9th August, 2012
CAPE TOWN: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised South African democracy icon Nelson Mandela for giving her the “greatest lesson” of humanity by reaching out to his apartheid jailers.
Clinton told how Mandela had named three, white former prison warders who had treated him with dignity as his most important guests at his inauguaration lunch after he was sworn as South Africa’s first democratic leader in 1994.
“When I walked out of prison, I knew I had a choice to make, I could have bitterness and the hatred of what had been done to me… and I would still be in prison. Or I could begin to reconcile the feelings inside myself with my fellow human beings,” she quoted Mandela as telling his guests.
“That is the true legacy of President Mandela — calling all of us to complete the work he started. To overcome the obstacles, the injustices, the mistreatments that everyone, every one of us will encounter at some point in our lives.” Clinton said she was honoured to have had lunch on Monday with the 94-year-old in his rural home where he is living out his retirement and urged South Africa to build on his efforts.
“That is truly what South Africa is called to do, to continue the struggle but the struggle for human dignity, the struggle for respect, the struggle to lift people up and give children the chance, every boy and girl, to fulfil his or her God given potential,” she said.
Young South Africans should build on Mandela’s legacy to ensure the country reached its promise.
“The man who did so much to shape the history of a free South Africa has never stopped thinking about the future of South Africa,” she said.