Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in his honour hosted by Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Copenhagen

15 March 1999

Your Majesty;
Your Royal Highnesses;
Ladies and Gentlemen!

You will know, Your Majesty, from your visit to South Africa three years ago, how warmly our people feel towards the Danes, as a people who have shared our pain, our hopes and our triumph over injustice. Your Majesty's kind words of welcome to myself, my wife and our delegation make us feel that we too have a home away from home, here in Denmark.

Our visit brings us an opportunity to say what we have said before, but cannot say too often.

It is that South Africans will never forget the selfless efforts of the Danish people, over many years, to share our struggle to free South Africa from the inhuman system of apartheid.

Your Majesty, Denmark has done you proud. Indeed, it has done the international community proud by responding so nobly to the declaration that fundamental human rights are the rights of all people everywhere.

Since our shared victory, Danish co-operation and support has brought the sweet taste of clean running water to many a child in South Africa. You have made it possible for many children to learn to read and write. Though Denmark is a small country, it has played a major role in the building of the new South Africa, and continues to do so.

Above all you have always respected our right to choose the path towards our goals. You never questioned our right to decide how our freedom should be attained. And today as we address the legacy of apartheid with your co-operation, we continue to enjoy your respect for our decisions.

In short, your support, like that of the all the Nordic countries, was never that of a distant benefactor, but that of a partner.

But perhaps I should add here that there are some South Africans who complain that this spirit of partnership was taken too far when it was extended to the football field during the World Cup tournament, to produce a draw rather than a victory for the team which they knew to be the best!

Your Majesty;

There is scarcely an area of importance to the building of a new and just society in South Africa that Denmark is not involved in.

You are our partners in the entrenchment of democracy; rural development; education; job-creation; and the development of business amongst those who were excluded by apartheid.

Denmark's part in the setting up of our Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been profound, and it would be right on this occasion to recognise the special contribution of Professor Carl Noorgaard.

Having benefited from the international community's commitment to human rights, democratic South Africa recognises its obligation to participate in the efforts to create a new international order that promotes the realisation of our shared vision of an equitable, peaceful and prosperous world.

We are encouraged in this by having in Denmark both a trusted partner and an example. As an industrialised country that is extensively involved in the efforts of the developing world to overcome poverty, Denmark, we know, appreciates the need to reshape the institutions which regulate the international political and economic systems, in accordance with the principles of equity and democracy.

Your Majesty, it is as the countries of the North and South join hands across the divisions and the imbalances that history has left us, as we give concrete meaning to the ideals which we share, that I and others across the world who have dedicated their lives to the striving for a better world for all, would be able to retire with contentment and personal peace.

I firmly believe that the relationship which our countries and our peoples have forged, will help make a reality of those hopes.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you all to join me in a toast to her Majesty Queen Margrethe and the people of Denmark; and to the flourishing of friendship between our peoples.

Source: South African Government Information Website