A Tribute to Nelson Mandela
The American Chamber of Commerce wishes to express our untold sadness at the passing of Nelson Mandela. Our deepest sympathies are with the Mandela family. His loss is one shared by every single man and woman who believes in the ideals he embodied.
As the organisation representing American business interests and investment in South Africa, we remain devoted to endeavours that benefit both nations. As we accept that Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, we also accept the challenge to continue with work that honours his legacy. Therefore, far from the end of an era, we see this as the beginning of one.
The hope that accompanies every new beginning is tempered with uncertainty. The fall of Apartheid and the rise of the new South Africa was no different. While the world heralded the rebirth of the nation it watched for any signs that their first faltering steps might never develop into the strides that the country so desperately wanted and needed to take.
As keenly trained on South Africa as anyone else's, were the eyes of corporate America. Among the ranks were companies who had abandoned their Southern African operations for their morals, as well as those who had never broken ground or even set foot in South Africa. While all agreed that the doorway to Africa had been opened, some questions remained. Would the house behind it be in order? And if so, for how long?
The answers to these questions lay, of course, with South Africans themselves but also with their iconic new leader, Nelson Mandela. The world hoped that a man already loved for his beliefs and revered for the lengths to which he had gone to defend them, would now employ his even-handed wisdom in the building of foundations upon which a stable South Africa could soar.
He did just that. Nelson Mandela approached America and its corporations with a new contract. It was a contract based on mutual gain. One that stated that profit could only be derived from those free and empowered to purchase regardless of race or creed. Where individuals or conglomerates could only enrich themselves by enriching and elevating others. That one nation's interests could never ignore another's. That the capacity of America to give work and wealth to its own citizens depended on its ability and willingness to do the same for South Africa, and indeed Africa.
That take and give are indivisible. That the rewards of prosperity would only be achieved by an investment in peace. And that true democracy can and should result in a life of plenty for many.
It was under these conditions, and with the assurance of a man of unequalled stature that American business recommitted itself to a long and thriving partnership with South Africa. A partnership that will endure as long as the spirit of Nelson Mandela endures.
In his spirit and through our collective deeds we will remain answerable to and responsible for one another's fortunes. To ensure that peace for humanity goes hand in hand with enrichment. That the quest for shared or personal wealth will never be at the expense of any person. That profit will be evident both in ledgers and in communities. This is our pledge!
Hamba Kahle, Madiba.