Nelson Mandela: South Africa is proof that there is reason for optimism

From a speech to a joint sitting of Parliament in Cape Town, by the former President of South Africa
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The Independent Online

We remember, Madam Speaker, that 10 years ago democratic South Africa celebrated its ceremonial birth with the inauguration of its first President and two Deputy Presidents. We recall the collective relief that we had stepped out of our restrictive past and the expectant air of walking into a brighter future.

Let us never be unmindful of the terrible past from which we come - that memory not as a means to keep us shackled to the past in a negative manner, but rather as a joyous reminder of how far we have come and how much we have achieved.My wish is that South Africans never give up on the belief in goodness, that they cherish that faith in human beings as a cornerstone of our democracy.

Historical enemies succeeded in negotiating a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy exactly because we were prepared to accept the inherent capacity for goodness in the other.

We live in a world where there is enough reason for cynicism and despair. We watch as two of the leading democracies, two leading nations of the free world, get involved in a war that the UN did not sanction; we look on with horror as reports surface of terrible abuses against the dignity of human beings held captive by invading forces in their own country.

But we should take heart from our own experience and performance. In a cynical world we have become an inspiration to many. We signal that good can be achieved among human beings who are prepared to trust, prepared to believe in the goodness of people.