Address by President Nelson Mandela at a kgotla (traditional assembly), Serowe

6 September 1995

Honourable Ministers Blackbeard and Chiepe;
District Commissioner Kgosi Kgamane;
Council Chairman;
Brothers and Sisters.

I am greatly honoured to be invited to join you in this kgotla.

We have come to your country to have discussions with President Masire and to talk with your Government. Our meetings have borne fruit and both our nations will benefit from this friendship between our countries.

But my visit to Botswana would not be complete without an opportunity to join you, the people, in such a gathering.

The people of Botswana and the people of South Africa have so much in common. We share a long history. And yet this is the first time in that history that a South African Head of State visits your country on an official state visit.

This is not my first visit to Botswana. I was here as early as 1962, when the armed struggle for liberation was just beginning. Then too, we were received with warm hospitality, although I could not stay long.

The apartheid regime hoped that through kidnappings, bombings, armed raids and assassinations that violated the sovereignty and peace of your country, they would intimidate you. But they were wrong. They were deceiving themselves!

Today we can stand before you as the representative of a democratic country, and say, on behalf of the people of South Africa; Thank you for what you did for our country during the long and lonely years of struggle.

Despite the pressures from the apartheid regime, you stood defiantly on the side of freedom, peace and democracy. You made our struggle your struggle. Today we can celebrate our victory together.

The liberation of South Africa has opened a new era, def can now address the legacy of apartheid and destabilisation, and attend to the socio-economic needs of all our peoples.

We are free to contribute to the reconstruction and development of our whole region. Free to join hands as equal partners with our neighbours to bring peace and prosperity to our peoples.

In doing so we will be making a living reality of the vision that moved that great son of Serowe and Botswana, Kgosi Seretse Khama, when he became the founding chairman of the Southern African Development Co-ordinating Council (SADCC).

Brothers and sisters;

Botswana has a proud history as a successful democratic country and as a model of economic success. Democratic South Africa is eager for close relations with Botswana. We have a lot to learn from you.

With the planting of a tree today, our prayers will be that this tree will remain a symbol of growing co-operation that will bind our two countries together in years to come.

As a tree will blossom only with care and attention, so our countries and our region will blossom and grow from strength to strength, if we care and work hard. As this tree reaches for the heavens, let it encourage us always to aim higher and higher in meeting the new challenges which face us. As its branches spread, so may the co-operation between us spread out and embrace our whole region and our continent of Africa.

For South Africa, co-operative relations with our neighbours on the basis of a partnership of equals have the highest priority. This is because we know that the reconstruction and development of our own country depends on development throughout our region. No country in our region will achieve prosperity unless we all do.

Dear friends;

Allow me in conclusion to thank you for this the opportunity to attend the kgotla, for your hospitality and warm welcome.

May the peace which freedom has brought endure for ever.

Kgotso! Pula!

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation