Address by President Nelson Mandela on receiving De Guilden Ere Medaille of Amsterdam (The Golden Medal of the City of Amsterdam)

10 March 1999

Mr Mayor
Ladies and Gentlemen

I feel most honoured by your warm reception and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We knew, of course, that to return to Amsterdam would be to return to a city where the people of South Africa have many friends.

No-one could forget the tumultuous welcome Amsterdam gave us in 1990 soon after the people of South Africa and the international community had together opened the doors of apartheid's prisons.

The Netherlands had to be one of the first countries we visited. How could it have been otherwise? Amsterdam was one of the strongest anti-apartheid cities in the world.

That hour stands as a moment of rebirth, when the warmth of international fellowship and love transformed itself from solidarity in struggle into partnership for peace and development.

Mr Mayor

It is with pride that I receive the Golden Medal of the City of Amsterdam, as your tribute to all the people of South Africa, who have joined hands to make a reality of the hopes that your city shared with us through all those difficult years.

I am told that Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina allowed the City of Amsterdam to carry on its official seal the legend honouring its courageous behaviour under Nazi-occupation: "Heldhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig". I know of no words that better express our people's gratitude to yours for the resolute and compassionate support in their heroic struggle against apartheid.

How fortunate we are to have such friends.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation