Address by President Nelson Mandela at the celebration of Beyers Naude's 80th birthday

23 May 1995

Oom Bey and Tannie Ilse;
Compatriots and friends.

The good book tell us that it is given to human beings to live for three score years and ten, or by reason of strength, for score years. Dr Beyers Naude has reached his four score years, proving to us yet again that he is a man of strength. His is a strength of body and of mind, and of that indomitable spirit that defied the evil of apartheid to make him a hero of our people. Oom Bey may your years still be long upon this earth.

Beyers Naude became an outcast amongst the Afrikaners, amongst many whites and amongst the church that he loved. Such is the price that prophets are required to pay. Standing in the tradition of great Afrikaners and Patriots like Braam Fischer, Betty Du Toit and others, his life is a shining beacon to all South Africans - both black and white. It demonstrates what it means to rise above race, to be a true South African. If someone asks me what kind of a person a New South African should be, I will say: Take a look at Beyers and his wife Ilse.

I want this evening, on behalf of South Africans, to thank Beyers and Ilse Naude for their sacrifice. And I want to use this opportunity to call on all Christians, not least members of the NG Kerk, to take note of the positive contribution of this Afrikaner prophet. The time of conflict in our land is over. We must embrace one another on the basis of justice and nurture the extended family to which we all belong.

It was another great prophet, Martin Luther King, who once said: 'If we do not learn to live together we shall die together.' We have already made our decision in this regard. In last year's election, and the miraculous transition that followed, we decided that we are going to live together. The Church, the Mosque, the Temple and Synagogue, in short, all people of faith, are play their part. Oom Bey and Tannie Ilse paved the way during difficult years; and they remain in the company of our lodestars. Their force of example and message are simple: We must build one another and build together.

It is a fitting tribute to Beyers Naude that a FESTSCHRIFT should today be launched in his honour. It was a special privilege for me to write the foreword to that book. I join with the publishers, the editors and others who contributed to this volume, in celebrating its launch. Entitled `MANY CULTURES, ONE NATION', the book deals with a vitally important theme in South African politics - cultural diversity and national unity. Our struggle to make sense of the plural nature of a single identity, as a single nation, has only just begun.

I close where I began. Beyers you are eighty years old. We wish you many happy returns. May Gold bless you and Ilse.

Now - I invite you to drink a toast to a great South African.

Ek versoek u om saam met my 'n heildronk te drink op 'n groot Suid-Afrikaner, 'n seun van Afrika, 'n Afrikaner wat vir die hele land 'n inspirasie was en nog steeds is.

Beyers, ons drink op jou gesondheid. En ons wens jou en Ilse alles van die beste toe vir die jare wat nog voorle. Mag julle die vrede en rus geniet wat julle toekom. En mag Suid-Afrika die soort land word waarvoor julle so hard geveg het, en soveel opgeoffer het.

Baie dankie.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation