Message by Nelson Mandela at Healing & Reconciliation Service dedicated to HIV/Aids sufferers & "The Healing of our Land", Johannesburg

6 December 2000

To be here today in the company of two fellow Nobel Peace Laureates from this relatively small country on the southern tip of the African continent, and remembering that we three come in the footsteps of an even earlier compatriot Laureate, cannot but move us to humility and profound appreciation of the depth of human compassion our country has been blessed with.

By all calculations and rational predictions we should have annihilated each other in this once most deeply racially divided society. Yet the will to have peace rather than destructive war, reconciliation rather that devouring hatred and division, prevailed in the end.

It is into that same deep well of human compassion that we now dig as we face the even more devastating danger of HIV/AIDS. We think today of those suffering directly from HIV/AIDS as well as those affected by their suffering. As we could reach out across the great divides of our racial and political past to jointly build a future for ourselves and our children, we now reach out to one another across the distinction of health and ill-health.

We are together in this. Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronisingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.

We shall work together as a nation, work hard and with dedication, to achieve another miracle: this time of winning the battle against AIDS. We have the depth of compassion to achieve that. We can heal our land.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation