SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all. Please be seated. I want to thank the Archbishop for those introductory remarks and to say Amen, because what he has set the stage for is a time of reflection that I am honored to share with you about the kind of future that we seek for the students of this great university and for all the young people of South Africa and the world. So thank you, Archbishop, and thanks to all the other distinguished guests, including
Ambassador of the United States to South Africa, Ambassador Gips and the Ambassador of South Africa to Washington, Ambassador Rasool, a native of the Western Cape and someone closely associated with this university. In fact, when it was suggested that I deliver a speech in South Africa and we asked the South African Embassy in Washington, there was only one answer – (laughter) – the University of the Western Cape. (Applause.)
And of course, it is a most fitting institution despite the Ambassador’s prejudice – (laughter) – because this distinguished, diverse, and storied university has played such an important role in birthing a new South Africa. At a time when apartheid was deeply entrenched, the faculty and staff of Western Cape took a brave stand against division. Over the years, they were in the vanguard of the struggle for justice, even giving thought to a new constitution. It’s only appropriate that this university and this area of South Africa, which has known both the despair of apartheid and the birth of new freedom, was once called the Cape of Storms before it became the Cape of Good Hope.
I first came to South Africa in 1994 for the inauguration of Nelson Mandela, someone who is of course a great leader and a hero to many, including myself. I sat at the inauguration and watched as jets from the South African Defense Force streaked across the sky, their contrails tinted with all the colors of the new national flag. For decades, those jets had been a powerful symbol of the system of apartheid. But on that day, they dipped their wings in salute to their new commander in chief.
For those of us who witnessed the ceremony, it was a searing moment. Here was a man who had spent 27 years as a political prisoner not far from here, now being sworn in as president. And President Mandela’s journey represented something even larger – his country’s journey, the journey of your parents and grandparents and great grandparents, a long but steady march toward freedom for all its people. Being present at the birth of this new democracy was an experience that not only I, but the world, will never forget.
We are now 18 years removed from that iconic moment…
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