On 27 April 1994 South Africa breathed freedom's sweet air for the first time in centuries, consigning the tyranny of slavery, colonialism and apartheid to the dustbin of history.
The word "centuries" in our case translates as roughly 350 years, from the arrival of Jan van Riebeck to the Cape in 1652 to the abolition of apartheid. Ours was a long night of oppression. For a third of a millennium, our people suffered enslavement, theft of land and livelihood, colonial subjugation, super-exploitation of their labour and the indignity of the pass system.
Our 10th anniversary is first and foremost a celebration - a celebration of life, freedom, and international solidarity. This is a celebration, not just for South Africans but also for the world. For when apartheid crumbled, a great cheer encircled our planet - a great cheer from the lips of millions who had contributed in their own ways to the slaying of the racist beast.
In this country alone we saw the birth of the global anti-apartheid movement, the boycott of South African food, wine and other produce, great rallies and demonstrations, South Africa House besieged and the Free Mandela concert from Wembley Stadium beamed to millions around the world.
But as we pause to mark this 10th anniversary of our liberation, we also reaffirm our commitment to make the second decade of freedom - and the decades and centuries ahead - a future where Africa, the developing world, our Commonwealth and the world in general will have banished forever the legacies of an unjust, cruel and divided past.