President Clinton's weekly radio address broadcast - Interview with Nelson Mandela
8 October 1994
Good morning. This week I'm honored to be joined by President Nelson Mandela of South Africa - a man who has been a hero for people in every corner of the world. For a long time the name Nelson Mandela has stood for the quest for freedom. His spirit never bent before the injustice of his 27 years of imprisonment. Apartheid could not silence him. And when he was freed, Americans all across this country who had fought for justice in South Africa rejoiced.
After his long struggle, Nelson Mandela found in himself the strength to reach out to others; to build up instead of tear down. He led his country forward, always choosing reconciliation over division. This is the miracle of the new South Africa.
Time and again, President Mandela showed real wisdom and rose above bitterness. President Mandela and the South African people, both black and white, have inspired others around the world. In our own hemisphere today, the people of Haiti are emerging out of fear into freedom. Now Haitians have the chance to do what South Africans have done - to bring together a country where there have been deep and bloody divisions. It can be done, and the United States stands ready to help.
We must do all we can to help civil societies free themselves from the shackles of repression; to sustain their fragile democracies; and to defeat the forces of destruction that threaten all of us. That's why America stands with Nelson Mandela and the South African people through economic assistance, through trade and investment to help them to build the thriving democracy they so richly deserve; and why we're working to help the Haitian people stand up and reclaim their freedom and their future. too.
Now I'd like to ask President Mandela to speak with you.
PRESIDENT MANDELA: Thank you, Mr President. It is a pleasure for me to take part in this discussion with you. Over the last few days I have had occasion to meet various leaders of the American people - government, business, religious leaders, and others both in New York and now in Washington.
I leave your country with fond memories of the many encounters I had with people of the great country. When I reach South Africa, I will be able to tell our people that in your nation we have got true friends - friends in need, friends indeed.
In the past, I came here as the freedom fighter - a black South African denied the vote in my own country. But today, I speak to you as a representative of our nation; as the head of the first ever democratic government in South Africa. The victory of democracy in our country is a victory of the American people, as well, because you took up South Africa's struggle as your own. You did so in the full understanding that the American dream is a dream that all the world's people deserve; that a new world is in the making in which humanity should be united in its diversity of race, gender, language and religion.
South Africa is free at last. All our people are now working together to capture new frontiers, to deal with the legacy of apartheid, in the battle against poverty, disease, illiteracy and homelessness. This is in itself a small miracle. In the discussion I had with you, Mr President, we were left with no doubt, that this administration is prepared to assist us in our endeavors for a better life. We discussed a wide range of issues and firmed up agreements covering areas of economic cooperation and the promotion of world peace, democracy and human rights.
The business leaders I met have responded positively to South Africa's call for more investments. They agree, as I am convinced all Americans will too, that now is the time to set up companies in South Africa and help create jobs. The survival of democracy in our country relies a great deal on increased investments and trade.
South Africa has regional economic policies, banking and other sophisticated infrastructure for business to thrive. We have the natural resources. We are endowed with beautiful landscapes and a rich culture that you should come and savor.
Dear Americans, I depart from your shores reinforced that we are poised to build a new and enduring partnership. I will always cherish the warmth I received during my stay here in the Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, in the meetings with business leaders, at the White House and at the joint sitting of Congress and other meetings at Capitol Hill. Above all, I felt very keenly the warmth and love of American citizens in the streets wherever I went. I hope you felt the same way too, because we South Africans love you all, and you shall forever remain in our hearts. I thank you.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you, Mr President. This week I pledged to President Mandela that the United States will continue to support his nation just as we have since before his election. And I want to encourage all of our citizens, and especially our businesses, to accept the President's invitation to invest, to build in his country, to visit his country. A flourishing South Africa involved in the rest of the world is in our interest.
President Mandela was right the other day when he called the transformation of his country an achievement of all humanity. The kind of peaceful development we're seeing in South Africa will inspire progress all around the world. Now South Africa is a model for building the open, tolerant societies that share our values. And when we look around the world at the stirring changes in Russia, the moving developments in Northern Ireland, the stunning achievements of the peace initiatives in the Middle East, we see the prospects for democracy and peace growing.
Our mission is to build a new world for our children - more democratic, more prosperous, more free of ancient hatreds and modern means of destruction. This is no easy task. But more nations than ever are choosing democracy and more are embracing the values of tolerance that allow each of us to make the most of our God-given potential. Freedom is on the march, and that is good news for all of us.
Once again, let me thank the symbol of freedom for the world, President Mandela, for visiting us here in the United States. And thank you all for listening.
Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation