Item 171 - Speech by Nelson Mandela at the Zionist Christian Church Easter Conference

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ZA COM MR-S-171

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Speech by Nelson Mandela at the Zionist Christian Church Easter Conference

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  • 1994-04-03 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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Zionist Christian Church Easter Conference

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  • English

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TRANSCRIPT

(Begin with a reading from the Gospel According to St Matthew, Chapter 5. Verses: 1 to 12.)

1. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into the mountain; and when he was set,

2. his disciples came unto him; and he opened his mouth, and taught them saying,

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,

4.Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Khotsong Masione! Peace unto you! Uxolo Mazayoni!

Your Grace,
Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane,
Head of the Zionist Christian Church;
Reverend Gentlemen, members of the Ministers' council and Elders of the Z.C.C.;
State President F.W. de Klerk;
Esteemed colleague, President M.C. Makwetu;
Chief Ministers M.G. Buthelezi;
Congregants, fellow worshippers and friends;

I consider it a privilege to be here with you once more this Easter. Permit me, Your grace, to thank you and the mighty congregation your lead, for inviting me once more to celebrate Easter with you here at the holy city of Moria. This tabernacle which has become the site of annual festival of renewal and rebirth attracts pilgrims from every part of this sub-continent. I have come to Moria as a pilgrim to commune with Your Grace and the Z.C.C. in an act of rededication symbolised by the resurrected Messiah.

I bring to you all the heartfelt greetings of the entire membership of the ANC. On their behalf, I say to you Khotso e be le lena! May Peace be with you all! We bow our heads in worship on this day and give thanks to the Almighty for the bounty he has bestowed upon us over the past year. We raise our voices in holy gladness to celebrate the victory of the risen Christ over the terrible forces of death.

Easter is a joyful festival!
It is a celebration because it is indeed a festival of hope!
Easter marks the renewal life!
The triumph of the light of truth over the darkness of falsehood!
Easter is a festival of human solidarity, because it celebrates the fulfilment of the Good News!
The Good News borne by our risen Messiah who chose not one race, who chose not one country, who chose not one language, who chose not one tribe, who chose all of humankind!

We pray with you for the blessings of human solidarity, because there are so many who wish to divide us!
We pray with you for the blessings of reconciliation among all the people of South Africa!
We pray with you so that the blessings of peace may descend upon South Africa like a torrent!
We pray with you that the blessings of love may flow like a mighty stream!

Khotso Masione! May Peace by with you!. Uxolo Mazayoni!

Our country has lived through a fateful week. Ours is a country whose patience had been worn thin by the ever present threat of violence and mayhem. However we assess the events of this past week, it is clear that a halt had to be called to the spiral of destruction and death. We could no longer ignore the fervent wishes of the overwhelming majority of the people for peace.

The dreadful incidents that have occurred must not obscure the essential truth that what is at issue is a simple principle: that the people of South Africa, no matter in which province they live, like people everywhere in the world, have the inalienable right to decide who will govern them. That right cannot be compromised! That right cannot undermined! That right cannot be abridged to satisfy any one party, or leader, or political dogma!

Even as we speak there are numerous homes in many parts of our country where there is mourning. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to all the bereaved families. But we mourn also for our country which continues to bleed and lose some of its best sons and daughters in senseless slaughter which has no purpose other than to delay the birth of a democratic South Africa.

The cost in human lives lost, in the damage to public and private property all could have been avoided. Those politicians who have chosen to stand outside the momentous historical current that is bringing change to this country, have the untrammelled right to do so. But we plead with them; we implore them;

Yes, we even beg them, please accord us the equal right to be part of this process of change? Please to not interfere with our right to vote merely because you choose not to exercise yours.

Uxolo Mazayoni! Khotsong Masione! Peace be with You!

We often hear it said today that South Africans should forget the past and rather focus on the future. While it is absolutely correct that we must not permit the past to become a burden that obstructs our capacity to move forward, it would be equally short-sighted to consign it to our collective amnesia.

South Africa's past is not merely a record of dismal record of failure, though there has been one great failure.

South Africa's past is nor merely a lot of missed opportunities, though many opportunities have been missed.

South Africa's past is not a bleak picture which can only bring despair. It is also a history rich in tales of human courage, endeavour and striving, often against terrible odds, to create a better future for all the people of our country.

South Africans of every race, gender, colour, creed, ethnic and language group have contributed to it. The coming of the democratic elections to this country is not a miracle. It is the outcome of decades of consistent and unrelenting struggle by millions of ordinary South Africans - women, men and even children - drawn from every region of our country who went out on strikes! Who conducted boycotts! Who marched in the streets! Who were prepared to suffer imprisonment! Who were banned and persecuted! Who were beaten, teargassed and shot down in the streets! Who suffered torture and even murder at the hands the racist Security Police! Who went to the gallows! We owe the coming of democracy to these millions who refused to submit to the superior power wielded by the forces of tyranny.

As a country and as a people we owe a great deal more to those who dared to struggle than to the silent conformists. It is those who were prepared to resist oppression, regardless of the cost to themselves, who have made freedom a realisable possibility. Democracy is a great opportunity for national rejuvenation. We must not throw it away! The struggle for democracy in South Africa has never been racially exclusive or racially defined. It has drawn support and adherents from South Africans of all races, colours and creeds. It has always held out the promise of what South Africa could become. A common home for all its people in their diversity. That is a legacy we shall always cherish.

Khotso e be le lena, Masione! Uxolo lu be nani Mazayoni!

Each Easter marks the rebirth of our faith. It marks the victory of our risen saviour over the torture of the cross and the grave. Our Messiah, who came to us in the form of a mortal man, but who by his suffering and crucifixion attained immortality. Our Messiah, born like an outcast in a stable, and executed like criminal on the cross. Our Messiah, whose life bears testimony to the truth that there is no shame in poverty: Those who should be ashamed are they who impoverish others. Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in being persecuted: Those who should be shamed are they who persecute others. Whose life proclaims the truth that there is no shame in being conquered; Those who should be ashamed are they who conquer others. Whose testifies to the truth that there is no shame in being dispossessed: Those who should be ashamed are they who dispossesses others. Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in being oppressed: Those who should be ashamed are they who oppress others.

Your Grace, Reverend Gentlemen Ministers and Elders of the Z.C.C.,

As a young man I decided to study the law with a view to using what little talent I had in the service of justice and the cause of my people. Like many before me and those of my generation, I entered legal practice with a determination to employ my skills and training to at least alleviate the suffering of the oppressed if not to reverse it. Years of practice at the bar,experience accumulated in the course of my political work, vindicated by the grisly record of repressive actions and legislation that followed year after year during the four decades of National Party misgovernment, demonstrated that there was no may in which a system that was inequitable and unjust in its essence could be modified. To our consternation, as soon as lawyers discovered a loophole in the oppressive laws, the National Party government took action to close it. By the 1960s, a comprehensive system of oppressive legislation had established a near to totalitarian grip over the country.That eventuality posed a challenge to us.I remain convinced that it was or willingness to rise to that challenge that paved the way to our present circumstances.

To build democracy from the ashes of decades of apartheid mismanagement will not be an easy task.But we have a vision and a plan that can translate that vision into concrete programmes to improve the quality of life of all South Africans. It is evident that with the advent of democracy investor confidence in South Africa is increasing.

In order to consolidate these gains requires a government that has legitimacy and enjoys the confidence of the majority of our people. It requires a government capable of marshalling the resources of our country in a comprehensive plan to eradicate the inequalities of apartheid. It requires a government committed to tackling the appalling levels of unemployment, which are the direct outcome of decades of apartheid.

We have placed job creation, the restoration of peace and stability, and the thorough democratisation of South African society at the top of our agenda. We are persuaded that the most valuable investment our country can make in the future is effectively harnessing all South Africa's human resources by expanding the opportunities for education and training. Greater opportunity will enhance the climate for economic growth,economic growth will create greater stability,and stability is the indispensable condition for the thriving of democracy.

The future holds many exciting new prospects for South Africa and its people. Years of international isolation, imposed because of apartheid are coming to an end. As a country we must be poised to seize these opportunities.The challenges ahead should not be seen as the tasks that await the government that will be elected on April 27th. They are challenges to us as a nation. Every South African should come forward to shoulder this collective responsibility so that we can all work together to build a better life for all.

Let me close my remarks on a note of hope appropriate to the festival we are marking. May this easter bring with it the blessings of our resurrected Lord and may His love shine upon our land and its people.

May the dawn of democracy bring with it the means to fulfil the prayers of our mothers and fathers; the means to realise the dreams of our daughters and our sons; the means to feed the millions who this night will sleep unfed; and the means to bring comfort to those who this night know despair.

May the Lord Almighty grant Your Grace the wisdom to continue your great work of spiritual guidance. You shall remain in our prayers, as we shall surely be in yours.

Note

EDITORIAL CHANGES
Paragraph beginning: "I consider it a privilege to be here with you once more this easter."
Changes made: All "easter" changed to "Easter"

Paragraph beginning: "South Africans of every race, gender,colour, creed, ethnic and language group have contributed to it."
Sentence in web text: "It is the outcome of decades of consistent and unrelenting struggle by millions of ordinary South Africans - women, men and even children - drawn from every region of our country who went out on strikes! who conducted boycotts! who marched in the streets! who were prepared to suffer imprisonment! who were banned and persecuted! who were beaten, teargassed and shot down in the streets! who suffered torture and even murder at the hands the racist Security Police! who went to the gallows! "
Changes made: Capitals after every !

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 13/11/06 by Helen Joannides

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