Address by President Nelson Mandela at the State banquet hosted by President Konare of Mali

2 March 1996

Your Excellency;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen.

It is indeed a great honour to be here in Mali today. Our desire to join hands across the equator with our brothers and sisters in West Africa is made stronger still by the warmth and hospitality with which we have been received in your country. Nor will we ever forget Mali's contribution to our progress and transition to a democratic society.

Liberation has brought with it the possibility of normal and peaceful links between our countries. It was a great pleasure to welcome the establishment of an Embassy of the Republic of Mali in our country and we look forward to the accreditation of a South African ambassador to Mali in the near future.

Although our countries are geographically distant, they are bound by a common African heritage and destiny. We have the common experience as new democracies of the urgent challenge of uplifting the lives of our peoples. We share a commitment to the establishment and development of democratic societies based upon respect for human rights and the economic and social welfare of humanity.

These are crucial elements of the framework for the peace and stability so essential to the renewal of Africa. In this regard I would like to take the opportunity to express our very good wishes for the continued success of the Economic Community of West African States. Regional co-operation of that nature is of the greatest importance to our continent's future.

In our own context, South Africa remains firmly committed to regional development and progress through the Southern Africa Development Community; and to continental co-operation and diplomacy through the Organisation of African Unity.

It is these commitments which led us recently to offer a financial contribution, through the United Nations, toward peacekeeping initiatives in Africa. Our efforts in these directions are guided by an abiding respect for the self-determination and sovereignty of our fellow Africans and our other international partners.

If we attach importance to our efforts to achieve peace and stability, it is because unity of purpose must be our guide if Africa is to lift itself out of the quagmire of poverty and dependence. Co-operation which builds on our complementary strengths will bring benefit to the peoples of our countries and of our continent.

I therefore welcome the opportunity which this visit provides to strengthen all-rounds relations between Mali and South Africa and in particular to promote the development of trade and investment.

Ladies and gentlemen;

I am deeply moved and appreciative of the high honour you have bestowed upon me today. I shall wear the Grande Croix with humility and pride, as a symbol of the solidarity and friendship that I have felt in your country.

The Order of Good Hope which we are tonight presenting to President Konare carries with it the regard of the people of South Africa for the leader of a country which has contributed so selfessly to our freedom.

May I ask you all to raise your glasses and drink to President Alpha Oumar Konare and the people of Mali; and to the strengthening of all-round ties between our two countries.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation