Mandela, Nelson (1918 – 2013)

‘A younger generation…  guiding the country towards a secure and prosperous future’

An excellent typed letter signed by Nelson Mandela (‘N. Mandela’), on his personal letterhead, April 17th 2004. A lengthy letter to Dr. Ivan May.

In full: ‘There could have been no more appropriate way for South Africans to celebrate the first decade of democracy than going to the polls in this period. Nothing else symbolised the birth of our non-racial democracy so vividly as those wonderful election days in April 1994. The nation came together in the physical act of voting on those days; it is proper that we marked a decade in the life of democratic South Africa by once more coming out voting for our national and provincial legislatures.’

‘We had many challenges and obstacles in our national life over this past decade and the problems ahead remain large and daunting. Too many people in our country are still suffering the hardships and deprivations of poverty. One of the root causes of that poverty is the absence of jobs; nothing can be more of an assault on a person’s dignity than the inability to find work and gainful employment. Accompanying poverty are myriads of social ills — illiteracy, homelessness, exposure to preventable diseases, general penury and social vulnerability. And the threat of HIV/AIDS looms large in virtually all aspects of our national life.’

‘What we can say, though, is that we now have the weapon and the protection of democracy to face and tackle those problems and challenges. The simplest, but therefore also most fundamental, gain of our democracy is that the people govern. There may be shortcomings in delivery; government departments and officials may in some cases be under-performing; certain interest groups may feel that they are not sufficiently catered for; there are certainly many areas of legitimate and valid complaint and dissatisfaction. All of this, however, is played out, contested, debated and accounted for within the secure framework of a multi-party pluralist democracy.’

‘Because of our democracy—non-racial, non-sexist, accommodating of diversity—we have managed over this decade to cement the unity of our nation. Whatever differences we may have and tensions that may exist, our democratic constitutional order is not threatened. We are solidly one nation, united in our diversity, held together by our common commitment to the constitution. We have indeed put our racially divided past firmly behind us and face the future with the confidence of a united, non-racial, democratic country.’

‘That future lies in the hands of people and it has been a particular source of satisfaction to observe, especially over these last five years, a younger generation of leaders guiding the country towards a secure and prosperous future. President Thabo Mbeki is a shining and inspiring example of this. His firm leadership and clear vision had manifested not only in the remarkable progress South Africa has made, but also in continental and international affairs. The steady regeneration of Africa and the regard with which South Africa is held internationally are in no small measure due to his work and efforts.’

‘The growth, consolidation and sustained health of our democracy are the responsibilities not only of leaders, but also of each and every citizen. We may not take our liberty and our democracy for granted. Too many people in all walks of life and over many years and decades suffered and sacrificed for its achievement. The almost miraculous triumph of reason and compassion over prejudice and fear at the time of our peaceful transition is too precious.’

‘Every political party and organisation has a responsibility to keep our democracy alive, our people united and our country progressing towards peace and prosperity. Every individual in every sector of society has the responsibility to remain a caring South African, never indifferent to the affairs and well-being of our country and its people.’

‘We have much to be proud of as we look back on a decade of democracy and democratic nationhood. We have often been referred to as a miracle nation. That should make us humble and inspire us as we start a next decade on the long road of consolidating our freedom and building a better life for all our people. May God protect our people.’

In fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope.