Address by President Nelson Mandela on receiving freedom of the City of Edinburgh, Scotland

27 October 1997

Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

No greater honour can be given by any community or people than to share with others what is most precious to them - their freedom; their rights as citizens their own home town or city.

It is therefore a great privilege to receive the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh I do know that it is no individual achievement you are celebrating and that through me, you are paying tribute to the whole of South African nation; for their courage in struggle; and for their boldness in forsaking the conflicts of the past and uniting to work for a better life for all.

I am proud to accept the honour in their name, in all humility.

What makes your gesture so precious is the knowledge that the Council does speak for those it represents.

In the months preceding the Commonwealth Conference we were overwhelmed by invitations from various sectors of the city, including the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who extended such invitations I regret very much that pressing commitments and the rigours of our schedule kept us from accepting them, and also made it impossible for us today to have the full ceremony which would have been appropriate.

We are proud too to be honoured by men and women commitment to freedom as a universal right has been demonstrated by many years of support for the liberation of South and Southern Africa.

Without the support of the international community, including the people of cities like Edinburgh and regions like Lothian, our freedom would have been unthinkable. For your contribution, we thank you from the bottom of our heart.

Be assured that the South African people are making good use of the freedom you helped us win; that in these past three years we have laid the foundation for a better life; and that slowly but surely the lives of our people are changing for the better.

May I thank you once again, in their name, for the honour you are bestowing on us.

We will always cherish our association with the citizens of Edinburgh and the people of Scotland.

We face the future with confidence, knowing that we have friends tested in struggle and firm in their commitment to work with us for a better world.

Long may we be partners for peace and prosperity

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website