Item 1424 - Speech at F W De Klerk's 70th birthday celebration

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ZA COM MR-S-1424

Title

Speech at F W De Klerk's 70th birthday celebration

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  • 2006-03-18 (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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70th birthday of FW de Klerk

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  • English

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TRANSCRIPT

Geagte FW
Dis goed om te sien hoe ons saam oud word. Ek het darem nog my hare, al is dit 'n bietjie gryser. Ek kan jou verseker dis nie jy wat my hare gryser gemaak het oor die laaste sestien jaar nie. Ek hoop ook nie dat ek oor die jare bygedra het om joune te laat uitval nie.
FW, you and I have shared in some not too unimportant events over the last decade and a half. I am very happy that we as two retired and almost forgotten men also share the gentle quietness of ageing. You may gloat that you are about twenty
years behind me in this process. But remember that I spent almost thirty years idly relaxing on islands and in other resorts while you were battling it out in the maddening crowd. So, in reality we are almost of equal age. And therefore, welcome to the club.
Seriously : we did share and jointly participated in moments that, in all humility on our parts, might have
helped to shape our country, our continent and, in modest ways, the world.
I had occasion in the past to say that our country does not sufficiently acknowledge the crucial role that F W de Klerk played in bringing us to where we are today. I am happy to observe that that has changed. There is almost unchallenged recognition and appreciation that without the courageous foresight of F W de Klerk we might well have descended into the destructive racial conflagration that all were predicting.
Last year's invitation to you to address Parliament and share as a major participant in its celebrations was such a great
demonstration of a once divided country making peace with itself.
President Mbeki has acknowledged you in many ways as one of the great contributors to our peaceful transition and to the building of a new nation. Around the world people recognize you as a historic peacemaker and nation-builder.
What more can I add but to repeat what 1 have said so often over the last sixteen years. You have shown courage as few have done in similar circumstances. It is not to reflect upon your forebears when I comment upon how remarkable it is
that the direct descendant of Prime Minister Hans Strijdom and Senator Jan de Klerk - both stalwarts of the
National Party and therefore of apartheid - could stand up when the moment came to decisively start
the total dismantling of apartheid and minority rule.
You and I have had our differences, some of them very public. Our basic respect for one another has, however, never diminished. And it was that respect for the other irrespective of all differences - that made it possible for us, and our
organizations, to work together and to negotiate that historic compromise that the world marveled at. If we two old or
ageing, men have any lessons for our country and for the world, it is that solutions to conflicts can only be found if adversaries are fundamentally prepared to accept the integrity of each other.
I am certain that you woke up this morning with a sense of fulfillment, observing how your country has progressed and developed during these twelve years of democracy a dispensation which your courageous actions helped bring about. And I respect you enormously for the manner in which you have gone around the world promoting our country and commending its achievements. At home you have worked tirelessly in the cause of national reconciliation and nation-building.
My wife, Graca joins me in wishing you a very happy birthday. May you and Elita enjoy the happiness of togetherness for many years still. And may you continue to build on the foundations of our new nation which you helped to lay. I am proud
to have been able to share with you in so many historic moments in our country's development.
Laat dit goed gaan en mag jy saggies oud word.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: Transcribed by NMF. Accessioned on 2015/07/06 by Rivo and Themba

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