23 years ago on the 10th of May, South Africa and the continent celebrated the swearing in of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in Pretoria as the first democratic President of South Africa. Mandela’s inauguration followed the historic first multiracial national democratic elections held the previous month where about 22 million South Africans turned out to vote propelling the African National Congress (ANC) into power.
The main declaration by Mandela at his inauguration was “the time for the healing of the wounds has come.” We bring you a selection of quotes which defined Mandela’s legacy.
1. “I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.” First day of his release, Cape Town (11 February 1990).
2. “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Defence statement during the Rivonia Trial, 1964.
3. “I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists. I tell them that I was also a terrorist yesterday, but, today, I am admired by the very people who said I was one.” – Larry King Live, 16 May 2000.
4. “Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.” – From an interview for the documentary Mandela, 1994.
5. I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended. – Long Walk to Freedom
6. Today we are entering a new era for our country and its people. Today we celebrate not the victory of a party, but a victory for all the people of South Africa. – Nelson Mandela – Inaugural speech, 1994
7. The names of those who were incarcerated on Robben Island is a roll call of resistance fighters and democrats spanning over three centuries. If indeed this is a Cape of Good Hope, that hope owes much to the spirit of that legion of fighters and others of their calibre. – Inaugural Speech, 1994.
8. You sharpen your ideas by reducing yourself to the level of the people you are with and a sense of humour and a complete relaxation, even when you’re discussing serious things, does help to mobilise friends around you. And I love that.” – From an interview with Tim Couzens, Verne Harris and Mac Maharaj for Mandela: The Authorised Portrait , 2006, 13 August 2005.