‘The Sun Shall Never Set On So Glorious A Human Achievement’

Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech, May 1994

Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, Distinguished Guests, Comrades and Friends:

Today, all of us do, by our presence here, and by our celebrations in other parts of our country and the world,confer glory and hope to newborn liberty.

Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.

Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.

All this we owe both to ourselves and to the peoples of the world who are so well represented here today.

To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld.

Each time one of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal. The national mood changes as the seasons change.

We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom.

That spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains the depth of the pain we all carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as we saw it spurned, outlawed and isolated by the peoples of the world, precisely because it has become the universal base of the pernicious ideology and practice of racism and racial oppression.

We, the people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its bosom, that we, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil.

We thank all our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity.

We trust that you will continue to stand by us as we tackle the challenges of building peace, prosperity, non-sexism,non-racialism and democracy.

We deeply appreciate the role that the masses of our people and their political mass democratic, religious, women, youth,business, traditional and other leaders have played to bring about this conclusion. Not least among them is my Second Deputy President, the Honourable F.W. de Klerk.

We would also like to pay tribute to our security forces, in all their ranks, for the distinguished role they have played in securing our first democratic elections and the transition to democracy, from blood-thirsty forces which still refuse to see the light.

The time for the healing of the wounds has come.

The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.

The time to build is upon us.

We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.

We succeeded to take our last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just and lasting peace.

We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.

As a token of its commitment to the renewal of our country,the new Interim Government of National Unity will, as a matter of urgency, address the issue of amnesty for various categories of our people who are currently serving terms of imprisonment.

We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free.

Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward.

We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.

We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.

We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.

We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.

Let there be justice for all.

Let there be peace for all.

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.

Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Let freedom reign.

The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!

God bless Africa!

Thank you.


Rest in peace, Madiba.


75 Responses to “‘The Sun Shall Never Set On So Glorious A Human Achievement’”

  1. 1 criquet
    December 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    RIP , you made a great mark on the world.

  2. 2 Nena20409
    December 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Beautiful Tribute, indeed.

    A Gentle Giant.

    A Guiding Light.

    The beautiful Soul thought the World how to Live Life with Pure dignity.


    This world will NEVER forget him.

  3. 3 HZ
    December 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    A spirit of gold has left us, and may we continue to walk a journey worthy of his work on this earth. Rest In Peace, President Mandela. HZ

  4. 4 utaustinliberal
    December 5, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I never thought I’d see a world without Nelson Mandela. There are some people who you never think death could touch because they are such wonderful people who’ve done so much good in the world.

    The world truly has lost a beautiful soul. May his gentle yet courageous spirit rest in everlasting peace.

    • 5 99ts
      December 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Ut – I answered your comment at the end of the last thread – I so agree – Nelson Mandela has been my hero since forever – it was the love of his countrymen – and people around the world – that kept him alive. The authorities lived in fear that he would die in prison & this would start a civil war of massive proportion. So he lived, and brought his people to freedom via peace. A wonderful, amazing man – who lived what he believed.

      The world is in mourning.

  5. December 5, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    He was a man to make a nation and a world proud.

  6. 8 utaustinliberal
    December 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm

  7. 9 africa
    December 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

  8. 10 GGail
    December 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Nelson Mandela, we will remember you with Pride. May God grant you Peace!

  9. 11 jacquelineoboomer
    December 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    God Freed Nelson Mandela!

  10. 14 anniebella
    December 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I was watching Dr. Phil and they interrupted the show to tell us that Nelson Mandela had passed. I’m so sorry to hear that, he was a great man.

  11. December 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    RIP Mandiba!

    Such a great man. A hero to all of us who love freedom.

  12. 16 ouapiti
    December 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    what a great loss for the world. He has done so much good for so many.

  13. December 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    So sad to hear this news. May he rest in God’s eternal peace. A light has gone out in the world yet the world is a better, richer place for his life and his strength.

  14. 19 99ts
    December 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Truly a hero – and wonderful to have such a leader who won the love, respect and honor through peace – not war. How many revered leaders owe their greatness to peace rather than victory on the battle field.

  15. 20 africa
    December 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    I await anxiously to hear PBO speak about President Mandela.

  16. 23 Layla
    December 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    RIP you WONDERFUL MAN!!!!! PBO must be crying…he loved him so!

  17. 24 Nena20409
    December 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm


    President Barack Obama will deliver a statement on the death of former South African Presdient Nelson Mandela from the White House at 5:20pm ET on Thursday.

  18. 25 Allison
    December 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm

  19. 26 jackiegrumbacher
    December 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Tears are flowing for those beautiful words. His was a soul that comes rarely to this earth and he will be remembered always as one of the truly greats of the world. May he rest in glorious peace and may his family find comfort in their grief.

  20. 27 utaustinliberal
    December 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    May his revolutionary and kind soul rest in peace.

  21. December 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Today we lost a human heart minted from pure gold. WE are all better off because of your presence on this earth President Mandela.

  22. 29 jackiegrumbacher
    December 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I’m reminded of one of my favorite hymns, “Come Labor On,” which is about the Lord sending us as servants into the world to do good. The last line– when life ends and the work is accomplished–is “Servant, well done.” I can imagine Nelson Mandela hearing those words about now because very few on this earth get to accomplish a work as well and as fully as he did.

  23. 30 Insomniac
    December 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Rest In Peace, Madiba. After all you suffered and endured, you still retained your full humanity and compassion for all people. The world will miss you, but it’s time for you to rest now.

  24. December 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    It is rare in history that someone like Mandela comes along, someone who manages against all odds and expectations to lead a country through a major political transition – upheaval, really – peacefully and leave it so much better than it was before. RIP.

  25. 32 Nena20409
    December 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Forget Him Not……for this world in my generation will Never Know another Like Nelson Mandela.

    A Graceful Soul. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

    A Journey Home. RIP

  26. 33 LDS
    December 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    I am so grateful that I lived to see President Mandela’s physical body set free and now his spirit is free.
    He helped me to realize that love concurs hate when I needed it the most the most. I am forever grateful for all the sacrifices this man endured for love.
    Thank You

    • 34 Layla
      December 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      God bless you LDS

    • 36 pkayden
      December 5, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Very well said, LDS. Love truly does conquer hate. It’s so amazing how he refrained from being bitter. God bless him and his family as they mourn his death.

    • 37 desertflower
      December 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Beautiful, LDS. Could not have said this better. Just got home to see his face on the thread and I knew without reading further what had happened. We are all blessed to have listened to his words and heard this wisdom and strength. Someone will pick up the torch and carry his world vision on. It is the job of each one of us. So sad for his passing.

  27. 38 jacquelineoboomer
    December 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    I will not mar this tribute post by saying anything other than it is very unappealing to see talking heads standing at the front of the press briefing room, on the live feed, awaiting the President’s heartfelt statement.

  28. 40 Nena20409
    December 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    The Reason I celebrate Nelson Mandela’s Life.

    He said :

    “If I Had My Time Over I Would Do The Same Again”

    He said that without hesitation or malice.

    • 41 jacquelineoboomer
      December 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      It’s my belief that the world as we know it has lost a guiding star, but he will light up the heavens now. As President Obama said, it is time to ” … pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived … “

  29. December 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Sweet peace! RIP oh great man!

  30. 43 MightyPamela
    December 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm


  31. December 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    RIP President Mandela – Father of The Nation!! Father of a Continent! Father of a People!

  32. 45 sherijr
    December 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    “A profoundly good human being” RIP Nelson Mandela

  33. 46 WilTal
    December 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    RIP Nelson Mandela…we’ve lost a World Hero.

    On courage – “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

    On freedom – “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Nelson Mandela

  34. December 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Goodbye Madiba. You are a beatiful soul.

  35. 48 GGail
    December 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Chipsticks, thank you for providing this space for us to pay tribute to this great man.

  36. 50 jackiegrumbacher
    December 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    President Obama’s tribute was perfect and delivered straight from his heart, despite the fact that the sound on my computer is so bad, I strained to hear him. I hope the jackals present a straight story that isn’t marred by idiotic pontificating about the president. This is Nelson Mandel’s day and the American media are irrelevant.

  37. 51 donna dem 4 obama
    December 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    He was a mountain of a man. His grace and fortitude is unparalleled. May he rest in eternal peace.

  38. 52 hopefruit2
    December 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    RIP, Nelson Mandela. The world has lost a rare hero.

  39. 53 utaustinliberal
    December 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I’m all choked up. President Obama gave a heartbreakingly beautiful tribute to Nelson Mandela. You could see how moved he was and what Nelson Mandela meant to him as a man, a human being, a community activist, and a president.

  40. 54 susanne
    December 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    a great hero of truth will not be forgotten. rip nelson mandela.

  41. December 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    A great man who gave up his freedom in the fight against apartheid. Nelson Mandela inspired many and through his life, he made a difference. Our hears are saddened by his passing, but we celebrate the life of this great man. Rest in Peace.

  42. 56 utaustinliberal
    December 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    • December 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Thank you so much for this, ut. I hope to see video soon but in the meantime, you always capture the letter but more importantly the spirit of PBO’s words.

  43. 58 hopefruit2
    December 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm

  44. 59 utaustinliberal
    December 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

  45. 60 jacquelineoboomer
    December 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Just one of his profound quotes, from which we can all learn and gather steam, in our own lives:

    “Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.” — Nelson Mandela

    • 61 jacquelineoboomer
      December 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      And think of this poignant part, ” … and also with myself, ” said by a man who spent all of those years confined in prison:

      “I am confident that nobody … will accuse me of selfishness, if I ask to spend time, while I am still in good health, with my family, my friends, and also with myself.” — Nelson Mandela

    • December 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      I HAD to tweet this. It speaks so much of what we witness every day. Tank you, JO’B.

  46. 64 hopefruit2
    December 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm

  47. December 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Oh my goodness, I just got on the computer now and I see that Mandela has passed. Oh, a mighty human has left us. Sorrow for ALL.

  48. 66 57andfemale
    December 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    • 67 99ts
      December 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      And too often we measure heroes by what happens on the battlefield – Mandela is measured by peace and freedom

  49. 68 Jewelz
    December 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Rest in Peace, Mr. Nelson Mandela. You left a great legacy, and will be missed. To the people of South Africa, thank you for sharing your favorite son with us. We will never forget him.

  50. December 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm

  51. 71 a4alice
    December 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Sad news but what an extraordinary man. His lesson of peace so important to the world. Aren’t we glad that we were lucky enough to live in this time? I am. RIP President Mandela

  52. 72 Dakota
    December 5, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Rest in Blessed Peace Madiba. A great, great man!!!

  53. 73 sjterrid
    December 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela. My prayers and condolences to his family and the people of South Africa.

  54. 74 WilTal
    December 5, 2013 at 6:09 pm

  55. 75 WilTal
    December 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    So beautiful!

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