Item 633 - Speech by President Mandela at a reception hosted by President Clinton

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ZA COM MR-S-633

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Speech by President Mandela at a reception hosted by President Clinton

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  • 1998-09-22 (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 Website

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Reception hosted by President Clinton ; The speech on page 1 of the Transcript Section is the one issued by the Office of the President which is both on the ANC website and the South African Government Information Website. It is assumed that the speech on page 2 is the one actually given as it

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  • English

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TRANSCRIPT

President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton;
Rev Bernice King;
Distinguished Guests,

No visit to the United States by a representative of the South African people would be complete without an opportunity to meet with those who are gathered here tonight.

For us, probably on our last official visit to your country, it has special meaning, and I most sincerely thank our hosts for making it possible.

More than friends, we are amongst those on whom history has visited the same pains and deprivations; and who have shared our victories.

The founders of our liberation movement drew deep inspiration at the turn of the century from black American's striving under difficult circumstances to fulfil our common aspiration for the restoration of human dignity.

It is small wonder that the struggle to end apartheid drew such strength from here, or that we now look to you to work with us as we seek to banish poverty, hunger, illiteracy and ignorance from our land.

Mr. President, by embodying your identification with these shared aspirations in the programme of your administration, you have won for yourself a warm place in the heart of the South African people, as you witnessed on your visit to our country earlier this year.

We know that we have your understanding as we seek with the countries of the South to shift the world economic system towards the needs of the poor and the weak.

We are aware of the national debate that is taking place in this country about the President, and it is not our business to interfere in this matter.

But we do wish to say that President Clinton is a friend of South Africa and of Africa and I believe the friend of the great mass of black people of the United States. Few leaders of the United States have such a feeling for the position of black people.

We have often said that our morality does not allow us to desert our friends, and we would want to say tonight: we are thinking of you in this difficult and distressing time in your life.

Friends;

For us, above all the coming century must be the African century. Together we have long dreamt of the African Renaissance, whose time has come.

It is a joy to be today with men and women whom we know will be our partners in that glorious rebirth.

I thank you.

Note

TRANSCRIPT

THIS VERSION IS FROM:
COPYRIGHT © 1998 BY FEDERAL DOCUMENT CLEARING HOUSE, INC. Author not available, NELSON MANDELA PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA DELIVERS REMARKS AT A RECEPTION IN HIS HONOR. , Washington Transcript Service, 09-22-1998.


SPEAKERS: NELSON MANDELA, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

MANDELA: Thank you. President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton, Reverend Bernice King (ph), distinguished guests, and friends.

When I turned 70, a young lady who is now principal of a leading university in the country, came to see me in prison. She was blunt and straightforward -- did not flatter me. She didn't say I came to see you here because of my interest in you. She said, if my father were alive today, he would have been 70. And when I read in the papers that you were turning 70 today, I thought I should come and see how a man of 70 looks like.

(LAUGHTER)

Now, I've turned 80. I suspect that many of you came here to see --

(LAUGHTER)

To see what a man of 80 looks like.

No visit to the United States by a representative of the South African people would be complete without an opportunity to meet with those who are gathered here tonight. For us, probably on our last official visit to your country, it has special meaning and I most sincerely thank our host for making it possible.

More than friends, we are among those on whom history has visited the same pains and deprivations, and who have shared our victories.

The founders of our liberation movement drew deep inspiration at the turn of the century from black American's striving under difficult circumstances to fulfil our common aspiration for the restoration of human dignity. It is small wonder that the struggle to end apartheid drew such strength from here, or that we now look to you to work with us as we seek to banish poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and ignorance from our land.

Mr. President, by embodying (ph) your identification with these shared aspirations in the program of your administration, you have won for yourself a warm place in the heart of the South African people, as you witnessed on your visit to our country earlier this year.

We know that we have your understanding as we seek with the countries of the south to shift the world economic system towards the needs of the poor and the weak. We are aware of the national debate that is taking place in this country about the president, and it is not our business to interfere in this matter. But we do wish to say that President Clinton is a friend of South Africa and Africa. And I believe the friend of the great mass of black people, and the minorities and the disabled of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

MANDELA: Few leaders of the United States have such a feeling for the position of the black people and the minorities in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

We have often said that our morality does not allow us to desert our friends.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will doubtless (ph) say tonight -- We are thinking of you in this difficult and discouraging time in your life.

Two days ago, the President of Zambia, Frederick Chiluba, phoned me. Now, he's far younger than me. I think he's in his sixties.

(LAUGHTER)

And admits (ph) he only speaks to me with great respect. And sometimes when we don't agree and he says -- Now, look, I'm not convinced, Mr. President of what you're saying, but in our custom we never challenge an old man.

(LAUGHTER)

But he projected a new image two days ago when he phoned me. He did not make a request to me. He gave me an instruction.

(LAUGHTER)

And he said -- Mandela (ph), I want you to support President Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

He was not speaking for himself and he said so. He said -- I am speaking for the continent of Africa.

(APPLAUSE)

When he addressed our Parliament, he almost brought down the walls of that building when he said -- "We, in the United States have been asking the wrong question. We have been saying: What can we do for Africa?"

That was a wrong question. The right question was: "What can we do with Africa?"

(APPLAUSE)

That is the man, my friend, who I respect so much, but it clearly is changing American foreign policy, to the satisfaction of all those who accepted the United States as a world leader, with the biggest economy in the world. And he is decisively changing American policy.

Now (ph), I repeat that I will not interfere in the domestic affairs of this country.

(LAUGHTER)

But you should have seen the way he was received by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

(APPLAUSE)

The applause was spontaneous and overwhelming -- all of us rose to our feet when he came in. It was the same after he delivered his speech.

That sent a strong message as to what the world thinks on this matter (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

The men and women who were there come from every part of the globe. They are leaders of thoughts -- presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, and other opinion makers. That was the strong message they sent. If you judge from the reaction of the National Assembly, the United States is completely isolated on this question.

(APPLAUSE)

But if our expectations -- if our fondest prayers and dreams are not realized, then we should all bear in mind that the greatest glory of living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: I want to leave you on a high note here.

(LAUGHTER)

I want to tell you a story I've never told the President. I have a friend who is a minister -- a white minister who was in South Africa recently. And he was given the chance to meet the President, but he was told you'll have to go to the airport if you want to meet the President. He said: "I'd go anywhere to shake his hand."

So he said I was standing off here waiting for him to come, and here comes the President across the lobby of the airport. And he said, President Mandela walked up to this gorgeous little blond-haired, blue-eyed girl about six years old, and my friend went up to hear the conversation.

And he said to the little girl: "Do you know who I am?" She said: "Yes, you're President Mandela." And he looked at her and he said: "If you study hard and learn a lot, you can grow up to be President of South Africa some day."

(APPLAUSE)

That's a lot to say after this life. Remember the point.

God bless you all. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 11/12/06 by Helen Joannides

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