Address by President Nelson Mandela on being presented with his insignia as a Knight of the Order of St John

1 November 1996

Your Royal Highness, the Grand Prior;
Your Royal Highness, the Duchess of Gloucester;
Representatives of the Priory for South Africa of the Order of St. John
Distinguished guests,

I am deeply moved by today's ceremony. It sets the seal on an honour that is greatly treasured by myself and by the whole South African nation.

The distinction is multiplied many-fold by the fact that it is shared with a South African patriot of the stature of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Above all, the accolade and your kind actions today, speak of the warm and special bond of friendship between the peoples of Britain and South Africa. This relationship, now shorn of its historical complexities, is growing daily in strength as a partnership for peace and prosperity.

The Order of St. John is embedded in the life of our nation, as it is in countries across the world, through its sterling service in health-care. Its focus on primary care, especially amongst the poorest of the poor, and its capacity to tap the most generous and caring human impulses, gives it a special place in our hearts.

These are virtues that will stand us in good stead as we reconstruct our country.

So it is with sincere humility, and on behalf of our rainbow nation, that I take this opportunity to express my pride at becoming a Knight of the Order of the St. John

I am full of hope that this relationship will help bring better health for our people.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation