Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in honour of President Rawlings of Ghana

9 July 1998

We have met previously on South African soil when you have passed through our country, Mr President. But the first state visit by a Ghanaian Head of State to South Africa is a historic occasion, and it is indeed an honour for me to be the one to welcome you.

Your State Visit comes four years into South Africa's new democracy, as we stand on the brink of a new election. Achieving democracy was only possible with the support of friends like Ghana, who supported our struggle for freedom, democracy and dignity as their own.

The history of South Africa's struggle; our current-day thinking and even our plans for the future have many links with Ghana. On gaining its own independence, Ghana provided much strength and great inspiration to the liberation movements of Africa. We were deeply inspired by the ideas emanating from Ghana, through the person of that noble visionary, Kwame Nkrumah. His efforts to eliminate colonialism and oppression; to unite Africa and to advance education and technology still bear fruit today. How proud he would have been to know that with South Africa's liberation, our entire continent achieved its freedom.

As we stand on the threshold of a new African era characterised by democracy, sustainable economic development and a re-awakening of our rich cultural values and heritage, African unity remains our watchword and the Organisation of African Unity our guide. As we seek to impress upon the world's financial institutions the necessity of lifting the debt burden that impedes Africa's efforts to uplift the poorest of the poor, the need to speak with one continental voice is as great as ever.

Your name, too, Mr President, is held in high esteem in South Africa, as is that of Ghana. Your presidency has been dedicated to economic recovery, and to international peace-keeping. Ghana has made a major impact on regional initiatives, most notably in the Ecomog operation to restore peace to the troubled Liberia. Ghana has remained an island of political and economic stability. She has been at the forefront of efforts to build an African peace-keeping capacity.

On the economic front, your Economic Recovery Programme and the establishment of multi-party democracy has rekindled interest in Ghana's vast potential.

Mr President,

In the few short years since South Africa gained democracy, great strides have been made to normalise our relations with the rest of the world, and in Africa in particular.

Central to our strategy for reconstruction and development is the strengthening of economic ties with other African countries. While trade has blossomed between our two countries since democracy arrived, the trade balance, we are aware, remains heavily balanced in our favour.

We were therefore happy to learn that co-operation between South African companies and Ghana is on the increase, especially in the gold mining and brewing sectors. The recent visit to your country by our Minister of Trade and Industry, with a large trade and investment mission, will do much to further improve trade relations and achieve a better balance.

We are aware that the investment potential of Ghana is high on your agenda. We will continue to encourage our business community to invest in Africa. And as we expect of foreign investors in our own country, we expect South African business to ensure that its investments in Ghana bring lasting benefits through the transfer of skills and technology.

There is no doubt that your visit here, with your powerful delegation, will strengthen and expand relations between our two countries, and between SADC and the Economic Community of West African States.

We hope that you will take advantage of our hospitality and return soon.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Will you join me now in proposing a toast to the good health and prosperity of President Rawlings and to the long friendship between the people of South Africa and the people of the Republic of Ghana.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation