Closing remarks by Nelson Mandela at dinner with artists participating in the first 46664 Concert, Cape Town

27 November 2003

You have had a wonderful evening of dining and entertainment and I am sure you do not want it spoilt by tired  speeches here at the end of the evening.

Allow me therefore to very briefly say a word of thanks to all who made this evening possible and  made it such a  wonderful occasion.

It is not everyday that I have the opportunity to dine in the company of such famous stars and luminaries as I did this evening. I am now an old man, retired and without office, influence or power. I must wait for occasions like these to be organised to enjoy that privilege again. And you can imagine how much I appreciate it. Thank you very much for allowing me to share your company.

We in South Africa fought a noble struggle against the evil of apartheid and triumphed in the end, creating a non-racial democracy in which all of our people can live in dignity.

Today as we reconstruct and develop our country we find ourselves faced by an even greater enemy and threat, this time in the form of HIV/AIDS. This pandemic threatens our future in ways and on a scale that we could not have imagined.

We are called to join the war against HIV/AIDS with the same, and even greater, resolve that we did in the fight against apartheid. We have to mobilise all of our people, all sectors of society, all our resources and energies.

In the anti-apartheid struggle we referred to the four pillars of our struggle: mass mobilisation, the underground, armed struggle and international solidarity. We must find effective equivalents of each of these in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. The presence of so many international artists and celebrities here tonight and on Saturday demonstrates that the international solidarity remains in our war against the pandemic.

Thank you very much.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation