Address by President Nelson Mandela at the African Renaissance Festival, Durban

27 March 1999

Master of Ceremonies;
Cabinet Ministers and Members of Provincial Executives;

It gives me a sense of personal renewal to share in these African Renaissance celebrations. Too often we converge to discuss our differences, or to organise against one other. Today we celebrate what we share and we affirm our community of interests.

The presence of our American friends bears witness to the fact that the renewal of our continent is a dream that we have shared for generations.

We have drawn from the deep well of the Afro-American struggle for equality. The dream which Martin Luther King dreamed is also ours. We are therefore heartened that Corretta King is with us tonight as we celebrate our African destiny, as she was with us on that night five years ago when the votes of South Africans in their millions allowed us to proclaim that we too were free at last.

We take this opportunity to thank you, as we can never do too often, our friends indeed and friends in need, for your support in our struggle for freedom. Tonight, we celebrate your solidarity. We are proud that you who gave us hope, today find hope in a country rising from the ashes of apartheid and a continent being reborn.

In our celebrations we pay homage to the fallen heroes and heroines who walked the soil of this province, who fought and died in pursuit of freedom for all. We pay tribute to iNkosi yasOndini, uMagwegwana ngoba ugwegwe abakayise, iSilo uCetshwayo; Bishop Colenso, uSobantu; Dr John Langalibalele Dube, uMafukuzela; Chief Albert Lutuli; Mahatma Ghandi and M.P. Naicker.

We pay tribute to our people in their millions, who in their magnificent diversity rose as one to defeat the inhuman system of apartheid.


The African Renaissance campaign is also a call to action, to bring about that regeneration of our continent and its countries which liberation has made possible.

Four South Africans it is a call to continue the fight for a better life for all. It is a call to join hands against crime, corruption and AIDS; a call to create jobs, to house those who are still homeless; to bring the sweet taste of clean water to more of our rural people beyond the three million who have gained access to it in the first years of our freedom; to bring communications and light to millions more.

It is also a call to destroy political violence once and for all, and especially in KwaZulu-Natal. It does no credit to a country that is seen by the world as having valuable experience in the peaceful resolution of conflicts, that there are still areas of political violence in our own South Africa.

To bring lasting peace is the fundamental task for all people of goodwill in this province. It is my firm belief that there are sufficient such people within the ANC and IFP to achieve this prize.

I use this opportunity to call upon the leadership of this province to leave no stone unturned in the search for peace, especially as we approach our second democratic elections. For its part, government is resolved that those who refuse to break from their violent past, shall feel the might of the law.

Reconstruction brings even greater challenges than defeating apartheid. Out of the destructive divisions of the past we must build a new nation, united in its diversity, and which affirms the human dignity of every woman, man and child. From the degradation of racial discrimination and domination we are making a society in which all have the right to self-development and equality of opportunity.

To achieve these goals we must also mend the moral fabric of our society, corroded and torn by the inhumanity of apartheid. We must restore respect for human life, for one another and for the dignity of all.

Along with peace, partnership is one of our most powerful weapons in this renewal. What gives me great joy is the knowledge that throughout our country, including this province of KwaZulu-Natal, people from every background and community, from every party and walk of life, are increasingly joining hands in recognition of the fact that we are one nation with one destiny.

In the actions of business leaders who are sharing their resources with disadvantaged communities; in the initiative of our trade union federations and organised business to join with government in mobilising funds for job-creation; in the national partnership against AIDS; in the partnership of communities, police and business, including farmers, to fight crime - in all these initiatives we see the practical workings of the New Patriotism that is taking root as we together overcome the legacy of our past.

As we work with one another to rebuild our country, so we join hands with our neighbours and the peoples of Africa to work for development and peace; for democracy and human rights. Whatever happens in any one country has an impact on all of us. None of us can enjoy lasting peace and security while millions of our compatriots live in poverty. No country can enjoy sustained growth and development while any of its neighbours are troubled by conflict and instability.

That is as true of our continent as it is of our nation. And it is true of a world which is still divided between rich and poor, developed and developing nations.

As we celebrate the rebirth of Africa, let us join hands as citizens of the world, united for democracy, peace and prosperity.

Afrika, Mayibuye! Mayibuye, iAfrika!

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website