Address by Nelson Mandela at luncheon hosted by Richard Holdbrooke

May 2002

Well, let me welcome you all to a lunch that is not really mine. My good friend Richard Holbrooke was as always so generous as to want to assure me that he is glad to see me; so he is hosting this lunch for us.

But I am sure he would not mind if I for a moment usurp his position as host, and presume that I have the right to welcome you.

It is such a warm and pleasurable feeling to be here with all of you, that I have to take the opportunity to welcome you and to thank you for giving of your precious time to be with us this afternoon.

We often speak - and I did so too during various speeches on this trip - about the importance and value of partnerships in world and global affairs. What we do not stress or acknowledge often enough is how partnerships really start on the personal level of individual friendships and networks of friendship.

Almost each one of you here this afternoon is a friend in that personal and individual way. In various ways that friendship had manifested itself. And it lives most warmly in the knowledge that I can call on any of you at anytime to rally in support of some worthy cause somewhere in the world.

That support need not always be material, although your generosity in that regard has been way beyond the call of any duty. Your moral support for noble causes, your commitment to universal human solidarity: that is what distinguishes you as friends in the global struggle we wage to make the world a better place.

And it is for that I wish to thank you this afternoon.

To you I need not talk at length about the needs of the world, and particularly the poor and marginalised of this world. In so many respects, you all have led lives dedicated to contributing to the alleviation of the lot of the poor and the suffering.

One cannot but think particularly of Africa when addressing the issue of poverty and deprivation. The people of our continent bear the brunt of such suffering. The masses of people on our continent still suffer from abject poverty, illiteracy, preventable ill-health, shelterlessness, lack of clean water and adequate sanitation, joblessness and other forms of social deprivation.

The scourge of HIV/AIDS threatens our continent and particularly Sub-Saharan Africa as nothing has done for centuries. Our future as a sustainable region is literally at stake.

It is your joint concern for issues like those that inspires us with hope despite the severe challenges. It is that knowledge of personal partnerships of solidarity that helps us continue our work with confidence that we shall succeed.

Our Foundation, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, is in some way or the other known to all of you. It is the vehicle created, with the support also of people like yourself, to assist us in continuing to make a small contribution to the development of people, communities and societies in our country and on the continent.

Let me not keep you from your lunch, and further keep Richard from his rightful role as our host.

I just once more wish to thank all of you for your friendship, support and partnership. Together we can make a difference.

I thank you all.

Source: South African Government Information Website