Nelson Mandela Melbourne

It was an honour to work on the Melbourne leg of former South African President Nelson Mandela’s tour of Australia.

Mandela received a standing ovation when he attended the “It Starts With Me” World Reconciliation Day celebrations. Describing his visit he said that he had been overwhelmed by the hospitality of the Australian people.

“As a young boxer it was my dream that one day I would become the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. That day never came but after the engagements I have had in Australia. In Sydney, Canberra, and now in Melbourne, I feel like a super heavy-weight boxing champion.”

Mandela also compared racial divisions in South Africa to those in Australia, warning that “the scars of the past remain and fester unless they are addressed.”

“At one level reconciliation, bringing together, wiping out of boundaries, represents a major trend in the world. Sadly that logic of global reconciliation, has not reached us sufficiently into all areas of human concern and it must remain the task of all of us, to take reconciliation to its more profound human levels, of people living together harmoniously, rather than merely trading without barriers.”

“You will therefore understand the significant and privilege for me of being able to share with you this world day of reconciliation. I come from a society with a long history of deep racial and communal division and conflicts, that was in the end able to achieve political reconciliation through a process of inclusive negotiations.”

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