to address this issue more effectively and expeditiously; evolution and firm implementation of programmes affecting both the government and parastatals to bring about sustained change: and, engaging the private sector itself to take on this matter, informed by the understanding that the perpetuation of the apartheid patterns of economic ownership and control constitutes a recipe for an enormous social and political explosion in future.

The important point is that we must integrate this in our strategy that the deracialisation of ownership of productive property, and the facilitation of the participation of black people in this process, is an essential part of our perspectives.

Further, we must deal with this matter in the context of the wider, and critical struggle of our era, to secure an acceptance and actualisation of the proposition that while capital might be owned privately, yet there must be an institutionalised system of social accountability for the owners of capital.

In this context, it may very well be that the success of our strategy for black economic empowerment will address not only the objective of the creation of a non-racial South Africa.

It might also be relevant to the creation of the system according to which the owners of capital would, willingly, understand and accept the idea that business success can no longer be measured solely by reference to profit.

According to this thesis, to which we must subscribe, success must also be measured with reference to a system of social accountability for capital which reflects its impact both on human existence and the quality of that existence.

In a lecture given earlier this year, Swedish Government minister, Pierre Schorri said:

“The winners (of globalisation) are a global elite – companies, countries and people, accumulating enormous powers and riches.”

“The trend is probably strongest within business: today five companies control more than 50 percent of the global market in branches such as the automotive industry, aerospace, electricity and electronics. Five corporations control more than 40 percent of the global market in oil, personal computers and the media.”

“The same concentration of wealth and power is taking place among nations. The UNDP’s latest report demonstrates how 15 countries are growing explosively fast, and very much benefiting from globalisation. But the facts and figures also show how more than a 100 countries have become poorer than they were 10 to 15 years ago.”

Add to this the decisive impact that the movement of large quantities of short-term capital has had on especially the economies of developing countries, and the conclusion becomes inescapable that a totally unregulated global market, cannot be in the interest even of world-wide sustainable economic growth and development.

Remarkably, the prominent financial capitalist George Sores, has expressed similar concerns, proceeding from a different base.

In an article entitled “The Capitalist Threat” (The Atlantic Monthly: February 1997), he writes as follows:

“By taking the conditions of supply and demand as given and checking government intervention the ultimate evil laissez-faire ideology has effectively banished income of wealth redistribution. Wealth does accumulate in the hands of its owners, and if there is no mechanism for redistribution, the inequities can become intolerable. The laissez-faire argument against income redistribution invokes the doctrine of the survival of the fittest. There is something wrong with making the survival of the fittest a guiding principle of civilised society. Co-operation is as much a part of the (economic) system as competition, and the slogan “survival of the fittest” distorts this fact. There is something contradictory in banishing the state from the economy while at the same time enshrining it as the ultimate source of authority in international relations. Guided by the principle of the survival of the fittest, states are increasingly preoccupied with their competitiveness and unwilling to make any sacrifices for the common good. Our global society lacks the institutions and mechanisms necessary for its preservation, but there is no political will to bring them into existence. I blame the prevailing attitude, which holds that the unhampered pursuit of self-interest will bring about an eventual international equilibrium. I believe this confidence is misplaced.”

The kernel of Soros’ argument is that the situation cannot be sustained in which the future of humanity is surrendered to a so called free market, with government denied the right to intervene in the ordering of economies.

In remarks to the Economic Club of New York, on September 12, 1996, David Rockefeller, member of one of the leading capitalist families of the United States, also expressed his concern about these matters.

Here is some of what he said:

“We (leaders of the business and financial community) must accept the fact that we have responsibilities that are broader than simply running our businesses in an efficient, profitable and ethical manner. We have entered a “New Age” in which our society is in the process of fundamentally transforming the way we live, how we govern ourselves and how we do business. It is in our interest that business play an active role in that transformation process, by reviving his collective sense of corporate social responsibility, a practice that seems to have fallen out of favour in the more competitive, more pressured, some would say “more ruthless” business environment of the latter years of this century.”

Mr Rockefeller continues:

“At the very time government’s role in economic affairs, as urged by all of us, is being scaled back both here and abroad, business appears unwilling to “step up” its commitment to anything but corporate profits … in my opinion, the joy of positive achievement in business should transcend the profit motive. Accomplishing goals that are important for society as well as ourselves, building something that has permanence and value beyond personal or strictly corporate objectives should be at least as important as the imperative of the bottom line. I believe that business leaders must make decisions that positively affect, not only their balance sheets and income statements, but also the needs of their workers and the broader community.”

For his part, George Soros argues that it is necessary that the necessary regulatory mechanisms be established, in part to address the accelerating uneven distribution of wealth and income which accompanies the process of globalisation, within the context of the pursuit of the common good.

We make a similar point when we say that the critical issues raised by the fact that the fate of the world economy is increasingly being decided by a few dozen corporate boards, driven solely by the profit motive and bound by no system of social accountability, require urgent attention and the establishment of the “institutions and mechanisms” to ensure the achievement of a better life for all, which both David Rockefeller and George Soros call for.

According to the UNDP’s “Human Development Report 1977”, the corporate spies of General Motors as well as those of Ford Motor Company exceed our Gross Domestic Product.

This report also says “of the world’s 100 largest economies, 30 are mega- corporations. The 350 largest corporations now account for 40% of global trade…”

We cite all these figures to make the point that the challenge of transformation requires that we address also this important question of capital and society and refuse to be seduced by the false arguments of the free marketeers who would have human society surrender to the economic processes about which such eminent business people as David Rockefeller and George Soros have sounded the alarm.

The fast sphere of social life to which we would like to refer, as an example of what we must do to achieve the reconstruction and development of our country, is the area of human resources development.

It is a matter of common cause among the overwhelming majority of our people that the production of educated and skilled people, is one of the central elements which would enable us to achieve the sustained reconstruction and development which is the very raison d’etre of the democratic revolution.

In the end what we have to produce in this important area is:

a system of education in the schools which directs the young towards competence and excellence in mathematics, the natural and computer sciences, engineering, management and accountancy; high skills levels among the working people, especially in those areas required for modern economic activity; the necessary pool of educators capable of helping us to achieve the two objectives; generally expanding the cadre of intellectuals in all academic disciplines, with special emphasis on the black component; and increasing the national research effort both quantitatively and qualitatively, with the necessary balance between pure and applied research.

To achieve all this will require that the country makes a serious and determined effort focused on institutional transformation and the integration of the work being done in the schools, colleges, technicons, universities, institutes, science councils and the private sector.

Yet those who are committed to the maintenance of white privilege are still engaged in manoeuvres designed to block the deracialisation of our educational institutions, thus directly contributing to delaying the fundamental work that must be done to modernise our entire system of human resource development.

As a movement, we also have a responsibility to influence our intelligentsia in all its echelons, especially its progressive detachments, to understand their place and role during the current phase of the democratic revolution.

On many occasions during the last three years, these detachments, among whom we include the students especially in the institutions of higher education, have seemed alienated from the continuing democratic struggle and driven both by a self-serving anarchist activism, focused on appropriating resources and advantage for themselves at all costs, or struck by a numbed paralysis, characterised by a refusal to participate in the process of setting the country’s agenda for change.

Thus they have served either to strengthen the positions of conservative management and ideology in the educational institutions or to leave the flied clear for almost exclusive occupation by the white liberals and their black cohorts.

In reality, the progressive sections of our intelligentsia should be in the front-line of the struggle for the reconstruction and development of our country.

Among other things, they should be carrying out important work to inform especially the masses of the black people about the objective reality within which we have to implement our transformation programmes.

Equally, they should be engaging the white minority to explain the decisive importance of the fundamental non-racial and non-sexist renewal of our society to stability, progress and the success of the democratic settlement.

Similarly and critically, they should be at the centre of the offensive to lay down the policy foundation on which the new South Africa will be built, involved in the struggle to remove the obstacles obstructing the successful and efficient implementation of our programmes and engaged in the process of empowering the masses of our people to participate in the process of governance.

More generally, we must ensure the growth and development of a modern and properly prepared intelligentsia to guarantee the success of our historic objective of the fundamental social transformation of our country and its reconstruction and development.

These are only some of the challenges of transformation that confront us. What they underline is the fact that any notion that the revolution ended with the elections of 1994 is both false and dangerous.

Further than this, these challenges also speak to the point that our movement, the ANC, will require a leadership of such high calibre as will be able to respond correctly to the “new age” into which democratic South Africa was born.

A Moral Renewal

In this article to which we have already referred, George Soros argues that in an earlier epoch, “people were guided by a set of moral principles that found expression in behaviour outside the scope of the market mechanism.”

He then proceeds to make the observation that “as the market has extended its sway, the fiction that people act on the basis of a given set of non-market values had become increasingly more difficult to maintain. Advertising, marketing, even packaging, aim at shaping people’s preferences rather than, as laissez-faire theory holds, merely responding to them”.

He then makes this important observation about modern society:

“Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value. What is more expensive is considered better. The value of a work of art can be judged by the prices it fetches. People deserve respect and admiration because they are rich. What used to be a medium of exchange has usurped the place of fundamental values, reversing the relationship postulated by economic theory. What used to be professions have turned into businesses. The cult of success has replaced a belief in principles. Society has lost its anchor.”

None of us can deny that this describes our own society, in which many are driven by the “unhampered pursuit of self-interest” and among whom what used to be a medium of exchange (money), has forcefully taken the place of fundamental values.

For a long time our country suffered under an illegitimate system of governance and therefore a regime of laws and organs of state which enjoyed no moral authority in the eyes of the majority of the people, including the oppressor population itself.

This meant that society was thus bereft of the beneficial impact of a state accepted by all the people which, while enforcing a particular social order, simultaneously upholds and perpetuates an accepted system of social norms, covering private and public behaviour, which endow it with the authority that guarantees the consent of the governed.

In this situation, our “society lost its anchor”. The wall of fundamental moral values which deters the individual from committing wrong acts collapsed. The state itself exemplified the collapse of morality in the conduct of human affairs and could not but reach the citizen to follow suit.

In these circumstances, it was inevitable that a philosophy represented by such notions as “each one for himself” and the devil take the hindmost”, “the survival of the fittest” and “the unhampered pursuit of self-interest” would take hold.

The evolution of the capitalist system in our country put on the highest pedestal the promotion of the material interest of the white minority. In contradistinction, it treated the black person as having no value outside of his or her role as an instrument for the advancement of these interests.

The drove home the point to both black and white that “people deserve respect and admiration because they are rich” – regardless of how they acquire, maintain and expand those riches.

If we have learnt nothing else during these past three years, we have grown to appreciate the extent of the corrosion of the moral fibre of our society.

It is out of the great human tragedy which marked the period of colonial and apartheid domination in our country, superimposed on and integrated within the universal impact of the modern market mechanism, of which George Soros speaks, that we have inherited what we see on the surface of human activity in our country, including:

the corruption of public servants by the private sector; the low love level of tax morality; white collar crime and the subversion of business ethics; venality, theft and fraud within the public sector; corruption in the criminal justice system; the uninhibited commitment to unbridled self-gratification which underlies such crimes as rape and child abuse; disrespect for human life and the inviolability of the individual person and the easy resort to the use of force in the ordering of inter-personal relations; the acceptance of robbery and theft as a means of personal enrichments and advancement; mendacity in the conduct of public affairs; contempt for the law and the state; and the virtual collapse among the Africans of a system of social behaviour informed by the precepts of humanism which, historically, have informed African culture.

It is possible that as a revolutionary movement and over the last three years, we have not fully understood the centrality and decisive importance of the moral renewal of our country to the success of our objective of creating a people-centred, humane and caring society.

Later in this Report, we will reflect on this matter as it has affected our own organisation and the broad democratic movement.

During the last three years, to address the population at large and restore to the public mind and our national life the concept of the pursuit of the common good, we have initiated some campaigns or sought to popularise particular concepts. In this instance, among others, I refer to:

the Masakhane campaign, intended to mobilise the people to participate in the process of their own upliftment; “Don’t do Crime”, directed at creating a national atmosphere hostile to the commission of crime; “Arrive Alive”, launched to reduce the unacceptably high level of road accidents and deaths: the call to a New Patriotism, intended to weld our country into a cohesive force for its reconstruction and development; and the advance towards an African Renaissance, which would integrate our processes of fundamental change within the all-African process of all round rebirth and renewal.

At best, we can only describe the results of these and similar, more localised campaigns, as mixed. This points to the critical need for the entirety of our movement consistently and correctly to engage the challenge of the moral renewal of our society.

In this context, and to ensure that we prepare ourselves for a protracted struggle, we must understand the extraordinary complexity of the task of achieving the spiritual as opposed to the material rebirth of our society.

The enormity of this challenge has also been highlighted by the proceedings as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Among other things, these have illustrated:

the dept of dehumanisation of the apartheid security forces; the unwillingness of white society in general, including white politicians, business, the judiciary, the media and the church, to explain its involvement in the maintenance and perpetuation of the apartheid system and therefore its lack of readiness to make its own voluntary contribution to the creation of a truly non-racial and non-sexist democracy; the determination of the old apartheid establishment to maintain its capacity to resort to extra-constitutional means to regain its lots positions of dominance; and, the difficulty of sensitising the white minority to the simmering anger of the black majority, and the latter, to the persisting fear of the future among the former.

As part of our own contribution to the difficult and complex process of the renewal of our society, which includes telling the truth about the acts of inhumanity that occurred during the course of our struggle, we have co-operated and continue to co-operate fully, with the TRC.

In our presentations to the Commission, we have not held anything back with regard to any activities carried out by the structures of our movement as well as cadres, members and supporters who acted within the context of the programmes of the movement. Accordingly our leadership took a deliberated decision to apply for amnesty openly to assume collective and individual responsibility for the legitimate actions undertaken, and even the mistakes committed, by ANC cadres in the course of our struggle.

On the other hand, the leaders of the apartheid system, who perpetrated a vile crime against humanity, have treated both the TRC and the country as a whole with utter contempt.

By their actions they have made the point very clear that they neither regret the evil they visited on our country nor are they willing to commit themselves to a political culture informed by respect for human dignity.

Driven by their old arrogance which derived from attachment to ideas of racial superiority and their capacity to impose their will on the people through resort to terrorism, they have not hesitated to seek to discredit the TRC.

One of their latest gambits is to work for the further persecution of very same leaders of our movement whom they imprisoned, tortured and drove into exile, by challenging the decision of the TRC to grant these leaders amnesty.

Life therefore poses the question whether these architects and spawns of apartheid can make any contribution of any kind to the moral renewal which our country so desperately needs.

What this says is that we will have to travel a difficult road before we can truly unite the majority of our people, without regard to race, colour and gender, around a common patriotism, one of whose critical elements must be the establishment of a caring society.

To achieve this objective will also require significant and sustained progress in changing the material conditions of life of all our people for the better, continuously reducing the racial gender and geographic disparities, impacting positively on the hearts and minds of our people to elevate their sense of community as opposed to the selfishly individual and increasing our capacity to catch, charge, convict and imprison the law-breakers.

But beyond this, it will be important that all influential forces in our country, including political parties, religious, business, trade union, women, youth, student, professional cultural, media and other organisations and various personalities, such as the traditional and other leaders and creative workers, including sports people, should join in a common offensive to create a new moral base that will inform the rebirth of our nation.

This will not happen spontaneously.

For it to come about, requires that we, who are the vanguard of the movement for the birth of a new South Africa, should understand and discharge our responsibility in a manner consistent with our appreciation of the fact that the better future will not make itself.

It will be realised because we, as a truly revolutionary movement, recognise and act on the critical importance of the moral renewal of our society, as a central and inalienable part of the reconstruction and development of our country.

This means that we must work seriously and consistently genuinely to inspire our people with the New Patriotism for which we have already called.

But as we have said earlier none of the objectives we have so far spoken of in this Political Report can be achieved fully, outside of the context of an African Renaissance.

An African Renaissance

We must therefore discuss the central and complex question of our relations with the rest of our Continent and our view of what needs to happen within this part of the world to which our destiny is tied.

The peoples of Africa share a common destiny. Each country is constrained in its ability to achieve peace, stability, sustained development and a better life for the people, except in the context of the attainment of these objectives in other sister African countries as well.

Accordingly, it is objectively in our interest to encourage the realisation of these goals on our Continent, at the same time as we pursue their attainment in our own country.

We speak of a continent which, while it led in the very evolution of human life and was a leading centre of learning, technology and the arts in ancient times, has experienced various traumatic epochs, each one of which has pushed her peoples deeper into poverty and backwardness.

We refer here to the three periods of:

slavery, which robbed the continent of millions of her healthiest and most productive inhabitants; imperialism and colonialism, which resulted in the rape of raw materials, the destruction of traditional agriculture and domestic food security, and the integration of Africa into the world economy as a subservient participant and, neo-colonialism, which perpetuated this economic system, while creating the possibility for the emergence of new national elites in the independent states, themselves destined to join the dominant imperialist forces in oppressing and exploiting the masses of the people.

During this latter period, our continent has experienced:

unstable political systems in which one-party states and military rule have occupied pride of place, leading to conflict, civil wars, genocide and the emergence of millions of displaced and refugee populations; the formation of predatory elites that have thrived on the basis of the looting of national wealth and the entrenchment of corruption; the growth of the international debt burden to the extent that, in some countries, combined with unfavourable terms of trade, it makes negative growth in national income inevitable: and, actual declines in the standard of living and quality of life for hundreds of millions of Africans.

It is quite clear that for us, as a movement, basing ourselves on our own ideological and political orientation, which visualises the creation of a people-centred society, all this describes a situation we could never accept both for ourselves and for our sister African peoples

It is in this context that we have put forward the perspective of an African Renaissance.

The word “renaissance” means rebirth, renewal, springing up anew. Therefore, when we speak of an African Renaissance, we speak of the rebirth and renewal of our continent.

This idea is not new to the struggles of the peoples of our continent for genuine emancipation. It has been propagated by other activists for liberation before, drawn from many countries.

But it has been suggested that when this perspective was advanced in earlier periods, the conditions did not exist for its realisation.

Accordingly, what is new about it today is that the conditions exist for the process to begin, or to be enhanced, throughout the continent, leading to the transformation of the idea from a dream dreamt by visionaries to a practical programme of action for revolutionaries.

What, then, are these conditions! These are:

the completion of the continental process of the liquidation of the colonial system, realised as a result of the liberation of South Africa; the recognition of the bankruptcy of neo-colonialism by the masses of the people throughout the continent, including the majority of the middle strata; the weakening of the struggle among the major powers for the domination of the continent, as a consequence of the end of the Cold War; and the acceleration of the process of globalisation.

Among other thins the emergence of these conditions means that:

popular political centres for fundamental transformation exist in various parts of the continent, especially in those countries that had to wage protracted struggles against colonialism and white minority domination, as well as those where there has been a genuinely popular struggle against neo-colonialism; the major powers feel a reduced need for them to put their own clients in positions of power, to achieve their strategic goal of carving our spheres of influence in the context of an ideological struggle between capitalism and socialism; and, markets can no longer be secured by the political seizure of countries or the use of extra-economic means, obliging multi-national corporations, regardless of nationality, to compete for market shares even on our continent.

There are, of course, other enabling factors that help to reinforce the tendency towards the fundamental renewal of the continent, which require further examination.

However, the principal aims of the African Renaissance are, in may respects, obvious. They include:

the establishment of democratic political systems to ensure the accomplishment of the goal that “the people shall govern”; ensuring that these systems take into account African specifics so that, while being truly democratic and protective of human rights, they are nevertheless designed in ways which really ensure that political means can be used to address the competing interests of different social groups in each country; establishing the institutions and procedures which would enable the continent collectively to deal with questions of democracy, peace and stability; achieving sustainable economic development which results in the continuous improvement of the standards of living and the quality of life of the masses of the people; qualitatively changing Africa’s place in the world economy, so that it is free of the yoke of the international debt burden and no longer a supplier of raw materials and an importer of food and manufactured goods; a rediscovery of Africa’s creative past to recapture the peoples’ cultures, encourage artistic creativity and restore popular involvement in both accessing and advancing science and technology; advancing in practical ways, the objective of African Unity; and, strengthening the genuine independence of African countries and the continent in our relations with the major powers, and enhancing our collective role in the determination of the global system of governance in all fields, including politics, the economy, security, information and intellectual property, the environment and science and technology.

These goals can only be achieved through a genuinely popular and protracted struggle involving not only governments and political parties, but the people themselves in all their formations.

Such a popular movement for the fundamental renewal of Africa would also have to take into account the multi-faceted reality that:

it would be engaged in an extremely complex struggle which would be opposed by forces of reaction from both within and without the continent; it would achieve both forward movement and suffer occasional setbacks; the continental offensive can only be sustained if the active populations of all countries are confident that none of the countries of the continent, regardless of the extent of their contribution to the Renaissance, seeks to impose itself or the rest as a new imperialist power; and, the forces for change have to be built up and consolidated within each country, without ignoring or underestimating this imperative and the potential for an increasingly co-ordinated trans-national offensive for the mutually beneficial renewal of the continent.

From all this, it is clear that the achievement of the historically vital African Renaissance requires that the people of our continent should adopt a realistic programme of action that will actually move Africa towards its real rebirth.

Accordingly, ways have to be found to ensure that:

the OAU reorients itself so that in its work, it focuses on the strategic objective of the African Renaissance; political organisations and governments in all African countries are mobilised to act in furtherance of this objective; the masses in all African countries and their organisations are similarly mobilised and drawn into action; attention is paid to the intelligentsia, the professionals, trade unions, business people, the religious and traditional leaders, cultural workers, the youth and women, the media, and so on, to bring them into the popular struggle for Africa’s rebirth; links are built across Africa’s borders among all social sectors to increase the levels of co-operation and integration; steps are taken to ensure that both Africa and the rest of the world define the new (21st) century as “the African Century”, in furtherance of the objective of the mobilisation of the peoples of the world to support the offensive for the African Renaissance; and, work is done to persuade the rest of the world, including such important, institutions as the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, NAFTA, the EU, ASEAN, MECOSUR and others, to the point of view that we share the strategic view with them that it is obligatory that we all support the vision of an African Renaissance and that they should lend support to this process, guided by what the peoples of Africa themselves want.

A major and historic challenge faces our movement to play its role further to elaborate the vision of African Renaissance and to ensure that our country makes its due contribution to the rebirth of our continent.

Our experience over the last three years of work on our own continent confirms the urgent need to make progress towards this rebirth.

The peoples of our continent have continued to rejoice in the emergence of a democratic South Africa for which they had fought. They expect of liberated South Africa that we will make a significant contribution to the common African struggle for peace and development.

Accordingly, we have been and are involved in these processes through the OAU the Commonwealth and on a bilateral basis. This has involved such countries as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Angola, Sudan, Morocco, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Furthermore, during this period, economic relations between ourselves and the rest of our continent have grown rapidly, confirming the importance of these relations to our own economic growth and development.

Significant progress has also been made towards closer regional co-operation within the SADC. In the period ahead of us, even faster progress should be achieved in this regard.

It is however also clear that more work will have to be done to strengthen the relations and the process of interaction among the political parties and formations both within our region and further afield on the continent to strengthen our collective capacity to address the common challenge that face us.

Our relations with the sister African peoples have developed very well during the last three years, informed by the principles of solidarity and mutually beneficial co-operation.

Nevertheless we will have to work harder to give further concrete meaning to these all-round relations at the bilateral level and in the context of the SADC and the OAU.

This, too, will make an important contribution to the renewal of our continent, a matter made more pressing by the rapid advance of the process of globalisation.

Challenge of Globalisation

During the past three years, our country has been called upon to make its own contributions to address various issues on the international agenda.

As a result of this, we played an important role in the renegotiating of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the adoption of the Treaty providing for the prohibition of anti-personnel land mines.

At the same time, we were elected President of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and one of the Vice-Presidents of the UN General Assembly. We serve in the senior committees of the World Trade Organisation while we also co-chair the UN Aids Programme.

From next year we will be called upon to lead the Non-Aligned Movement and host the Commonwealth Heads of Government the year after.

We mention all these to indicate the increasingly important role we are expected to play within the global community.

It is therefore important that we discuss the process of globalisation, understand it correctly, assess its impact on us and begin to define our response to this defining social phenomenon.

The driving force of the process of globalisation is the economy and the advances in science and technology. Today’s world economy is characterised by the emergence of a global market represented by the movement of capital, goods and services to all parts of the world, unrestrained by national boundaries or differences in political systems.

The continuing technological revolution in information and communication is further expediting the development of this global market and entrenching it as a permanent feature of human existence.

Earlier in this Report, we referred to the impact this process of globalisation is having with regard to the concentration and centralisation of capital in fewer and fewer private hands, the concentration of wealth in a few countries and the widening of the gap in wealth and income within and between countries.

Let us return to the lecture delivered by the Swedish minister, Pierre Schorri, Here is some of what he had to say;

“Globalisation, in all its aspects, is a process with a Janus face: one side is bright and beautiful and the other unwanted and ugly.. Globalisation is not driven by solidarity and compassion. And it often causes the opposite – division and injustice. We do not need to look far to see how the gaps are widening, between – and within – countries… How big the gap is becoming, the UNDP report demonstrated with this image: if you want to balance the richest and poorest people on this globe, you would end up with 358 people in the one bowl of the scale and 45 percent of the world’s population in the other… Something has gone wrong, very much wrong. Total global income has increased six fold since 1960. But more than half of the world’s population – three billion people – have to support themselves on less than 2 dollars a day.”

For the purpose of this Report, we would like to make some remarks on a few additional and important issues.

One of these is that the process of globalisation is an inherent mode of existence of capital. It is therefore neither the invention of some reactionary cabal that sits somewhere in the world nor can it be stopped.

Neither can the attendant information and communication revolution be stopped, nor would this be desirable.

The second of these is that the process of globalisation inevitably impacts on the sovereignty of states, with states losing some of their sovereignty to an evolving system of international governance.

The very mobility of capital and the globalisation of the capital and other markets, make it impossible for countries, for instance, to decide national economic policy without regard to the likely, response of these markets.

Our own experience in the last three years and those of other countries, such as Mexico and others in Asia, confirm the correctness of this observation.

But, of course, the impact of this reduction of sovereignty is not evenly spread among the countries of the world but varies according to the economic strength of the various countries.

The third of these remarks is that contrary to the ideological claims that are made in favour of the “free market”, the reality is that the process of the intervention in and the regulation of the world market is growing space. This is represented most prominently by the WTO, whose decisions are binding on countries. The developments gripping the member states of the European Union as they prepare for the introduction of the European Monetary Union point precisely to the growing importance of political interventions to regulate the functioning of the economy.

The last of our remarks relates to the fact that as consciousness grows about the inter-dependence of the nations on our planet, so do all major decisions that derive from the system of governance become subject to international review and become dependent for their success on approval and support by an international constituency.

There are many lessons we should draw from these and other factors that accompany the process of globalisation.

One of these is that we should abandon the idealist doctrine of exceptionalism, according to which many within the ranks of the democratic movement wish to treat South Africa as a unique entity, which can exist outside the context of and contrary to the tendencies which characterise the evolution of human society.

In reality, what we have to do is ensure that our country integrates itself within a world community that is evolving under the impact of a process of globalisation as well as determine the ways by which we can impact on this process to advance the interests of our broad masses.

To try subtract ourselves from these processes would spell disaster.

The second of these lessons is that we must fight to compensate the loss of sovereignty especially by the countries of the Third World by strengthening our collective and institutionalised capacity to influence the decisions that will emerge from the system of international governance.

This requires that we engage in struggle:

for the democratisation of the international institutions of governance; for cohesion among the countries of the Third World in order effectively to use their collective strength to bargain with the major powers; for the insertion into the world agenda of the concerns already expressed in this Report, about the growing disparity between the rich and the poor and the unacceptability of the exclusion of the goal of a better life for all in the functioning of the global market; and, therefore for the establishment of the “institutions and mechanisms” spoken of by George Soros which would enable the international community to address these agenda items.

It must be clear from all this that, as a movement, we confront a major challenge to make our own contribution to the birth of the new world order, which perhaps contrary to all logic that derives from the balance of power, must focus on addressing the needs and concerns of the powerless, in particular.

The pursuit of this difficult but important objective emphasises the need for us, as a movement and a country, to construct our own system of international relations not in a haphazard manner, but in a way that will help us successfully to address all the concerns we have expressed in this Report.

Our International Relations

Our relations with the rest of the world have developed very well over the last three years. We have been able to break out of the comprehensive international isolation imposed on our country as a result of the pursuit by the previous regime of the apartheid crime against humanity.

During this period, we have also succeeded to resolve such difficult problems in our international affairs as our relations with the People’s Republic of China, the “Armscor case” in the United States of America and the arrears we owed as a country to the United Nations.

We have also played our part in helping to resolve some of the problems that have afflicted our continent, including those in such countries as Lesotho, Mozambique and the former Zaire.

We can say this without fear of contradiction that we have assumed our rightful place as a sovereign state within all spheres on international activity, including politics and diplomacy, the economy, peace and security, science, technology and knowledges and crime prevention and combating.

Our foreign policy is informed by the objectives we have set ourselves of reconstruction and development. We are aware of the fact that these cannot be fully achieved unless we position ourselves correctly within the international community of nations.

Similarly, the realisation of these objectives domestically requires that we try to promote them internationally, without seeking to compromise the sovereignty of any state or people.

Furthermore, we pursue our foreign policy in the context of a dynamic global order which is influenced by many forces and factors, including the process of globalisation which we have already discussed.

Accordingly, for us to achieve our objectives, it is necessary that we act according to a properly thought-out strategic framework and a time frame, but also with sufficient flexibility to enable us to respond correctly to the ever-changing world environment,

This strategic framework has already begun to emerge out of our activities of the last three years. Let us now deal with its main elements.

One of these is the further enhancement of the process of regional co-operation and integration affecting the SADC countries. this is critical to the all-round success of all our countries, whose interdependence emphasises the point that as countries of this region, we truly share a common destiny.

Much of the institutional framework relevant to this process is already in place. Further, the will to promote our co-operation exists through the region. However, it is important that additional measures are adopted to promote this co-operation more energetically and comprehensively.

Clearly, our position as Current Chairperson of SADC imposes a special obligation on us to encourage this approach. This will necessitate that all the relevant organs of state elaborate new proposals to meet this challenge, including the conclusion of the negotiations on the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

We have already dealt with the issue of the African Renaissance which will impact fundamentally on our Africa policy.

Another important pillar of our foreign policy is the building of strong, all-round South-South relations. Great possibilities exist further to promote development among the countries of the South through greater interaction among themselves, affecting all spheres of human activity.

This will require of us that we pay detailed attention to this matter, to identify the specific areas of co-operation and jointly with the major countries of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, in the first instance, to agree on common programmes of action focused on these specific areas of co-operation.

It is also vitally important that we work towards the situation in which the countries of the South do indeed speak with one voice on the principal international questions. This is especially important in the light of the process of globalisation which we have already discussed, which process is led and dominated by the countries of the North.

The bargaining power which the developing countries need, will be greatly enhanced if they are able to present a united front as they seek to make an impact on the process of globalisation to address the needs of our countries and people.

Clearly, the forthcoming Summit Meeting of Heads of State and Government of Non-Aligned Countries will play an important role in advancing this perspective of greater South-South co-operation and cohesion. It will therefore again be necessary that all the relevant organs of government should with immediate effect, take the necessary measures to ensure that this Summit Meeting lives up to its expectations.

The fact that we are hosting this Summit, combined with our current presidency of UNCTAD and our hosting next year of “Africa Telecoms”, underline our own responsibilities to the countries of the South. We must do everything to ensure that we do not disappoint the expectations of these sister countries and peoples.

Yet another important element of our foreign relations is the strengthening of our links with the countries of the North, among which we include Russia and Japan, still our most important international economic partners with regard to trade, investment and technology transfers.

These countries have also extended significant amounts of development assistance to us to help us immediately to address the needs of our people while we strengthen our own domestic capacity to meet these needs.

Consistent with the importance we attach to our relations with the countries of the North, we have among other things, established Bi-National Commissions with some of them, to ensure the co-ordinated development of these relations.

We must continue to develop these relations, given the fact that the countries of the North will continue to be our important economic partners and given the reality that we have to interact with these countries as part of the process of addressing the key International issues of the day, including the challenges of globalisation.

It is also clear that we will need the fullest co-operation of the developed countries of the North to achieve our objective of an African Renaissance.

Certainly, we have to persuade them that this Renaissance is in their interest and that, as they pursue their legitimate interests in Africa, they should simultaneously contribute positively to the creation of the conditions that will lead to Africa’s rebirth.

The Scandinavian countries played a critical and special role in our struggle for liberation. To this day, the ordinary peoples of these countries continue to feel a strong sense of solidarity with our own people.

This last element we would like to mention with regard to our international relations is the need for us to pay particular attention to the Multi-lateral governmental organisations.

As we have already indicated, it is clear that simultaneously as the process of globalisation grows apace, so does the system of international governance also grow stronger. We have no doubt that this tendency will strengthen rather than weaken.

Already many instruments and institutions exist expressive of this expanding system of international governance. Increasingly as the information society gets more entrenched the non-governmental sector is also increasingly making its impact on this system.

Of critical importance to the future of this system, is its democratisation. This would enable the developing countries to put on the world agenda the issues of concern to our peoples and to participate more effectively in fashioning the new world order.

It would also enable us to impact on the existing organisations, to help change their structures and their ethos to ensure that they address a more equitable agenda based, critically, on ensuring a better life for all the peoples of the world, and not merely those who already occupy positions of privilege.

An important weakness in our international work that has emerged over the last three years is the fact that as a political movement we have failed to sustain the level of contact and interaction with other political formations which we had developed in the past.

The programme of action in the development of our international relations that we have spoken of also requires that we, as a political movement, should also interact with our counterparts elsewhere in the world, to advance the perspectives we have ourselves worked out that bear on the fundamental transformation of our own country.

In this context we must take important decisions about the relations we should establish or maintain with existing international organisations of political parties.

Of particular importance, in this regard, is the Socialist International, in which we have had observer status for many years and which has been consistently inviting us to join as a full member, joining many other parties in our region and continent who are members of this organisation.

As we consider this matter, we must also bear in mind the fact that we also maintain good relations with political parties of other ideological persuasions and should recognise the importance of these parties to the success of our reconstruction and development perspectives both democratically and internationally.

However we resolve this matter, it is critically important that we act with greater vigour to strengthen our relations with other political parties and movements in all parts of the world, to help advance the goals shared by all right thinking people throughout the world.

What this and other challenges within our own country require is a strong, united and properly oriented ANC, operating as part and in the vanguard of a similarly strong, united and properly oriented progressive movement.

We must therefore now deal with the central question of the state of organisation of our own movement and other related matters which stand at the centre of our capacity to carry out the tasks contained in the Report, our Strategy and Tactics document and the decisions we will take during this Conference.

The Progressive Movement

The achievement of everything we have said in this Report depends on our ability to remain loyal to the purposes that have kept our movement together and actively involved in the struggle for national liberation for eight-and-a-half decades.

Remarkably, it would seem that our very victory over white minority rule has created the basis for some among us to take advantage of the new political opportunities the people’s triumph has created, to work for the weakening and destruction of this very movement, the ANC.

Our movement not only won us our historic success, but also on its shoulders the only possibility our country has to realise its reconstruction and development, and our people, a better life.

We say this because a number of negative features within the ANC and the broad democratic movement have emerged during the last three years. We have an inescapable responsibility to attend to these matters frankly and decisively in defence of both our movement and our revolution.

One of these negative features is the emergence of careerism within our ranks. Many among our members see their membership of the ANC as a means to advance their personal ambitions to attain positions of power and access to resources for their own individual gratification.

Accordingly, they work to manipulate the movement to create the conditions for their success.

During the last three years, this has created such problems as division within the movement, conflicts based on differences among individuals, the encouragement of rank indiscipline leading to the undermining of our organisational integrity, conflict within communities and the demoralisation of some of the best cadres of our organisation.

Inevitably, this has also created the possibility for the opponents of our movement and our revolutionary perspectives to intensify their own offensive to promote their objectives which are opposed to our goal of creating a better life for all.

In reality, during the last three years, we have found it difficult to deal with such careerists in a decisive manner. We, ourselves, have therefore allowed the space to emerge for these opportunists to pursue their counter-revolutionary goals, to the detriment of our movement and struggle.

During this period, we have also been faced with various instances of corruption involving our own members, including those who occupy positions of authority by virtue of the victory of the democratic revolution.

These have sought either to steal public resources or to export financial tributes from the people in return for services to which the people are entitled and which those in authority are legally and morally obliged to provide.

This is not surprising in the light of what we have already said in this Report about the entrenchment of corruption in our society in general and the consequent desperate desire to accumulate wealth in the shortest possible period of time.

And yet, what should characterise the people we draw into our ranks should be precisely this, that there are those among our people, who are appalled by this corruption and are motivated to create the kind of society that would be dedicated to rooting out this disease.

Clearly, we have to take all necessary measures to purge ourselves of such members and organise ourselves in a way that will make it difficult for corrupt elements to gain entry into our movement.

We have also seen the emergence of elitism among some of our members. Notions have surfaced of entitlement to decision-making positions, which have led to a break in the sustained interaction between some of our leaders, on one hand, and our organisation and people, on the other.

Clearly, one of the critical problems we have to contend with is that necessarily, we have acquired many members who have no experience of struggle.

Thus they see our movement for national liberation as a mere political party which participates in elections at the conclusion of which it places its members in remunerated positions of authority.

Many among these think the 1994 elections marked the end of the struggle and have very little understanding of the challenges of fundamental social transformation, some of which this Report has sought to identify.

What we have said is not intended to argue against the recruitment of new members. Rather, it emphasises the central importance of the proper preparation of as many of our members as possible to become genuine cadres of a movement for national liberation that is still engaged in struggle to accomplish its historic mission.

It is therefore important that we pay the closest possible attention to the continuous political education of our members, to ensure that they become real members of our organisation, and not mere card-carriers.

This process of preparation of these members must also include ensuring that they actually engage in practical work to promote the cause for which we stand, as well as conduct themselves in ways which do not bring disrepute to the movement.

We also need to assist the Youth League to ensure that it brings up the youth in the traditions of the movement and in a manner that will enable these young people to assume their positions of leadership when the time comes, being clear about their own responsibilities to society.

Our experience of the last three years tells us that for us to carry out these tasks successfully, will require that we attend to the question of the better deployment of especially our most experienced cadres as well as ensuring that our Headquarters and our Police and Organising Departments, in particular, are properly staffed.

We must also drill this into the consciousness of all our members and structures that all of us have a responsibility to raise the funds that we need to continue our work.

With regard to the matter of the better deployment of our cadres, we must ensure that we achieve the proper balance among the various demands on our pool of cadres, which includes the local provincial and national legislatures and governments, the ANC structures at all these levels, the public service and the economy.

Our starting points as we tackle the task of further strengthening the ANC must be based on the recognition of the fact that the fundamental social transformation of our country cannot happen without the people who understand and are committed to bringing this transformation about.

In other words, to discharge this revolutionary tasks ahead of us, we need battalions of revolutionaries who are as ready to serve the people as have been the generations of cadres that preceded them.

Nevertheless, in spite of everything we have said, it is also true that over the last three years, our organisation in its various echelons, has conducted itself well, succeeding to maintain a level of cohesion and the necessary sense of direction to enable us to keep the revolution on course.

The ANC also has an important and continuing responsibility to lead the Revolutionary Alliances and the rest of the democratic movement.

During the last three years, we have not succeeded as well as we should have to carry out this task. Consequently, both the Alliance and the democratic movement as a whole have been characterised both by a tendency towards division and a reaffirmation of its cohesion.

Part of this derived from the fact that the Alliance and the rest of the movement had to deal with the entirely new situation of the defeat of the apartheid regime and our assumption of political power.

It has proved difficult for all sectors within our political camp properly to define their role in this phase of our struggle for the defence and consolidation of our revolutionary gains and the reconstruction and development of our country.

Equally, we have not as yet evolved a stable and satisfactory system of interaction among the various echelons of the movement, to ensure, for instance, that initiatives taken at the level of governance are properly canvassed within the movement as a whole, or that actions undertaken by the trade union movement are similarly discussed.

Efforts have been made during the last three years to address all these new problems. However, it is true that we have as yet not found the lasting solutions we need. Conference must therefore discuss these matters with all the seriousness they deserve.

We will now make some remarks about some of the issues that must impact on that discussion without, in any way, seeking to present an exhaustive analysis.

For a number of decades and certainly during the period of its illegality, the SACP operated in a manner that facilitated the coincidence of theory and practice with regard to the acceptance by the entire national democratic movement of the fundament notion of the ANC’s leadership of this movement, which includes the SACP.

This also entailed various elements such as the acceptance of the independence of these two organisations, recognition of the fact that each has a legitimate right and obligation to define its own historic mission and acceptance of an obligation to resort to processes internal to the alliance to resolve such disputes as might arise between its members.

famous speeches nelson mandela

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Nelson Mandela

By: Editors

Updated: March 29, 2023 | Original: November 9, 2009

Nelson Mandela(Original Caption) Nelson Mandela outside his Soweto home three days after his release. (Photo by Gideon Mendel/Corbis via Getty Images)

The South African activist and former president Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) helped bring an end to apartheid and has been a global advocate for human rights. A member of the African National Congress party beginning in the 1940s, he was a leader of both peaceful protests and armed resistance against the white minority’s oppressive regime in a racially divided South Africa. His actions landed him in prison for nearly three decades and made him the face of the antiapartheid movement both within his country and internationally. Released in 1990, he participated in the eradication of apartheid and in 1994 became the first Black president of South Africa, forming a multiethnic government to oversee the country’s transition. After retiring from politics in 1999, he remained a devoted champion for peace and social justice in his own nation and around the world until his death in 2013 at the age of 95.

Nelson Mandela’s Childhood and Education

Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, into a royal family of the Xhosa-speaking Thembu tribe in the South African village of Mvezo, where his father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa (c. 1880-1928), served as chief. His mother, Nosekeni Fanny, was the third of Mphakanyiswa’s four wives, who together bore him nine daughters and four sons. After the death of his father in 1927, 9-year-old Mandela—then known by his birth name, Rolihlahla—was adopted by Jongintaba Dalindyebo, a high-ranking Thembu regent who began grooming his young ward for a role within the tribal leadership.

Did you know? As a sign of respect, many South Africans referred to Nelson Mandela as Madiba, his Xhosa clan name.

The first in his family to receive a formal education, Mandela completed his primary studies at a local missionary school. There, a teacher dubbed him Nelson as part of a common practice of giving African students English names. He went on to attend the Clarkebury Boarding Institute and Healdtown, a Methodist secondary school, where he excelled in boxing and track as well as academics. In 1939 Mandela entered the elite University of Fort Hare, the only Western-style higher learning institute for Black South Africans at the time. The following year, he and several other students, including his friend and future business partner Oliver Tambo (1917-1993), were sent home for participating in a boycott against university policies.

After learning that his guardian had arranged a marriage for him, Mandela fled to Johannesburg and worked first as a night watchman and then as a law clerk while completing his bachelor’s degree by correspondence. He studied law at the University of Witwatersrand, where he became involved in the movement against racial discrimination and forged key relationships with Black and white activists. In 1944, Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) and worked with fellow party members, including Oliver Tambo, to establish its youth league, the ANCYL. That same year, he met and married his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase (1922-2004), with whom he had four children before their divorce in 1957.

Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress

Nelson Mandela’s commitment to politics and the ANC grew stronger after the 1948 election victory of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party, which introduced a formal system of racial classification and segregation—apartheid—that restricted nonwhites’ basic rights and barred them from government while maintaining white minority rule. The following year, the ANC adopted the ANCYL’s plan to achieve full citizenship for all South Africans through boycotts, strikes, civil disobedience and other nonviolent methods. Mandela helped lead the ANC’s 1952 Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws, traveling across the country to organize protests against discriminatory policies, and promoted the manifesto known as the Freedom Charter, ratified by the Congress of the People in 1955. Also in 1952, Mandela and Tambo opened South Africa’s first Black law firm, which offered free or low-cost legal counsel to those affected by apartheid legislation.

On December 5, 1956, Mandela and 155 other activists were arrested and went on trial for treason. All of the defendants were acquitted in 1961, but in the meantime tensions within the ANC escalated, with a militant faction splitting off in 1959 to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). The next year, police opened fire on peaceful Black protesters in the township of Sharpeville, killing 69 people; as panic, anger and riots swept the country in the massacre’s aftermath, the apartheid government banned both the ANC and the PAC. Forced to go underground and wear disguises to evade detection, Mandela decided that the time had come for a more radical approach than passive resistance.

famous speeches nelson mandela

Nelson Mandela and the Armed Resistance Movement

In 1961, Nelson Mandela co-founded and became the first leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”), also known as MK, a new armed wing of the ANC. Several years later, during the trial that would put him behind bars for nearly three decades, he described the reasoning for this radical departure from his party’s original tenets: “[I]t would be wrong and unrealistic for African leaders to continue preaching peace and nonviolence at a time when the government met our peaceful demands with force. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle.”

Under Mandela’s leadership, MK launched a sabotage campaign against the government, which had recently declared South Africa a republic and withdrawn from the British Commonwealth. In January 1962, Mandela traveled abroad illegally to attend a conference of African nationalist leaders in Ethiopia, visit the exiled Oliver Tambo in London and undergo guerilla training in Algeria. On August 5, shortly after his return, he was arrested and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison for leaving the country and inciting a 1961 workers’ strike. The following July, police raided an ANC hideout in Rivonia, a suburb on the outskirts of Johannesburg, and arrested a racially diverse group of MK leaders who had gathered to debate the merits of a guerilla insurgency. Evidence was found implicating Mandela and other activists, who were brought to stand trial for sabotage, treason and violent conspiracy alongside their associates.

Mandela and seven other defendants narrowly escaped the gallows and were instead sentenced to life imprisonment during the so-called Rivonia Trial, which lasted eight months and attracted substantial international attention. In a stirring opening statement that sealed his iconic status around the world, Mandela admitted to some of the charges against him while defending the ANC’s actions and denouncing the injustices of apartheid. He ended with the following words: “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 Years Behind Bars

Nelson Mandela spent the first 18 of his 27 years in jail at the brutal Robben Island Prison, a former leper colony off the coast of Cape Town, where he was confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing and compelled to do hard labor in a lime quarry. As a Black political prisoner, he received scantier rations and fewer privileges than other inmates. He was only allowed to see his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (1936-), who he had married in 1958 and was the mother of his two young daughters, once every six months. Mandela and his fellow prisoners were routinely subjected to inhumane punishments for the slightest of offenses; among other atrocities, there were reports of guards burying inmates in the ground up to their necks and urinating on them.

These restrictions and conditions notwithstanding, while in confinement Mandela earned a bachelor of law degree from the University of London and served as a mentor to his fellow prisoners, encouraging them to seek better treatment through nonviolent resistance. He also smuggled out political statements and a draft of his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” published five years after his release.

Despite his forced retreat from the spotlight, Mandela remained the symbolic leader of the antiapartheid movement. In 1980 Oliver Tambo introduced a “Free Nelson Mandela” campaign that made the jailed leader a household name and fueled the growing international outcry against South Africa’s racist regime. As pressure mounted, the government offered Mandela his freedom in exchange for various political compromises, including the renouncement of violence and recognition of the “independent” Transkei Bantustan, but he categorically rejected these deals.

In 1982 Mandela was moved to Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland, and in 1988 he was placed under house arrest on the grounds of a minimum-security correctional facility. The following year, newly elected president F. W. de Klerk (1936-) lifted the ban on the ANC and called for a nonracist South Africa, breaking with the conservatives in his party. On February 11, 1990, he ordered Mandela’s release.

Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa

After attaining his freedom, Nelson Mandela led the ANC in its negotiations with the governing National Party and various other South African political organizations for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government. Though fraught with tension and conducted against a backdrop of political instability, the talks earned Mandela and de Klerk the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1993. On April 26, 1994, more than 22 million South Africans turned out to cast ballots in the country’s first multiracial parliamentary elections in history. An overwhelming majority chose the ANC to lead the country, and on May 10 Mandela was sworn in as the first Black president of South Africa, with de Klerk serving as his first deputy.

As president, Mandela established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights and political violations committed by both supporters and opponents of apartheid between 1960 and 1994. He also introduced numerous social and economic programs designed to improve the living standards of South Africa’s Black population. In 1996 Mandela presided over the enactment of a new South African constitution, which established a strong central government based on majority rule and prohibited discrimination against minorities, including whites.

Improving race relations, discouraging Blacks from retaliating against the white minority and building a new international image of a united South Africa were central to President Mandela’s agenda. To these ends, he formed a multiracial “Government of National Unity” and proclaimed the country a “rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.” In a gesture seen as a major step toward reconciliation, he encouraged Blacks and whites alike to rally around the predominantly Afrikaner national rugby team when South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

On his 80th birthday in 1998, Mandela wed the politician and humanitarian Graça Machel (1945-), widow of the former president of Mozambique. (His marriage to Winnie had ended in divorce in 1992.) The following year, he retired from politics at the end of his first term as president and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki (1942-) of the ANC.

Nelson Mandela’s Later Years and Legacy

After leaving office, Nelson Mandela remained a devoted champion for peace and social justice in his own country and around the world. He established a number of organizations, including the influential Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Elders, an independent group of public figures committed to addressing global problems and easing human suffering. In 2002, Mandela became a vocal advocate of AIDS awareness and treatment programs in a culture where the epidemic had been cloaked in stigma and ignorance. The disease later claimed the life of his son Makgatho (1950-2005) and is believed to affect more people in South Africa than in any other country.

Treated for prostate cancer in 2001 and weakened by other health issues, Mandela grew increasingly frail in his later years and scaled back his schedule of public appearances. In 2009, the United Nations declared July 18 “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of the South African leader’s contributions to democracy, freedom, peace and human rights around the world. Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013 from a recurring lung infection.

famous speeches nelson mandela

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