Item 1261 - Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the Premiere of Cry The Beloved Country

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ZA COM MR-S-1261


Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the Premiere of Cry The Beloved Country


  • 1995-10-23 (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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Premiere of Cry the Beloved Country

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  • English

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Chairperson and Dear Friends;

I was hauled by Anant Singh and my bosses a few days ago, to a theatre to view a film, for the first time in many years. And I should say I enjoyed every moment of it.

Much of what is portrayed in Cry the Beloved Country evokes strong emotions about the terrible past from which South Africa has just emerged. Cry the Beloved Country, however, is also a monument to the future.

One of South Africa's leading humanists, Alan Paton vividly captured his eloquent faith in the essential goodness of people in his epic work: a goodness that helped nourish the small miracle of our transition and arrested attempts by disciples of apartheid to turn our country into a wasteland; an attribute that is at the foundation of our people's nation-building effort.

Paton was right, in his time and circumstances, to despair at seeing no peaceful way beyond the oppressors' denial of the humanity of the majority. Though he could not himself come to terms with the necessity of armed resistance, he recognised its inevitability.

When he gave evidence in mitigation in our trial, he acknowledged that the accused had had only two alternatives: 'to bow their heads and submit, or to resist by force'.

Cry the Beloved Country is a film that for my generation will evoke bitter-sweet memories of our youth. Urbanisation was costly and painful. But the sweetness of an emerging urban culture in Alexandra township and Sophiatown now and then overcame the stench of decay. Such was the case both in social life and in the rudiments of working class and intellectual political organisation.

In a sense, Cry the Beloved Country represents a tribute to South Africa's youth. For they bore the brunt of the dislocation that apartheid urbanisation wrought on our communities. It is for this reason that they became the torch-bearers under the most trying circumstances.

When democratic South Africa was able for the first time to celebrate their bravery and affirm its confidence in them on June 16 last year, I took the opportunity to announce the setting up of our Children's Fund. Thus we could help redeem our children's suffering by joining them in building a happy tomorrow.

The Fund aims to contribute in a humble manner to the alleviation of the plight of young people who are homeless, those who have not had the benefit of formal education and those in detention or prison.

Today's premiere of Cry The Beloved Country confirms once more our confidence in the future. It is causes such as this which bring to the fore men and women of goodwill and talent.

Anant Singh, Darrel Roodt, Vusi Kunene, Leleti Khumalo and others belong in that category; and we thank them most profoundly for this fine work of art.

The talent and creativity that was virtually unrecognised under the apartheid jackboot, is today able to shine. Combined with the skill and experience of compassionate friends of South Africa, such as James Earl Jones and Richard Harris, this film and its message reinforce our friendship across oceans and adds value to the treasure-house of culture in general.

We thank all who contributed in this film for your generosity. You have not only identified difficulties issuing from the past; but, by setting the scene for the launch tonight of Friends of the Children's Fund, you are contributing to finding the answers.

We are grateful for your efforts. By investing in the youth, you are investing in the future.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 22/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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