Written Speeches That Changed The World

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Mandela's best known speech, delivered in 1964 from the dock of the Pretoria courtroom, having been in jail two years already by then.

The speech was made famous by its closing lines in which he speaks of democracy and free society, an ideal for which he said he was prepared to die.

But even if it is true, as far as African people are concerned, it is irrelevant.

Our complaint is not that we are poor by comparison with people in other countries, but that we are poor by comparison with white people in our own country, and that we are prevented by legislation from altering this imbalance. Above all, My Lord, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent.

I will tell Your Worship why: the real purpose of this rigid colour-bar is to ensure that the justice dispensed by the courts should conform to the policy of the country, however much that policy might be in conflict with the norms of justice accepted in judiciaries throughout the civilised world.

I feel oppressed by the atmosphere of white domination that lurks all around in this courtroom.

Similar facilities are not provided for the African children... The Government often answers its critics by saying that Africans in South Africa are economically better off than the inhabitants of the other countries in Africa.

I do not know whether this statement is true and doubt whether any comparison can be made without having regard to the cost-of-living index in such countries.

Can anyone honestly and seriously suggest that in this type of atmosphere the scales of justice are evenly balanced?

Why is it that no African in the history of this country has ever had the honour of being tried by his own kith and kin, by his own flesh and blood?


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