Address by President Nelson Mandela at official banquet at the 12th Conference of Heads of State or Government of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, Durban

2 September 1998

Madame Speaker,
Your Majesties and Your Royal Highnesses;
Your Excellencies;
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great honour to welcome you all to tonight's festivities.

It is only right that we should take time off from our deliberations in order to celebrate a remarkable event.

I hope that after the many long hours of meetings on matters of the highest consequence, your will be reinvigorated by the refreshments provided and the dazzling display of South Africa's artists and the culture of a people whose rich diversity can now flourish thanks to your actions.

As you savour the food that has been prepared; as you sense the rhythm and the beauty of the music and the dance; as you recall your encounters with the people of the cosmopolitan city of Durban, you may be sure that it is with great pride that we offer these things to those to whom we owe so much.

This distinguished gathering represents for us the legion of fighters amongst the peoples of the world who insisted that their own freedom was incomplete as long as South Africa's people lacked their freedom. It speaks of the conscience of the international community which made it its mission to ensure that the rights proclaimed as universal should hold sway also in this Southern tip of Africa.

For me personally, in the last months of my public life, it is a special privilege to be part of this momentous conference, and to be with so many men and women who have made the world the theatre of their operations.

The world faces daunting problems at the end of a century which has at times awakened so much hope, and at others confronted us with previously unforeseen and unimagined pain and suffering.

We are therefore forewarned that the turn of a century and a new millennium will not by themselves guarantee that all our hopes will be realised. But our collective achievements in advancing the boundaries of political freedom gives us the daring to believe that we can raise to the still greater challenges of development that face us today.

Dear friends;

Tomorrow we return to the important purpose that has brought us all together, with confidence that we have the vision and the will to shape the new world order that will give reality to the hopes and aspirations of millions.

For now, let us take some well-earned pleasure. As we do so I would like, if I may, to thank his Worship the Mayor of Durban and the people of the city, for lending us their home and submitting to an invasion that is unprecedented even for one of the world's popular tourist destinations. You have done our country proud.

Ladies and gentlemen;

May we long be joined in a partnership to make the world a better place for all who live in it, and especially the poor.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website