The Presidential Years

So when Mandela spoke as President of democratic South Africa to the OAU Summit a month after his inauguration, it was a moment of great excitement, filled with emotions of fulfilment and promise. His address, a carefully crafted articulation of his country’s nascent ‘Africa policy’, set out South Africa’s view of its commitments and responsibilities towards the continent.

The total liberation of Africa from foreign and white minority rule has now been achieved. Our colleagues who have served with distinction on the OAU liberation committee have already carried out the historical task of winding up this institution, which we shall always remember as a frontline fighter for the emancipation of the peoples of our continent.

Finally, at this summit meeting in Tunis, we shall remove from our agenda the consideration of the question of Apartheid South Africa.
Where South Africa appears on the agenda again, let it be because we want to discuss what its contribution shall be to the making of the new African renaissance. ...

One epoch with its historic tasks has come to an end. Surely, another must commence with its own challenges. Africa cries out for a new birth. ...

If freedom was the crown which the fighters of liberation sought to place on the head of mother Africa, let the upliftment, the happiness, prosperity and comfort of her children be the jewel of the crown.

There can be no dispute among us that we must bend every effort to rebuild the African economies. ...

The fundamentals of what needs to be done are known to all of us. Not least among these are the need to address the reality that Africa continues to be a net exporter of capital and suffers from deteriorating terms of trade. Our capacity to be self-reliant, to find the internal resources to generate sustained development, remains very limited.

… [The nature and quality of governance] are central to our capacity to produce the better life which our peoples demand and deserve. In this regard, we surely must face the matter squarely that where there is something wrong in the manner in which we govern ourselves, it must be said that the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are ill-governed.

Tribute is due to the great thinkers of our continent who have been and are trying to move all of us to understand the intimate inter-connection between the great issues of our days of peace, stability, democracy, human rights, co-operation and development.

… Rwanda stands out as a stern and severe rebuke to all of us for having failed to address these interrelated matters. As a result of that, a terrible slaughter of the innocent has taken and is taking place in front of our very eyes.

Thus do we give reason to the peoples of the world to say of Africa that she will never know stability and peace, that she will never experience development and growth, that her children will forever be condemned to poverty and dehumanisation and that we shall for ever be knocking on somebody's door pleading for a slice of bread.

We know it as a matter of fact that we have it in ourselves as Africans to change all this. We must, in action, assert our will to do so. We must, in action, say that there is no obstacle big enough to stop us from bringing about a new African renaissance.

We are happy to commit South Africa to the achievement of these goals. We have... re-joined the African community of nations inspired by the desire to join hands with all the countries of our continent as equal partners.

It will never happen again that our country should seek to dominate another through force of arms, economic might or subversion. We are determined to remain true to the vision which you held out for South Africa as you joined the offensive to destroy the system of apartheid.

… We all prayed and sacrificed to bring about a South Africa that we could hold out as a true example of democracy, equality and justice for all, which the apartheid system was constructed and intended to deny.

The vision you shared with us was one in which we would use the resources of our country to create a society in which all our people would be emancipated from the scourges of poverty, disease, ignorance and backwardness.

The objective we all pursued was the creation of a South Africa that would be a good neighbour and an equal partner with all the countries of our continent, one which would use its abilities and potentialities to help advance the common struggle to secure Africa's rightful place within the world economic and political system.612