Address by President Nelson Mandela on being welcomed to the City of Westminster

9 July 1996

My Lord Mayor and citizens of the City of Westminster:

I thank you for your kind welcome as we begin our visit to your great city. Your warm words have helped ease us into an environment we have always revered. It has captured, in the lucid form of its delivery and the sincerity of its content, the bonds between South Africans and the British.

To be in the heart of this capital city is to be reminded of the great span of human history to which the people of Britain have contributed. South Africans have, for good reasons and bad, been part of that experience. In the long and complex relationship between our countries this thriving city has been both a symbol of democracy and the seat of colonial power. That once complex and difficult relationship has transmuted into one of close friendship thanks to the efforts of primarily of ordinary men and women in both our countries and further afield.

Nor could we let this occasion go by without recording our gratitude for the refuge and support which the people of this city afforded many South Africans during the dark days of apartheid. In equal measure, though for different historical reasons, many citizens of this city and your country as a whole, found refuge on the southern tip of the African continent, a South Africa that they decided to make their home.

Today we stand before you as proud citizens of a rainbow nation, come to find ways of turning a shared commitment to freedom into an alliance for development and reconstruction.

The ending of apartheid and the achievement of democracy in South Africa has opened many new avenues for strengthening the bonds between us, it is extremely encouraging to sense the tremendous fund of goodwill towards South Africa in London and the United Kingdom.

Our bilateral relations are at an all time high. Trade and investment relations, always extensive, are flourishing in the new climate. South Africans and Britons are visiting each other in ever-increasing numbers.

At a time when dramatic changes are re-shaping the globe, the close understanding that has developed between our countries will enable us to contribute to each other's concerns and interest, and jointly serve the larger cause of world peace and prosperity.

South Africa seeks constant expansion of its friendly and beneficial links with you.

The welcome we have received today from the City of Westminster gives us confidence that our visit here will take us still further in that direction.

I thank you!

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation