The Presidential Years

Return to 1.2 The challenge

I have appeared at many meetings outside this Chamber and there is a point I have repeatedly made at such meetings. Since some of my colleagues and other hon members in this gathering do not want to attend my meetings, I must take advantage of this opportunity to repeat it.


All over the world and right down the ages men and women have come and gone. Some leave nothing behind, not even their names. It would appear that they never existed at all. Others do leave something behind. They leave the haunting memory of the evil deeds they committed against other human beings, their fellow-citizens-theft, robbery and all kinds of violations of human dignity such as torture and assassination, in order to prevent them from shaping their own destiny.

Whenever we think of such men and women, even at the height of their glory, feelings of revulsion, hatred and bitterness well up in our hearts.

Whatever external manifestations of power they have chosen--expensive cars or beautiful buildings- they become the scum of society, rats despised by everyone committed to truth and justice. They become notorious and infamous.

There is a third category of men and women emerging all over the world. It embraces men and women who have chosen the world as the theatre of their operations and who take up the question of the suppression of human rights wherever it occurs. We are the beneficiaries of such men and women. They want to make every human being feel that life is worth living and who want to put sunshine in the lives of the poorest of the poor.

They are our champions. They are our heroes and heroines. They are the hope of the world. They are the hope of South Africa.

They are the men and women whose work and fame go far beyond the borders of their countries.

They are the men and women who, when their last day comes, will hear all of us say with a full heart: here lies a man or woman who has done his or her duty to country and people. They become immortal.

What has encouraged me during this debate is that I have seen that there are those women and men in this Chamber whose works and efforts are known beyond our borders, and who are also worthy candidates to immortality.


Return to 1.2 The challenge