Item 1073 - Address at sitting of joint houses of Parliament, Westminster in celebration of 100 years of Rhodes Scholars

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ZA COM MR-S-1073


Address at sitting of joint houses of Parliament, Westminster in celebration of 100 years of Rhodes Scholars


  • 2003-07-02 (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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Ceremony to celebrate 100 years of the Rhodes Scholarship

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  • English

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The last time we had the honour of speaking in these historic chambers, addressing the joint houses of Parliament as visiting head of state of the new democratic South Africa, we had occasion to dwell at some length on the history of the relationship between our two countries and people.

We concluded that address in 1996 with an appeal to the future, a future of partnership.

"To close the circle," we said, "let our peoples, the ones formerly poor citizens and the others good patricians - politicians, business people, educators, health workers, scientists, engineers and technicians, sports people and entertainers, activists for charitable relief - join hands to build on what we have achieved together and help construct a humane African world, whose emergence will say a new universal order is born in which we are each our brother's keeper. And so let that outcome, as we close a chapter of two centuries and open a millennium, herald the advent of a glorious summer of a partnership for freedom, peace, prosperity and friendship."

Today we return to this place privileged to participate in the announcement of exactly one such partnership as hoped for in those concluding remarks of seven years ago.

We celebrate the centenary of the Rhodes Trust, and join in extending our congratulations on a century of sterling work in fostering and developing intellectual leadership in many countries throughout the world. And we celebrate that century of achievement also through the founding of a new initiative based on a partnership between the Rhodes Trust and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

We have agreed to and support this joint initiative believing that the bringing together of those two names represents a symbolic moment in the closing of the historic circle referred to. And we know with confidence that the work of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation will substantively contribute to a better life for the people of South Africa and further abroad on the African continent.

It was in South Africa that Cecil John Rhodes, that great entrepreneur, made most of the money which he left in legacy for scholars from across the world to benefit from for the past hundred years. It speaks of a growing sense of global responsibility that in this second century of its operations the Rhodes Trust finds it appropriate to redirect some of its attention and resources back to the origin of that wealth. We can only imagine how Rhodes himself would have identified with this decision to develop human capacity in modern day South Africa, enabling that country to continue being a competitive presence in the world as it was in those fields within which he operated during his times.

We are mindful of the honour and significance attached to our name in this joining up with that of Cecil John Rhodes. We recognise that the name and person of Mandela are being accorded historic symbolism in this new initiative.

We shall be truly honoured if all who use our name in praise do so in full recognition that what is accorded Mandela should stand for every single South African and African. We would feel demeaned if adulation paid to us is to set us apart from the masses from which we come and in whose name we achieved whatever it is we are deemed to have achieved.

Ours is the name for the labourer who toils on the African farm, fighting for a life of dignity; the girl child battling against great odds for an opportunity to realise her potential; the poor AIDS orphan bereft of family or care; the rural poor eking out a subsistence, deprived of the most basic services and facilities. It is in their names and those of others like them, and in the name of all South Africans, that we lend ours to this initiative, seeking that a better future be built for all of them.

In this, I am certain, Cecil John Rhodes and I would have made common cause.

We were asked to name four persons to the founding board of trustees of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation. The importance we attach to the initiative is, we hope, reflected in the stature and quality of the four South Africans we chose to partner with those nominated by the Rhodes Trust.

Ms Phumzile Ngcuka Mlambo is currently the South African Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs, one of those South African women demonstrating the crucial leadership role of women in that society. She brings with her a wealth of experience in education and development work.

Judge Yvonne Mokgoro, formerly professor of law at the University of the Western Cape at a time when that faculty was playing a central part in conceiving our new constitution and bill of rights, is a member of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and generally regarded as one of our leading legal minds.

Professor Njabulo Ndebele is a prominent South African writer and scholar. He was Pro-Vice Chancellor at the National University of Lesotho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of the Western Cape, Vice-Chancellor at the University of the North and is currently the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town with which Rhodes has strong historic ties.

Chairman of the Mandela Rhodes Trust is Professor Jakes Gerwel, formerly Vice- Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, and thereafter Secretary of the Cabinet in our Government of National Unity and Director-General of my Office. He is the Chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and of the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa. He is also, very appropriately, the Chancellor of Rhodes University.

Professor Gerwel was, together with Dr John Rowett of the Rhodes Trust, the principal conceiver of the idea of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation and the person who brought the idea to me and persuaded me of the great potential of the initiative.

Dr Rowett deserves our respect and congratulations for the vision and spirit of generosity in steering the Rhodes Trust towards this form of co-operation as it enters its second century. The fruits of this venture will be part of his legacy in the Rhodes Trust.

The joint CEO of the Rhodes Mandela Foundation together with Dr Rowett, is Mr John Samuel, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and a South African who has left a large imprint on educational policy and practice in that country.

We are also pleased to announce the recent appointment as Executive Director of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation of Mr Shaun Johnson. Shaun Johnson is himself a Rhodes scholar and a young South African who, as a journalist and public intellectual, contributed enormously to the attainment and consolidation of democracy in our country. We are looking forward with great confidence to him building the new Foundation into an organisation that will in its field achieve as much as the Rhodes Trust has done over the last hundred years.

We acknowledge with great appreciation the initial benefaction made to the new Foundation by the Rhodes Trust, and recognise the significance of benefactions pledged by two South African giants, De Beers and Anglo-American. We look forward to the new generation of South African business people contributing to this joint venture, the closing of that historic circle.

We cannot conclude without again quoting those evocative phrases from the preamble of the South African Constitution, capturing the spirit in which this initiative was conceived.

"We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past,
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our
country; and,
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united
in our diversity."

May our children gather here in less than a hundred years to celebrate the fruits of the partnership forged in that spirit of our Constitution.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 12/03/09 by Razia Saleh




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