Thousands of South Africans have this photo hanging in the walls of their homes, taken at the first speech of Nelson Mandela after being released on the balcony of Cape Town’s town hall in 11 February 1990. I can recall from the few months I lived in South Africa the pride and joy of the people of Nelson Mandela character and example.
“Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands. (…) I greet the traditional leaders of our country – many of you continue to walk in the footsteps of great heroes like Hintsa and Sekhukune. I pay tribute to the endless heroism of youth, you, the young lions. You, the young lions, have energised our entire struggle. I pay tribute to the mothers and wives and sisters of our nation. You are the rock-hard foundation of our struggle. Apartheid has inflicted more pain on you than on anyone else. (…) In conclusion I wish to quote my own words during my trial in 1964. They are true today as they were then: ‘I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.'”
Get well soon!