Item 1074 - Speech on the occasion of the donation of the Rhodes Building to the Mandela Rhodes Foundation

Identity area

Reference code

ZA COM MR-S-1074


Speech on the occasion of the donation of the Rhodes Building to the Mandela Rhodes Foundation


  • August 2003 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

Context area

Name of creator

(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

Biographical history

Archival history

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

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Donation of the historic Rhodes Building by De Beers to the Mandela Rhodes Foundation

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area



Nicky, thank you for those kind words and the great generosity of this gesture.

Not that I should ever have expected less from you; your father was a man who in his quiet and unassuming manner almost castigated me for ever doubting that he would respond generously to calls for support of worthy causes. You have today again demonstrated that the spirit of philanthropy lives on in this famous family and in this great family business.

We are sometimes still asked by people how we could agree to have our name linked to that of Cecil John Rhodes in this Mandela-Rhodes initiative. To us the answer is easy, and we have explained the logic of our decision on a number of occasions. We have referred to our Constitution’s injunction for us to come together across historical divides to build our country together into a future equally shared by all.

The event of this morning gives further concrete answer to that question.

The erstwhile company of Cecil John Rhodes, in which members of the Oppenheimer family were and remain such illustrious and great South African successors, has today once more demonstrated its commitment to transformation and, in fact, reparation.

The question of reparation has recently been quite topical with lawsuits initiated against South African companies in foreign courts. The South African President and government have come out clearly and unequivocally on this matter. South Africans are competent to deal with issues of reconciliation, reparation and transformation amongst themselves without outside interference, instigation or instruction. We have dealt with our political transition in that manner and we are capable of dealing with other aspects of our transformation in similar ways.

We see the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation as a significant initiative within that broader framework of South Africans taking responsibility for the transformation of their society so grievously skewed by a history of colonialism and apartheid. We shall once more take hands across historical divides that others may deem unbridgeable.

Nicky, you and Jonathan have over the last few weeks again shown the commitment of your family, and hence the Rhodes legacy, to be centrally involved in transformation. I refer to the Brenthurst initiative in which you seek to promote black economic empowerment with growth. I am not enough of an economist to comment on the substance of the proposals. What I can do, is to commend you and Jonathan for taking the lead in stimulating this important debate about economic transformation.

And again, I am sure that Cecil John Rhodes would have given his approval to this effort to make the South African economy of the early twenty-first century appropriate and fit for its time.

This building at which we stand today was commissioned by Cecil John Rhodes. It is a historical landmark in this city. The announcement of a new period in the use of the building marks another symbolic and substantive step on the long road of South Africans reshaping their future.

We look forward to the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation contributing to that making of new South African history. May the Foundation’s work be worthy of the magnificence of these premises.

Nicky, thank you very much.

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

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




Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places