Address by Nelson Mandela at the luncheon given by the Prime Minister of Finland, Mr Esko Aho

22 May 1992

Prime Minister Aho,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,

Allow me to express my deep appreciation to you for the opportunity to visit your country and exchange views. You must remember that for those of us from the far South, reindeer and Lapland are the stuff dreams and fairy tales are made of, so it is quite fascinating to be here. We are looking forward to our visit tomorrow to the Mannerheim Museum and Sibelius Monument.

You and your people are no strangers to oppression and resistance to foreign occupation. You clearly cherish and fiercely defend your hard-won independence and we congratulate you on the occasion of your 75th anniversary. We have every confidence that precisely because of your own history and respect for the right of nations to self-determination, you will continue to support our struggle for democracy, human rights and freedom against one of the most evil systems known to humankind - apartheid.

Southern Africa is not simply a far-off land to you. While in prison we followed with keen interest your role in the independence struggle of Namibia, particularly through Mr Ahtisaari. Given this background, we have no doubt that you understand and will support our call for international monitoring teams to urgently investigate the horrific violence that has been unleashed against our people. The tasks facing us are, without support from our friends, overwhelming. As outlined in our discussions this morning, we need assistance for a massive, non-partisan voter education campaign. We need help to put in place a peace-keeping monitoring team on the ground, to make the provisions of the National Peace Accord work.

We are fighting against a ruthless opponent that uses the vast resources of state, including tax payers money, for its own political ends. This includes the secret funding of political organisations opposed to democracy so as to create the impression of different political perspectives among the oppressed themselves. Such manipulation also plays a key role in the destabilisation of the whole peace process.

We thank you again for the opportunity to brief you on why Codesa II failed to achieve the breakthrough we had hoped for, due to the refusal of the regime to accept majority rule. We are confident you will not stand by and watch our years of effort and sacrifice disintegrate. We count on your continued support so that we too, like the people of Finland, can breathe the air of freedom in our own land.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation