Message from Nelson Mandela to Arthur Krim on the occasion of The People for the American Way Ward Ceremony

8 November 1992

South Africa, located as it is on the very tip of the African continent, could easily be a country naturally isolated from the world. But history tells us a different story. Despite great distances the impact of new ideas, of the courage of extraordinary human beings, has been felt among our people.

Noble principles guide our objectives, not least among them individual and national liberty, as well as respect for fellow human beings irrespective of race, colour or creed.

Such ideals are all-important in a society in transition: the need to combat both religious and political intolerance, the urgency to foster a climate of debate, the imperative to defend the public's right to civil protest in order to achieve a vibrant, open and truly pluralistic democracy.

We in South Africa, who have known decades of racial oppression and the denial of freedom of speech, take pleasure in numbering among our friends Arthur Krim. His deep commitment to the elimination of apartheid and promotion of non-racialism has left an indelible impression on many leading members of the ANC. His warmth and hospitality has been experienced by such outstanding South African freedom fighters are the late Johnstone Makatini, Oliver Tambo, Thabo Mbeki and others.

It is this firm friendship that I, too, experienced when I met Arthur. It made me realise how, despite the many miles that separate us, you have taken us into your hearts and your lives.

The "Spirit of Liberty" Award symbolises your lifelong commitment to the highest ideals humanity strives for. We extend our heartfelt congratulations, knowing that these noble values cannot be contained by any force on earth. You have helped spread them to far-off lands like ours, and for this our entire people will be eternally grateful. We wish you a wonderful celebration you so richly deserve.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation