London, Monday 16 April 1990
Master of Ceremonies, Distinguished artists, Members of the International Reception Committee, Dear friends here and elsewhere in the world:
Our first simple and happy task is to say thank you. Thank you very much to you all. Thank you that you chose to care, because you could have decided otherwise. Thank you that you elected not to forget, because our fate could have been a passing concern.
We are here today because for almost three decades you sustained a campaign for the unconditional release of all South African political prisoners. We are here because you took the humane decision that you could not ignore the inhumanity represented by the apartheid system.
Even through the thickness of the prison walls at Robben Island, Pollsmoor, Victor Verster, Pretoria, Kroonstad, Diepkloof and elsewhere, we heard your voices demanding our freedom. During all the days we spent buried in the apartheid dungeons, we never lost our confidence in the certainty of our release and our victory over the apartheid system. This was because we knew that not even the hard-hearted men of Pretoria could withstand the enormous strength represented by the concerted effort of the peoples of South Africa and the rest of the world…
We thank you especially for what you did to mark our 70th birthday.
What you did then made it possible for us all to do what we are doing here today.
Dear friends, it will not be long now before we see the end of the apartheid system. The dreams of millions of people to see our country free and at peace will be realised sooner rather than later.
We are determined to ensure that our country is transformed from being the skunk of the world into an exemplary oasis of unrivalled and excellent race relations, democracy for all, a just peace and freedom from poverty and human degradation.
Let us continue to march forward together for the realisation of that glorious vision. It will be a proud day for all humanity when we are all able to say that the apartheid crime against humanity is no more.
Then shall we all converge on the cities, towns and villages of South Africa to celebrate that moment when by ending the system of white minority domination, humanity will have ensured that never again shall the scourge of racial tyranny raise its ugly head.
You will all be welcome to attend those historic victory celebrations.