NOBEL PRIZE 1993 FOR NELSON MANDELA
& FREDERIK WILLEM DE KLERK
Mandela's Nobel Prize Acceptance
Your Majesty the
Your Royal Highness,
Esteemed Members of the Norwegian Nobel
Honorable Prime Minister, Madame Gro Harlem
Brundtland, Ministers, Members of Parliament and
Ambassadors, Fellow Laureate, Mr. F.W. de Klerk,
Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Norwegian
Nobel Committee for elevating us to the status
of a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
I would also like to take this opportunity to
congratulate my compatriot and fellow laureate,
State President F.W. de Klerk, on his receipt of
this high honor.
Together, we join two distinguished South
Africans, the late Chief Albert Lutuli and His
Grace Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to whose seminal
contributions to the peaceful struggle against
the evil system of apartheid you paid
well-deserved tribute by awarding them the Nobel
It will not be presumptuous of us if we also
add, among our predecessors, the name of another
outstanding Nobel Peace Prize winner, the late
Rev Martin Luther King Jr.
He, too, grappled with and died in the effort to
make a contribution to the just solution of the
same great issues of the day which we have had
to face as South Africans.
We speak here of the challenge of the
dichotomies of war and peace, violence and
non-violence, racism and human dignity,
oppression and repression and liberty and human
rights, poverty and freedom from want.
We stand here today as nothing more than a
representative of the millions of our people who
dared to rise up against a social system whose
very essence is war, violence, racism,
oppression, repression and the impoverishment of
an entire people.
I am also here today as a representative of the
millions of people across the globe, the
anti-apartheid movement, the governments and
organizations that joined with us, not to fight
against South Africa as a country or any of its
peoples, but to oppose an inhuman system and sue
for a speedy end to the apartheid crime against
These countless human beings, both inside and
outside our country, had the nobility of spirit
to stand in the path of tyranny and injustice,
without seeking selfish gain. They recognized
that an injury to one is an injury to all and
therefore acted together in defense of justice
and a common human decency.
Because of their courage and persistence for
many years, we can, today, even set the dates
when all humanity will join together to
celebrate one of the outstanding human victories
of our century.
When that moment comes, we shall, together,
rejoice in a common victory over racism,
apartheid and white minority rule.
That triumph will finally bring to a close a
history of five hundred years of African
colonization that began with the establishment
of the Portuguese empire.
Thus, it will mark a great step forward in
history and also serve as a common pledge of the
peoples of the world to fight racism, wherever
it occurs and whatever guise it assumes.
At the southern tip of the continent of Africa,
a rich reward in the making, an invaluable gift
is in the preparation for those who suffered in
the name of all humanity when they sacrificed
everything - for liberty, peace, human dignity
and human fulfillment.
This reward will not be measured in money. Nor
can it be reckoned in the collective price of
the rare metals and precious stones that rest in
the bowels of the African soil we tread in the
footsteps of our ancestors.
It will and must be measured by the happiness
and welfare of the children, at once the most
vulnerable citizens in any society and the
greatest of our treasures.
The children must, at last, play in the open
veld, no longer tortured by the pangs of hunger
or ravaged by disease or threatened with the
scourge of ignorance, molestation and abuse, and
no longer required to engage in deeds whose
gravity exceeds the demands of their tender
In front of this distinguished audience, we
commit the new South Africa to the relentless
pursuit of the purposes defined in the World
Declaration on the Survival, Protection and
Development of Children.
The reward of which we have spoken will and must
also be measured by the happiness and welfare of
the mothers and fathers of these children, who
must walk the earth without fear of being
robbed, killed for political or material profit,
or spat upon because they are beggars.
They too must be relieved of the heavy burden of
despair which they carry in their hearts, born
of hunger, homelessness and unemployment.
The value of that gift to all who have suffered
will and must be measured by the happiness and
welfare of all the people of our country, who
will have torn down the inhuman walls that
These great masses will have turned their backs
on the grave insult to human dignity which
described some as masters and others as
servants, and transformed each into a predator
whose survival depended on the destruction of
The value of our shared reward will and must be
measured by the joyful peace which will triumph,
because the common humanity that bonds both
black and white into one human race, will have
said to each one of us that we shall all live
like the children of paradise.
Thus shall we live, because we will have created
a society which recognizes that all people are
born equal, with each entitled in equal measure
to life, liberty, prosperity, human rights and
Such a society should never allow again that
there should be prisoners of conscience nor that
any person's human right should be violated.
Neither should it ever happen that once more the
avenues to peaceful change are blocked by
usurpers who seek to take power away from the
people, in pursuit of their own, ignoble
In relation to these matters, we appeal to those
who govern Burma that they release our fellow
Nobel Peace Prize laureate,
Aung San Suu Kyi,
and engage her and those she represents in
serious dialogue, for the benefit of all the
people of Burma.
We pray that those who have the power to do so
will, without further delay, permit that she
uses her talents and energies for the greater
good of the people of her country and humanity
as a whole.
Far from the rough and tumble of the politics of
our own country. I would like to take this
opportunity to join the Norwegian Nobel
Committee and pay tribute to my joint laureate,
Mr. F.W. de Klerk.
He had the courage to admit that a terrible
wrong had been done to our country and people
through the imposition of the system of
He had the foresight to understand and accept
that all the people of South Africa must through
negotiations and as equal participants in the
process, together determine what they want to
make of their future.
But there are still some within our country who
wrongly believe they can make a contribution to
the cause of justice and peace by clinging to
the shibboleths that have been proved to spell
nothing but disaster.
It remains our hope that these, too, will be
blessed with sufficient reason to realize that
history will not be denied and that the new
society cannot be created by reproducing the
repugnant past, however refined or enticingly
We would also like to take advantage of this
occasion to pay tribute to the many formations
of the democratic movement of our country,
including the members of our Patriotic Front,
who have themselves played a central role in
bringing our country as close to the democratic
transformation as it is today.
We are happy that many representatives of these
formations, including people who have served or
are serving in the "homeland" structures, came
with us to Oslo. They too must share the
accolade which the Nobel Peace Prize confers.
We live with the hope that as she battles to
remake herself, South Africa, will be like a
microcosm of the new world that is striving to
This must be a world of democracy and respect
for human rights, a world freed from the horrors
of poverty, hunger, deprivation and ignorance,
relieved of the threat and the scourge of civil
wars and external aggression and unburdened of
the great tragedy of millions forced to become
The processes in which South Africa and Southern
Africa as a whole are engaged, beckon and urge
us all that we take this tide at the flood and
make of this region as a living example of what
all people of conscience would like the world to
We do not believe that this Nobel Peace Prize is
intended as a commendation for matters that have
happened and passed.
We hear the voices which say that it is an
appeal from all those, throughout the universe,
who sought an end to the system of apartheid.
We understand their call, that we devote what
remains of our lives to the use of our country's
unique and painful experience to demonstrate, in
practice, that the normal condition for human
existence is democracy, justice, peace,
non-racism, non-sexism, prosperity for
everybody, a healthy environment and equality
and solidarity among the peoples.
Moved by that appeal and inspired by the
eminence you have thrust upon us, we undertake
that we too will do what we can to contribute to
the renewal of our world so that none should, in
future, be described as the "wretched of the
Let it never be said by future generations that
indifference, cynicism or selfishness made us
fail to live up to the ideals of humanism which
the Nobel Peace Prize encapsulates.
Let the strivings of us all, prove Martin Luther
King Jr. to have been correct, when he said that
humanity can no longer be tragically bound to
the starless midnight of racism and war.
Let the efforts of us all, prove that he was not
a mere dreamer when he spoke of the beauty of
genuine brotherhood and peace being more
precious than diamonds or silver or gold.
Let a new age dawn!
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Human Rights in History.