Address by President Nelson Mandela at luncheon before receiving the Freedom of Howick

12 December 1996

Your Worship, Mayor Dlamini; Councillors; Members of the Provincial and National legislatures; Distinguished guests; Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you can well imagine, my visit to Tweedie this morning has stirred up many memories of a very different period in our country's history.

Revisiting the scene of my arrest makes me feel a little impatient to be given the Freedom of Howick later this afternoon, and I hope you will understand if my comments look to the future rather than the past.

Not that we should deny our past. Gaining a shared account of our divided past is part of the process of building our new nation. Howick, like any other part of our country, has its burden of memories which still haunt its people. Dealing with them through the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission and in other ways will strengthen us for the future.

What is encouraging about this town is that, in spite of the pain and suffering it has endured, it has been able to look to the future in order to help resolve conflicts which could have had a profoundly destructive effect on the whole region.

I draw great hope from the decision of the Howick Town Council to make me an honorary citizen of Howick.

This tribute to the achievements of our Rainbow Nation expresses the council's commitment to the vision which is now enshrined on our country's constitution.

The representatives here today from civic organisations; NGOs; trade unions, organised business and many other organisations of civil society, make it clear that the council does indeed represent the people of Howick in making this commitment.

The presence of Councillors from so many other councils and of provincial political leaders gives great assurance and hope.

The peaceful character of the local government elections in KwaZulu/Natal in June confounded the prophets of doom, who had falsely labelled this province as hopelessly addicted to violence.

But it did leave us with an important challenge, in the political dividing line which is drew in much of the province between town and country. This area is no exception.

Development cannot be confined to urban or rural areas. Peace is ieving either of these goals, and sustaining them will be impossible if the political parties, and in particular the ANC and IFP, do not work together.

In working together in your councils, and in reaching out as widely as you are doing today, you are setting a shining example as political leaders.

Co-operation and tolerance will help remove the causes of tension and conflict which stand in the way of development. Peace creates the conditions which allow the best that is in our people to flourish, and releases the great potential that has been denied to us by our divided past.

I am deeply moved by your decision, and I look forward eagerly to the opportunity later today to meet the people whom you represent.

It builds confidence in the future of this town; this province and our rainbow nation.

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website