Item 1500 - KWV Award February 2003

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ZA COM MR-S-1500


KWV Award February 2003


  • 2003-02-01 (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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Harvest Celebration commemorating the producation of the first South African wine in 1659 and celebrating the blessing of the 345th harvest

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  • English

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Let me in the first place thank you for your gracious indulgence of my cluttered schedule, allowing me to first attend a function in connection with the recently established Mandela-Rhodes Foundation.

That is a joint venture between the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Rhodes Trust. We sincerely appreciate your generosity in understanding the importance to us of launching that initiative with the hundreds of visiting Rhodes scholars presently in South Africa to celebrate the centenary of the Rhodes Trust.

This is really turning out to be a night of historic connections as your award to us is part of your annual commemoration of the first pressing of grapes 344 years ago.

We had occasion at the earlier event held at Vergelegen commemorating the Rhodes Trust, to comment on the presence of the ghosts of Willem Adriaan van der Stel and Cecil John Rhodes at the gathering.

There must be a fair number of ghosts lurking around this occasion as well.

Thank you for the great honour of considering me worthy of an award in connection with an industry whose roots stretch way back in our history to the earliest years of European settlement.
Normally when I remark that an award to me is unwarranted, people think that it is but a form of mock modesty.

Tonight nobody can suspect that I am just playing modest when I make that remark.

I am a country boy from the deep rural Transkei, far away from the refinement and sophistication of the winelands. Then I went to Johannesburg, a rough town of mine dumps.

When I eventually moved closer to the winelands of the Cape it was unfortunately in environs that did not permit much participation in the wine industry.

Your award can therefore only be connected with the short period I spent in Victor Verster Prison surrounded by the beautiful vineyards of that area.

It was there that I had my education in wine tasting and drinking, a warder castigating me for ordering sweet white wine and instructing me to have dry wine. What is dry wine, I enquired; is not all wine wet?

Seriously though: I am deeply honoured and moved by your award also because it is such an unlikely connection.

Your motivation for the award, acknowledging the opening up of markets after the democratisation of our country, is in fact a recognition of all those who participated in that process of a peaceful transition.

I accept the award with great pride and do so in the name of the South African people and their political leaders who had the courage and wisdom to overcome and transcend destructive instincts in order to save their country from a bloodbath.

Today we can take hands and build and develop our country together, united in our diversity.

The wine industry is one steeped in tradition and history. That history also had strong feudal elements to it.

It is the challenge of our times to transform those practices and patterns so that all South Africans can proudly associate with every area of our national life.

We are delighted at the evidence of transformation already visible in the industry.

And we are confident that efforts to transform and make the industry even more inclusive will be redoubled under your wise leadership. It is in that spirit too that I so proudly accept the award.

In the agricultural sector, including the wine industry, the contribution of the workers is as essential as that of the managers and other professionals. We pay special tribute to them in accepting this award.

We look to the day when they, like all other sectors of our society, can truly say that they have achieved that better life we speak of; that they will be able to live in the full dignity that our Constitution speaks of.

You make mention in your letter of your appreciation of the fact that after democratisation our markets became open to the world. That is one of the most telling benefits of our change, viz that we were once more accepted into the family of nations.

Let us celebrate that together and let those of us who have the privilege of travelling and doing business abroad always be good ambassadors for our country.

Thank you once again for honouring us in this way.

May the industry go from strength to strength, contributing to the growth of our economy and the creation of a better life for all.

Having been on the farm of Willem Adriaan van der Stel earlier this evening, I think it would be appropriate for me to ask for a glass of Oom Tas to toast this occasion and to say "Gesondheid."

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation. Accessioned on 12/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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