Item 1119 - Address by Comrade Nelson Mandela at the Rally in Galeshewe

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ZA COM MR-S-1119


Address by Comrade Nelson Mandela at the Rally in Galeshewe


  • 1990-05-27 (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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ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare

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  • English

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Comrade Chairman,
Members of the ANC Interim Regional Committee,
Dear traditional leaders.
Residents of Galeshewe and all the people of the Northern Region,

I greet you in the name of the freedom struggle and of your organisation , the African National Congress. This is indeed a great moment for me. It fills me with great joy to be among the great fighters and heroes of our struggle in this pert of our country.

Your heroic struggles have made it possible for us to be here among you today, your sacrifices have brought our struggle to the level at which it is. Apartheid is in its death-bed. The goal we all cherish- the creation of a united, non-racial and democratic South Africa- is at hand. Your efforts have made all this a reality. And there is no going back.

I bring you greetings and words of praise from the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress. I bring you the most revolutionary greetings from your brothers and sisters in exile: members of the ANC and the people's army, Umkhonto we Sizwe. I bring you, in particular, greetings from our President, Comrade Oliver Tambo. Soon, he will join all of us within our beloved motherland. Soon, all our brothers and sisters will be among us, in the united effort to rid our country of the evil of apartheid..

The Northern Cape region occupies a special place in the history of our struggle. It stands shoulder to shoulder with all parts of South Africa in the steadfastness of the people, your heroism and your commitment to the cause of freedom and justice in our land. In this regard, we pay special tribute to the workers, the youth, the women, the religious community, traditional leaders and all other sectors of our people who have spared neither strength nor effort to bring change to this country.

We cast our eves back with pride to that great son of our people, Chief Galeshewe who led our people in the great battles of past centuries against the colonial invaders. In defence of our land, our livestock, our freedom and our dignity, Chief Geleshewe led the people in some of the fiercest battles our country has ever seen.

On this occasion, we pay tribute to the sons and daughters of this region who paid the supreme sacrifice following on the footsteps of our great forebears. We remember in particular Comrade Lahlile, a soldier of Umkhonto we Sizwe, who fell in combat here in Galeshewe. Our hearts fill with grief as we remember the young Tommy Maribudi and Jacob Mothibe, 14-year old victims of apartheid's war machine. Together with Stephen Thompson, they were murdered in cold blood only three weeks ago.

The African National Congress condemns these murders in the strongest terms. There was and there can never be any justification for the murder of our people, let alone teenagers. Any authority which feels threatened even by the cries of young children, does not deserve to rule. Any government which depends for its continued existence on the murder, detention and imprisonment of those it claims to represent cannot have long to live.

With the same respect and solidarity, we extend our words of encouragement to our friends and comrades on Death Row: our mother Evelyn Debruyn, the Upington 14 and many more through the length and breadth of our country. Any government which puts patriots on Death Row simply because they dared to oppose injustice is an unjust government and it must go.

The African National Congress is greatly concerned by the wave of murder and mayhem now sweeping parts of our country. As we talk to you today, victims of police and vigilante brutality are being buried in Welkom, Natal and other areas. We cannot allow this to continue.

We are very much aware of the painful experiences that the people in this region are going through. We share with you the t roubles, anxieties and fears bred by apartheid oppression and repression. It is the task of all patriots to bring this to an end. We must all join hands to bury the system of apartheid once and for all.

We are aware that students are not attending classes. And this concerns us as it concerns all parents. But we are also aware of the fact that this falls squarely in the hands of the police whose callous activities are making it difficult for students to learn. We insist that the government must look into these police actions an move with deliberate speed to normalise the situation, and create the atmosphere in which our youth can learn without fear of police harassment and brutality.

All that the, community here demands is that the safety of the community must be guaranteed both in the streets and within the school premises. Students and other activists must be released from detention abductions must stop. If the government truly wants peace not in word but in actual practice it must be prepared to listen to the representatives of the community. This is the spirit and letter of the Groote Schuur agreement and we insist that it must be adhered to.

Let me take this opportunity to report to you about the recent actions of your movement, the African National Congress. As you all know, a delegation of the ANC met the South African government a few weeks ago. We decided on this step precisely to help create the situation in which the South African population can go about its activities without the repressive laws and practices of apartheid. The purpose of the meeting was to clear the obstacles in the path of free political activity:
- removal, of the State of Emergency;
- the release of all political prisoners and detainees, including those on Death Row;
- the repeal: of all repressive legislation; and
- the unconditional return of al exiles.

It is in this meeting that the government committed itself to attend to all these matters in the shortest possible time. The African National Congress is working day and night to ensure that the results of the Groote Schuur summit are realised now and not later. Only the implementation of these demands can and will create the atmosphere in which peaceful negotiations can take place. Without this we face the danger of falling back into the dark pit of increased conflict and bloodshed.

The Groote Schuur summit did not itself constitute negotiations. It was a meeting aimed at removing the obstacles in the path of negotiations; to create the atmosphere for people to organise and mobilise freely. The African National Congress decided to embark on this path because we want to avoid further death and destruction We believe that this is not only possible but can be realised. But it all depends on what the government does to stop those who thirst for the blood of black people. Negotiations will come only it the government meets these demands of the people.

And as we have always stated, negotiations will be among representatives of the people, elected on the basis of one-person, one-vote on a common voters' roll. The African National Congress cannot and will not negotiate above the heads and behind the backs of the people. Questions about the future of our country are serious matters that have to involve all the people. Only mandated representatives of the people can claim the right to thrash out the future constitutional order.

We must also emphasise that the result of the negotiations process shall not depend so much on the skills of the negotiators, important as these skills might be. What we do in the theatre of struggle will determine whether or not we realise our cherished goal of a South. Africa based on the Freedom Charter. As we move into the phase of serious negotiations, we most keep in mind the fundamental fact that our case will be made the stronger, our ideals will be turned into reality only if they are backed by strong organisation and massive mobilisation.

As a result of struggle we have already achieved a great deal. The unbanning of organisations and the release of some political prisoners are som of the victories we have scored in struggle. But apartheid remains in place. Without the removal of this system the wretchedness and squalor we live in will remain unchanged. Our homelessness will continue to stalk us in the cold and rainy nights. The wealth of the country will remain in a few white hands . Above all, we shall forever remain oppressed subjects, ruled by an illegal government not based on the people's will. The challenge we all face is to rid our country of this system that has brought so much suffering to so many, and such privilege and comfort to so few.

If the opportunity to destroy this system, with the least suffering to the people, presents itself, the ANC will grab it with both hands. We are not, as much as you the people are not, blood--thirsty beings which pursue violent struggle for its own sake. We are not a pack of war-mongers who rejoice at the smell of human blood. It is precisely because the regime's army and police continue to murder and to maim; it is precisely because apartheid repression continues in its essential forms - it is because of these reasons that we talk of and continue to wage armed struggle. In the same vein, it is precisely because apartheid it alive and well that we call for the continuation of the campaign for the all-round isolation of the regime.

We make all these assertions not as arm-chair revolutionaries who, beyond mere talk, cannot implement any of their sweet-sounding phrases. We state this firmly, not because we simply seek to arouse the people in sinister political games. We
say all this as the firm conviction of an organisation tested in the crucible of actual struggle and actual sacrifice.

The world is behind us in our efforts. In all the visits that I have had occasion to undertake, be it in Africa or Europe, the ANC and the people of South Africa were assured of this support. At long as apartheid exists, so long will the international community stand by the struggling people; so long shall we be assured of the material, political and moral support of the overwhelming majority of mankind. The representatives of the old order can hob-knob, persuade and threaten; but they can never dream of any significant measure of support anywhere across the globe.

But, in the final analysis, it what we ourselves do, within South Africa which will determine the speed with which we shall attain freedom and justice. The small achievements that We have thus far made place even greater challenges on all of us, young and old, black and white.

Let us join the ANC in our millions and build it into a powerful mass-based representative of the oppressed and democratic forces of our country.

Let us strengthen people's organisations of the youth, women, students, traditional leaders, religious communities,
business-persons and many more, and forge them into a mighty force to challenge and defeat the system of apartheid.

Let us build street and village people's committees and ensure that people's power reigns in our communities.

Let all chiefs and other traditional leaders come together in democratic structures, swell the ranks of the forces of
fundamental change , and help bring to fruition the vision of the generals and fighters of past centuries.

We call on those serving in apartheid machineries to join the people in the struggle for a South Africa without oppression and injustice. Many such as Gregory Rockman and some bantustan leaders have taken bold steps in this direction. Those in the seats of apartheid's false power who refuse to heed the people's call and who elect to fight the masses can only reap the fruits of their foolish deeds.

Let us engage in disciplined mass actions around our day-to-day demands for higher wages, low rents, houses, low transport fares and so on . Let us act together around the call for a united, non-racial and democratic South Africa.

The hour to bury apartheid has come. Let us unite and do the historic deed.

Viva the ANC!

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 13/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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