Sunday, May 30, 2010

The ultimate ideal

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see realised. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
--Nelson Mandela, Rivonia Trial, 1964
The University of the Witwatersrand's Rivonia Trial Collection has many of the original papers from one of the most famous trials in history. I learnt an interesting fact from "Mandela", an excellent 1996 documentary: Mandela's defence attorneys managed to convince him to insert three words into the peroration of his most famous speech: "if needs be". George Bizos, one of those attorneys, reckons that those three words just might have saved Mandela's life. And with them, one might add , the destiny of South Africa.

No comments: