Address by President Nelson Mandela on receiving the Collar of the Nile award by President Hosni Mubarak, Cairo - Egypt

21 October 1997

President Mubarak;
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour indeed to receive so high an award from a country with an ancient and distinguished history, from a people who stood with us in our struggle for freedom.

The achievements which you are celebrating through this award are not those of an individual, but of the whole South African nation, and I humbly accept it in their name.

We are also overwhelmed by the warm welcome we have received. Through this is our first official visit to Egypt, our countries and our peoples are no strangers to each other.

Indeed, it is no accident that Africa's greatest city has been a port of call at each stage of our long journey to freedom.

I first visited Cairo in 1962 as a freedom fighter when we embarked on our armed struggle.

I came again in 1990 when the people of South Africa, together with freedom - loving peoples across the world, had opened the prisons of apartheid. We came then to say that the people of South Africa would never forget the support of the Egyptian Government and people - and today once again we thank you from the bottom of our heart.

Now I have come from the southern tip of Africa to its very north as our country's first democratically elected head of state. We have come to add further strength to the partnership for peace and prosperity between two countries that were once allies in struggle.

It is in recognition of President Mubarak's personal contribution to this friendship between our peoples that South Africa is conferring on him the highest award with which our country can honour citizens of other countries.

President Mubarak continued the tradition of active participation in the struggle to end colonialism and to secure the rights of the peoples of Africa, including South Africa.

And then under his leadership Egypt became a firm and valued partner as we sought to entrench democracy and pursue our goals of reconstruction and development.

In a short time relations between our countries have grown rapidly. The establishment of a Joint Commission and the progress it has made is ample proof of our joint determination to realise the immense potential for fruitful co-operation.

We are confident that whether it be in the field of bilateral relations; the affairs of our continent; or still further afield, President Mubarak's government will continue to be a force for co-operation between our peoples, that Egypt and South Africa are entering the new millennium in a partnership for peace, prosperity and a more equitable world.

It is in this spirit, and as a sign of respect and appreciation by the people and government of South Africa, that I have the honour of investing President Hosni Mubarak of the Arab Republic of Egypt with the Order of Good Hope.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website