Message by Nelson Mandela to Bill Clinton on the Clinton Foundation

1 March 2004

Bill Clinton will be remembered in history as one of the great American Presidents. He brought to his term as leader of the most powerful nation in the world a rare intellect, graciousness and an open-mindedness that showed genuine respect for minorities domestically as well as on the broader international scene. No wonder that an African-American poet could describe him as America’s first black President and that people in the developing world looked on him as a friend and champion. It is not often that so much power sits so comfortably and smoothly with so much humility, decency and considerateness.

President Clinton was one of the greatest advocates Africa has ever had in the United States and now, after his retirement, he is devoting his considerable energy, intellect and influence to the global struggle against HIV/AIDS, again with a particular concern for Africa.

I shall always remember and frequently quote the words he spoke on his first tour of Africa as President of the United States when he said the question is not what can be done for Africa, but rather what can be done together with Africa. Those eloquently spoken words summed up his entire approach to Africa and indeed to the developing world.

It was a matter of great comfort and consolation to me when the very young Bill Clinton joined me in the ranks of retired and discarded former Presidents, now without office or power. I read that as another sign of loyalty and solidarity, with Bill refusing to let me feel alone in the wilderness of former Presidents. It did also create the opportunity for the two of us to continue co-operating on matters of mutual concern and interest.

The William J Clinton Presidential Foundation has become a much valued and respected partner of our own organization, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, particularly in the struggle against HIV/AIDS globally. We have been participating in joint projects and have lent our combined support to the fight against this grave threat to our common future.

I congratulate President Clinton on the initiative of establishing the Foundation and on the excellent work he has already done through it. The great work he has done as the President of the United States of America deserves to be continued and consolidated; the Clinton Presidential Foundation has already proven to be an excellent vehicle for achieving that.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation