Address by President Nelson Mandela at reception hosted by President Clinton - United States

22 September 1998

President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton;
Rev Bernice King;
Distinguished Guests,

No visit to the United States by a representative of the South African people would be complete without an opportunity to meet with those who are gathered here tonight.

For us, probably on our last official visit to your country, it has special meaning, and I most sincerely thank our hosts for making it possible.

More than friends, we are amongst those on whom history has visited the same pains and deprivations; and who have shared our victories.

The founders of our liberation movement drew deep inspiration at the turn of the century from black American's striving under difficult circumstances to fulfil our common aspiration for the restoration of human dignity.

It is small wonder that the struggle to end apartheid drew such strength from here, or that we now look to you to work with us as we seek to banish poverty, hunger, illiteracy and ignorance from our land.

Mr President, by embodying your identification with these shared aspirations in the programme of your administration, you have won for yourself a warm place in the heart of the South African people, as you witnessed on your visit to our country earlier this year.

We know that we have your understanding as we seek with the countries of the South to shift the world economic system towards the needs of the poor and the weak.

We are aware of the national debate that is taking place in this country about the President, and it is not our business to interfere in this matter.

But we do wish to say that President Clinton is a friend of South Africa and of Africa and I believe the friend of the great mass of black people of the United States. Few leaders of the United States have such a feeling for the position of black people.

We have often said that our morality does not allow us to desert our friends, and we would want to say tonight: we are thinking of you in this difficult and distressing time in your life.


For us, above all the coming century must be the African century. Together we have long dreamt of the African Renaissance, whose time has come.

It is a joy to be today with men and women whom we know will be our partners in that glorious rebirth.

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website