Address by President Nelson Mandela on receiving the Freedom of the City and County of Cardiff, United Kingdom

16 June 1998

My Lord Mayor;
Leader of the Cardiff County Council;
The Right Honourable Secretary of State for Wales;
Ladies and gentlemen,

I know that in granting the Freedom of the City and County of Cardiff to me, you are affirming the historic relationship between the people of South Africa and Wales, a relationship that is based on a shared love of freedom. I humbly accept the honour in that spirit, on behalf of all South Africans.

When the call for the international isolation of apartheid went out to the world, the people of Wales responded magnificently.

The knowledge that local authorities all over Wales were banning apartheid products from canteens and schools; and that the universities, the Welsh Rugby Union, and the choirs had cut their links, was a great inspiration to us in our struggle. So too was the contribution of organised Welsh workers.

Action on such a scale could only flow from strong support by ordinary Welsh people on the ground. So we knew that the Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement spoke for a people who cared for our freedom as their own.

We appreciate the fact that in identifying with our aspirations you also provided scholarships for our exiled students; and collected books, equipment and medical aid for the ANC school in Tanzania. The funds you raised for voter education in 1994 were a practical contribution to a people about to taste democracy for the first time.

It is normally invidious to single out individuals. But today, 16 June, is the day on which we South Africans commemorate the contribution of our youth to the achievement of democracy, and rededicate ourselves to creating a just society.

So there is a certain satisfaction in acknowledging, if you so permit me, that there is one amongst us who is even older than I am and who has been a campaigner for democracy in South Africa since his youth. May the youth of today, when they have reached the age of 84 like Bert Pierce, also be able look back on a lifetime of struggle for justice.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In accepting your freedom, so graciously bestowed, I would like you to accept our heartfelt thanks on behalf of the people of South Africa for your solidarity.

Democracy has brought new and even greater challenges. In the four years of our freedom we have laid the foundation for a better life for all. But eradicating the legacy of apartheid and rebuilding our region will take many years. We need your continuing support and so we warmly welcome the transformation of the Anti-apartheid Movement to Action for Southern Africa.

Brief as our visit to Wales must be, I will be able to tell my people that in the people of Wales we have friends indeed, ready to join hands with us in building a better life for all.

Thanks you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website