Back home I always remind myself to observe the courtesy of thanking those so thoughtful to invite to lunch or dinner a retired old pensioner without office, power or influence.On such occasions I am reminded how powerful the respect is that people have for old age and grey hairs, because I am certain that is the compelling reason for me to receive such invitations. Away from home I am even more conscious of the privilege, and I must thank the Onassis Foundation and all of you present here for your generous consideration. I can recommend old age: it lands you a sumptuous meal like this from time to time! This trip will hold a special place in our memory of visits undertaken to foreign countries. In a very real way, this is a pilgrimage to a secular shrine that has deeply inspired important parts of our life. In a very profound way, we feel ourselves to be at our home away from home here in the Hellenic Republic.
Greek philosophers have inspired the quest for freedom in places around the globe. Their thoughts on democracy, freedom, governance, morality and justice served as beacons to freedom fighters and freedom loving people over the centuries. Our own liberation struggle drank deeply from that fountain of wisdom. Your art, and I must say particularly Greek tragedy, deeply informed our understanding of human life and our ability to deal and cope with adversity. And we all know that adversity is basic to the lives of those that struggle for freedom and justice. To be here in the cradle of democracy and of rational reflection about the human condition is therefore a very special occasion and event.
… Above all, it is an honour and the realisation of a long held wish to be here in the Hellenic Republic and to share with the people of this great and ancient country.
Speeche of Nelson Mandela at the Onnasis Foundation on Friday, June 21, 2002
luncheon cancelled to due Mandela becoming ill