Statement of the Deputy President of the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela, at the Prime Minister’s dinner Hotel de Matigon, Paris, 7 June 1990
Mr Prime Minister and Madame Rocard;
Esteemed members of the government of France;
Distinguished guests and dear friends:
I stand up to thank the prime minister, Michel Rocard and Madame Rocard for the truly warm welcome they have extended to me, my wife and the rest of our delegation. We thank you also for the kind things you have said about us.
This is our last engagement during our visit to France which has proved to be much too short. It is clear that we shall have to return at some later date, if you will have us. If time permitted, it would have been so good to see more of Paris and more of France and more of her citizens, who have been such good friends of our struggling people.
But, Mr Prime Minister, we leave with our hearts filled with joy that we could meet and talk with people whom we have only known by reputation, including the distinguished families of Francois and Danielle Mitterrand, as well as yours. We depart strengthened because we know that you will stand side by side with us until our common struggle to end apartheid and transform South Africa into a non-racial democracy is victorious.
When next you speak to the French people, Mr Prime Minister, please convey to them our love. Please tell them that when the apartheid system has become a thing of the past, we should use the bonds of friendship cemented during the course of the struggle to build a system of cooperation between our two countries which would contribute to peace in the world, brotherhood among the peoples, freedom and prosperity for all.
Please tell them also not to forget the family ties that bring us together. The blood of the Huguenots who came to our country in the 17th century courses through the veins of many of our people, both Black and White. The culture they brought is part of what constitutes the common South African identity.
Our human universe is today going through a process of restructuring of enormous historic significance. Our country is also a participant in that process. It must surely be our hope and conviction that when the waves have calmed down, there will emerge visible a South Africa and a Southern Africa in which liberty , equality, fraternity, prosperity and peace would reign supreme.
With your assistance and support, we will achieve this goal sooner rather than later.
We would be greatly honoured if our all too brief visit to France contributed even a little to the reinforcement of our common resolve to act together for an end to racism here, in our own country and elsewhere in the world, and if our all too brief visit to Paris strengthened our shared capacity to make the world a safe and happy place for all the children of our planet.
Thank you and farewell.