Message by Nelson Mandela for the World Association of Newspapers Congress, Cape Town

3 June 2007

Good evening to you all.

I am disappointed that I could not be with you in person, as planned, because as all the South Africans among you will know, I like talking to newspaper people.

In fact when I was still President I particularly liked talking to editors in what you might describe as "robust exchanges"!

But I am old now and my bosses have become decidedly restrictive about my travel, so I could not make the journey to Cape Town after all.

Perhaps it is lucky, because I am told there are thousands of you and that might have been too much of a good thing, even for me!

I am sending this message so that all of you at the 60th Congress of the World Association of Newspapers, and the 14th Congress of the World Editors Forum, know that I am thinking of you and wishing you well in your deliberations.

This is of course the first time these august bodies have met in Africa.

I hope you are enjoying beautiful Cape Town, even though it is winter.

I hope you will tell people in all your countries to come and visit us in South Africa.

We are trying to build a proud and prosperous nation here, one that believes in expanding the frontiers of freedom for every human being on this planet.

We also believe in press freedom in this country, and have the Constitution to prove it.

I hope that your deliberations will be characterised by great wisdom.

We live in a global era of most serious challenges, and all of you - individually and collectively - wield tremendous power to influence matters for good or ill.

In my experience you are capable of both. Please concentrate on the former!

In wishing you a wonderful few days, and days that will help the world's fight for justice for all, this old pensioner must also tell you that he is still a newspaper man himself.

Not a day goes by when I don't read every newspaper I can lay my hands on, wherever I am.

Sometimes my staff will try to hide a paper from me if they think there is something in it that will upset me.

But as I have always said - newspapers allow us to hold a mirror up to ourselves, and we must be brave enough to look squarely at the reflections.

My friends, let your watchwords be: truth and freedom.

I thank you. Goodnight.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation