This message, from the leaders in Pollsmoor and Robben Island prisons, and signed on their behalf by Nelson Mandela, was read to the Conference and later presented to a press conference in Lusaka on 25 June 1985 by the President of the ANC, Oliver Tambo.
We were most delighted to hear that the ANC will soon have another Conference. We sincerely hope that such an occasion will constitute yet another milestone in our history. It is most satisfying, especially in our present position, to belong to a tested organisation which exercises so formidable an impact on the situation in our country, which as established itself firmly as the standard bearer of such a rich tradition, and which has brought us such coveted laurels.
As you know, we always try to harmonise our own views and responses with those of the movement at large. For this reason, we find it rewarding indeed to know that, despite the immense distance and the years which separate us, as well as the lack of effective communication channel, we still remain a closely knit organisation, ever conscious of the crucial importance of unity, and of resisting every attempt to divide and confuse.
We feel sure that all those delegates who will attend will go there with one central issue uppermost in their minds: that out of the Conference the ANC will emerge far stronger than ever before. Unity is the rock on which the African National Congress was founded;it is the principle which has guided us down the years as we feel our way forward.
In the course of its history, the ANC has survived countless storms and risen to eminence partly because of the sterling qualities of its membership, and partly because each member has regarded himself or herself as the principal guardian of that unity. All discussions, contributions and criticism have generally been balanced and constructive and, above all, they have been invariably subjected to the over-riding principle of maximum unity. To lose sight of this basic principle is to sell our birthright, to betray those who paid the highest price so that the ANC should flourish and triumph.
In this connection, the positions taken by Oliver Tambo on various issues and also stressed by Joe Slovo inspired us tremendously. Both drew attention to vital issues which, in our opinion, are very timely. They must be highlighted and kept consciously in mind as we try to sort out the complicated problems which face the movement, and as we try to hammer out the guidelines for future progress.
These remarks are the clearest expression of that enduring identity of approach of members of the movement wherever they may be, and a summary of achievements of which we are justly proud. In particular, we fully share the view that the ANC has raised mass political consciousness to a scale unknown in our experience. It is in this spirit that we send you our greetings and best wishes. We hold hands firmly across the miles.