Nelson Mandela - Inaugural Address
May 10, 1994
"Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, distinguished Guests, Comrades and
Today, all of us do, by our presence here, and by our celebrations in other parts of our country and the world,
confer glory and hope to newborn liberty. Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too
long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.
Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must
produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence
in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.
All this we owe both to ourselves and to the peoples of the world who are so well represented here today. To my
compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this
beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld. Each time one
of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal. The national mood changes as the seasons
We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom.
That spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains the depth of the pain we all
carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as we saw it spurned,
outlawed and isolated by the peoples of the world, precisely because it has become the universal base of the
pernicious ideology and practice of racism and racial oppression.
We, the people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its bosom, that we, who were
outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own
We thank all our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our
country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity.
We trust that you will continue to stand by us as we tackle the challenges of building peace, prosperity,
non-sexism, non-racialism and democracy.
We deeply appreciate the role that the masses of our people and their political mass democratic, religious, women,
youth, business, traditional and other leaders have played to bring about this conclusion. Not least among them is
my Second Deputy President, the Honourable F.W. de Klerk.
We would also like to pay tribute to our security forces, in all their ranks, for the distinguished role they have
played in securing our first democratic elections and the transition to democracy, from blood-thirsty forces which
still refuse to see the light.
The time for the healing of the wounds has come.
The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.
The time to build is upon us.
We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the
continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination. We succeeded to take our
last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just
and lasting peace. We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We
enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be
able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a
rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.
As a token of its commitment to the renewal of our country, the new Interim Government of National Unity will, as a
matter of urgency, address the issue of amnesty for various categories of our people who are currently serving
terms of imprisonment.
We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in
many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free. Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their
We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on
us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out
of the valley of darkness.
We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom. We know it well that none of us acting alone can
achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation
building, for the birth of a new world.
Let there be justice for all.
Let there be peace for all.
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves. Never, never and
never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer
the indignity of being the skunk of the world.
Let freedom reign.
The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!
God bless Africa!"