Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet hosted by President Sharma of India

25 January 1995

President Shanker Dayal Sharma;
Prime Minister Rao;
Honourable Ministers;
Your excellencies, Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

May I express my heartfelt appreciation of the splendid welcome you have afforded our delegation today. This excellent banquet, this gathering of distinguished guests, the warmth we have encountered at every step; all these things remind us that we are among very special friends.

Not that anyone could ever have doubted India's concern for the people of South Africa.

With an unfaltering belief in justice and a recognition that none could be truly free while others were oppressed, India came to our aid when the rest of the world stood by or gave succour to our oppressors. Even before India had gained its own independence, you identified with our cause and insisted that all the nations of the world should make it their cause too. When the doors of international councils were closed to us, India opened the way. You took up our battle as your own battle. Now that we have been victorious, it cannot be said too often that our victory is also India's victory.

When we drew from India was practical aid when it was sorely needed; the inspiration of successful resistance to a powerful oppressor; the example if defiance and forms of struggle that enriched our own traditions of struggle; a clear sighted internationalism.

I consequently speak for all South African when I say that our victory would have been less complete without your unfaltering support. Humanity has been enriched through your efforts.

And now it is possible for the very first time for the Heads of State of our two countries to meet, with out peoples united in peace and truly free, with the prospect of a future rich with potential for cooperation in pursuit of peace and prosperity for all.

To the partnership which we seek to establish with you, we bring a nation which; in the very short time in which it has known peace and freedom, has shown a remarkable determination to leave behind its history of division and conflict. It has displayed resolution in seeking out the most realistic and effective ways of addressing the central task it has set itself, that of transforming society in order to improve the lives of especially the poor.

This requires mobilisation of all the sectors of our population, including workers and business, in the effort to eradicate the legacy of apartheid.

In these efforts, we have benefited from the profound experiences of India, not least from the facilities you have offered us for the training of our cadres. The agreements signed this morning are a profound expression of the possibilities that exist for us to speed up the strengthening of our relations, including the critical areas of transfer of relevant technology, trade and investment.

I am convinced, Your Excellency, that we are poised to build a unique and special partnership--a partnership forged in the crucible of history, common cultural attributes and common struggle. But it is, above all, a partnership promised on building a future that will benefit our peoples and the nations of the Indian Ocean Rim.

At last, a natural relationship which was held captive by the dictates of apartheid can come of its own: flourishing in the fertile ground of the best values humanity can offer.

I should also take this opportunity to thank you, Mr President, for the high-level delegation that you sent to our inauguration. Since then, we have laid the basis for us to move forward together into an era of co-operation. What has been forged in a common fight for freedom can now flourish in a time of peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Allow me to propose a toast to the health of the President Sharma, to peace and cooperation between our great nations.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation