Nelson Mandela Foundation

  JULY 19, 2003

Thank you Graça, President Mandela, Professor Gerwel, Mr Samuel, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great honour for my family and I to be here, with a lot of people from around the world to honour President Mandela. I thank Graça for her public work especially on behalf of the world’s youngest victims of war and I thank you for keeping Madiba young at 85.

I feel as if I’m in a natural history museum, this is what an 85 year old man looks like? I won’t look that good when I’m 60!

Let me say I have followed this long celebration with great interest. I think it has added years to Madiba’s life. It was two weeks ago that we were in London together, for a preliminary birthday present to Madiba, with our friend Tony Blair, to honour the 100th Anniversary of the Rhodes Scholarships, with a remarkable gift by the Rhodes Trustees to create the new Mandela Rhodes Scholarships to provide education to outstanding young South Africans here in this country. And to finally bring back some of the fortune that Cecil Rhodes made in South Africa, to the country where the money was made.

When I was invited to give this Inaugural Lecture I could hardly have said no. You know in my position in life this is probably the last inauguration I get to attend! And besides I have always loved President Mandela. On the day that Nelson Mandela was released from prison it was very early on a Sunday morning in Little Rock, Arkansas, were I was living and serving as Governor. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I got my then 10-year-old daughter up, and I took her down to the kitchen, and I sat her up on the kitchen counter because we had the television on top of a high food cabinet, and I turned the TV on and we watched together as Nelson Mandela made the last steps on his walk to freedom. As much as I love and admire President Mandela I may be only his third biggest fan in my family. It’s not too much to say, Madiba, that Hillary and Chelsea adore you, and I am honoured that they would come on this trip. We will forever be thankful for the kindnesses you have given to all our family over the years on dark and sunny days.

After all President Mandela has endured and given to South Africa, to the people of this continent and to the world, no one would have begrudged him a quiet and peaceful retirement. But that was not for him. Like the old man in Dylan Thomas’s famous poem, “he refused to go gentle into that good night”, yet neither did he rage against the dying of the light. Instead he simply soldiered on, raging instead against injustice and leading us toward the light.

Toward protecting the environment, reducing poverty, inspiring young people to civic service, resolving conflicts in Africa and the world over, fighting AIDS and most important of all reminding us every step of the way, that the most difficult changes in life involve changing ourselves from the inside out. Though his step may be a bit slower now, his voice still soars with conviction and vision, his eyes still burn with spirit and resolve, and his work still inspires the world.

His work involves things that people like me care a lot about. Whether he is advocating for better rural schools in South Africa, or for conservation and eco-tourism through the Trans Frontier Peace Parks, or for peace in Burundi through the Arusha Accord he brokered. Or for the development of new South African leaders through the establishment of the Clinton Democracy Fellows with the assistance of the friends from City Year in America. The second class of these fellows recently came to the United States and were in my office in Harlem in New York City, just a few weeks ago. They are impressive young people from all backgrounds, who should make you confident about the future of this great nation.

None of these projects of course could be done without dedicated staff and volunteers and contributors who make the Nelson Mandela Foundation a success. So, I would like to thank all of you too for what you do, to help President Mandela continue on his mission.

The life and work of Nelson Mandela has done much to help the rest of us to see the promise as well as the problems of Africa. The promise manifests in more democratically elected governments than ever, in a new generation of leaders committed to understanding and unleashing your economic potential. Especially President Mbeki with his leadership of NEPAD, (The New Partnership for African Economic Development) which renewed efforts to resolve the continent’s conflicts and to insist on respect for the Rule of Law and Human Rights as the price of admission to the community of new African Nations, and with more leaders than ever on this continent as committed as Madiba is to reversing the destruction of AIDS, TB and malaria.

AIDS is the most maddening of all the continents’ challenges, because it is completely preventable, because there are medicines which block most mother-to-child transmissions and other medicines that enable people to live longer healthier lives. But outside of the United States and Brazil, out of the over 40 million people with HIV and AIDS, only forty to fifty-thousand of them are getting any of this medication. More than 40 million people have HIV and AIDS with 15 000 more infected everyday, 25 million have died with 8 000 more dying everyday, while 14 million boys and girls have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Seventy percent of the worlds AIDS cases are in Africa, but it is no longer an African problem. The fastest growing rates are in the former Soviet Union on Europe’s backdoor, the second fastest growing rates are in the Caribbean on America’s front-door, and the next fastest growing rates are in China and India, the two biggest nations in the world.

If we want the world, I believe we do, for the 21st century children, if we want to improve global health and education and reduce poverty and promote stability, advance democracy and prosperity in Africa and across the earth, we must deal with AIDS and so I begin with that today, and this simple proposition: the best birthday present we can give Nelson Mandela is to expand the promise and stem the problems for South Africa, this continent and the larger world.

AIDS is more than a health crisis, more than a human crisis, more than all the funerals people are required to attend.

Over the last 35 years, Botswana had the world’s fastest growing income per capita - it has been derailed by the world’s highest HIV infection rate.

In some countries there are no longer enough healthy adults to bring in the crops, keep the factories open, teach the children, staff the hospitals and clinics, preserve law and order.

We know we can do better, we know from the successes of Uganda and Senegal and Cambodia and Brazil, we know that we can do better.

My Foundation is now working in Rwanda, Mozambique, and Tanzania and all the countries in the Caribbean, to help people establish health care networks that can care for all HIV infected people and dramatically increase the number of people receiving medicine and other vital treatment. Our strategic plan for Mozambique was just approved by the Government with the goal of bringing care and treatment to more than 350 000 people in that country in the next three to five years.

Recently the World Health Organisation has asked us to broker the sale of inexpensive generic medicine to any country that can get the resources from any place to buy it. The Governments of Ireland and Canada have agreed to help us and there are others on the way.

President Mandela and I have been working on this together since I left Office, and we agreed to serve as the Honorary Chairs of the International AIDS Trust working to develop leaders in every sector across the world for this cause, and to raise more money.

When I was in politics, I had 12 or 13 rules of politics, I called them Clinton’s Laws of Politics. Some of them were funny :

  • Everyone is for change in general, but against it in particular;
  • If you are really having a good time, you are supposed to be somewhere else;
  • When someone tells you it’s not a money problem, they’re talking about someone else’s problem.

This is in part, a money problem. I commend President Bush for proposing to triple American funding to combat HIV and AIDS. I hope Congress will appropriate the money, and even if it does, I hope the United States will do much more to channel funds through the Global Fund on AIDS, TB and malaria, making it available for more comprehensive purposes for all African countries and for the other nations which are afflicted. This is especially important because this year’s AIDS money in America is coming in part by reducing our commitment to TB, malaria and other child survival initiatives. But we also have to recognise that this problem will never be stemmed entirely until we develop first a vaccine and then a cure, so I hope that my fellow countrymen, through public and private donations, will support a global effort, to find a AIDS vaccine, just as we had a global effort to sequence the human genome.

The second challenge this continent faces is to unleash the economic potential of the hundreds of millions of people who get up and work hard everyday, and who are just as intelligent as any other people on earth. There have been unprecedented efforts in the last few years to help Africa’s economies, beginning with the adoption of the Millennium Debt Relief Initiative first embraced by the G7 countries in Germany in the late 1990s and funded by the United States Congress in 2000 thanks in no small measure to another of Madiba’s great friends, Bono, who is here with us today, and I thank you for what you did on that. Thank you so much.

Debt relief has had an enormous impact in the 25 countries which have qualified. Education spending has gone from being less than what the nations were paying to their foreign creditors to more than twice that amount. Health care spending has increased by 70%. Now I believe we need another round of debt relief and I believe more countries should be made eligible. Countries that are too rich to be poor, and too poor to be rich. Countries that look rich because there are a few very wealthy people that push the average up but it doesn’t really tell the story of how people live. When I was raised up in political discourse I was always taught to be careful when people talk about the average this and the average that. Sometimes it means just what it seems to mean, and other times it doesn’t. As one man said to me once, he said: “If averages tell the tale then if you stand in one pail of hot water and one pail of cold water why don’t you feel just right?” So we need another round of debt relief. We need to include more countries. For different reasons I think South Africa and Nigeria should be covered. The whole future of Sub-Saharan Africa depends on what happens in South Africa and Nigeria. Bono and I were talking about this last night. Look at the burden you have from health costs alone because of HIV and AIDS. A per capita income measure can never assess the impact of the massive migration into South Africa because of the problems in Zimbabwe. So we need another round of global debt relief and I can tell you, politically it is easier to get than direct aid because of the way all the rich governments in the world calculate the cost of debt relief. Everyone of them prefers to do it in their budgets because no one ever thinks they are going to get their money back, so if they relieve lets say $10 million dollars in debt it may only cost them $3 million in a budget year. So this is something that really ought to be done, and done right away. It is an affordable way to unleash massive sums of money for the most important human needs in Africa and throughout the world.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act which I supported and signed in 2000 has led to an increase in African exports just to the United States of more than 60% in two-and-a-half years. That means $8 billion more in Trade and $1 billion dollars more in investment for Africa. Still, if you set aside South Africa and its particular relationship to the export market, Africa’s share of world trade is a mere 1.2%. I believe the life of the African Growth and Opportunity Act should be extended. And I think more products should be covered. I’m glad President Bush talked about Trade on his recent trip, I hope he will push for these changes. There are members of our Congress, and both parties, who want to lengthen the life of this Trade Bill and broaden its reach. And this is more than money. This is about how people feel about America, about the West, about the future, about the market system.

Last year I was in Ghana, on a mission I’ll mention in a moment, and I was walking to my aeroplane on the tarmac at the airport in Accra, and this lady began screaming at me, behind me saying: “President Clinton, President Clinton don’t go, wait”, so I turned around and this lady was running towards me waving a package, and she came up and said, “I am one of 400 women who have jobs in a shirt factory here, because of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, so here’s your shirt”. And I figured, I’m not in Office anymore – I took the shirt. And I brought it home, and put in a place in my private quarters where I literally look at it every morning of my life, I look at this shirt every morning of my life, why? Because in a world where we are consumed with worries about terror and racial and tribal and religious conflicts and chaos, that shirt reminds me that woman is not mad at me, she does not hate my country, she does not want her child to grow up and fight in an African tribal war. She believes her child can get an education and get a better job than she has and build a stronger country and a better future for her grandchildren. Why? Because in a simple act of enlightened self-interest we passed a Bill that said to her: “We want you to be a part of our common future.” So, I think we should have more debt relief and more trade.

The third thing we should do on the economic front is to promote more internally generated economic growth in every African country. Through greater micro-credit lending and land-title reforms. I have seen whole villages in Senegal and Uganda transformed by micro-credit loans, but the wealthy world has not given enough of them to lift the economy of any nation. When I was President of the United States, we gave two million micro-credit loans a year – we funded them. But if we funded twenty million it wouldn’t cost very much, and if the world matched it, we could actually have a discernable impact on the economy of some nations. Of even greater potential significance is land-title reform.

In Ghana, President Kufour invited me to work with the great Peruvian Economist, Hernando de Soto, to set up a Foundation on working capital for the poor, supported by all the Tribal Chiefs, who nominally supervised the holding of property in common, in much of Ghana. The idea is to give ordinary people, no matter how poor, some clear evidence of title in their homes, their farms, and their businesses, so that their assets can be used cheaply without hiring a lawyer or waiting forever for some government process, to be collateral for loans. When de Soto did this in Peru, and completed the process, for three years in a row, the country had growth rates of 10% or higher. Just last week I was on the phone to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, arguing that what we are doing in Ghana should be speeded up and that we should offer a continental package of land-title reform to any African nation that wishes to participate. Even in the greatest trading nations, most growth is internally generated. In the end we have to find a way for Africans to make more money from each other, if we are going to maximise the potential of South Africa and every other African nation.

On the challenge of education what we have to do is simple. There are somewhere between 120 and 130 million children who never go to school. In a global information society which has a great premium on education, in every developing country in the world even one year of schooling can add 10 – 15% to annual income for life. So we should put the kids in school and make the school worth attending. This is not rocket science. In 2000, my last year as President, we sent $300 million to the World Food Organisation in Rome, to give to countries, to give a good meal once a day to children in poor countries, but only if they came to school to get the food. Guess what? In the participating nations, school attendance increased by seven million children. If you extrapolate from that for somewhere between $6 or $7 billion from the world, we could put the rest of the children of the world in school. For modest other amounts of money we could actually improve the schools, we could make sure they have learning materials, up-to-date maths and other things that will make the schools function better. I don’t know how many times President Mandela has told me stories of calling people on the phone to get them to give him money to build rural schools in South Africa, and then, oh by the way the teacher needs to have some place to live. But he simply cannot call someone for every village in Africa, in every village in the world that needs a school and a place for the teacher to live. If you want to generate more internal economic growth, putting the 120 to 130 million children in school will do it as quickly as just about anything you could do, besides the two initiatives I just mentioned, the land-title reform and micro-credit.

On security, I think that the rest of the world has more work to do with Africa. We should invest in Africa’s capacity to fight terror, to provide good law enforcement, to strengthen its borders and financial institutions and to engage in peace keeping. The Africa Crisis Response Initiative which began under our Administration has done a lot of good work using American Soldiers to train African Peace-keepers. I am very grateful for the work, especially what troops from the Okinawa Islands did, when I was President, and what your own troops are doing today in Burundi, to keep the peace that President Mandela brokered. When you put your troops on the ground, the rest of the world should make sure you have the necessary training, the resources and the support for the forces to serve effectively. And the rest of the world does need to be prepared under extreme circumstances to serve in peace-keeping missions on African soil, including Liberia. I commend President Bush’s openness to sending troops there, and if he does it, I will strongly support it. Promoting stability in western Africa may be the best way to keep that region and its mineral wealth out of the hands of terrorists and organised criminals who all too often have fed off the chaos of civil wars and human suffering there, to get the natural resources.

Finally, let me just talk a little bit about the need for us to support greater democracy. Before 1990 when you talked about democracy in Africa, you were essentially talking about Gambia, Senegal, Botswana and Mauritania. Now there are far more than 20 countries that by any good standard have democratic governments. In the last three years we have seen peaceful changes of government in Senegal, Mauritius, Ghana and Cape Verde. The reelection of President Obasanjo in Nigeria. We are making progress in resolving long-standing conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola. The Eritrea and Ethiopia historic Peace Agreement that I worked hard on after a mindless and bloody conflict. Throughout Africa we are seeing a growing belief in the rights of all people to participate in their nations’ futures, to choose their leaders, to hold them accountable. And an understanding that all of you have in South Africa because of your history, which is that democracy is more than majority rule. It is majority rule with minority rights, the rule of law, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom to criticize.

So, that is what we have to have in Zimbabwe and every other country on the continent if we are going to really maximise the potential of the African people.

There are other things that time does not permit me to address today; I wish we could talk more about the water shortage, malnutrition and the continuing need for peace and stability. But the main point I want to make is this – if you want to give Mr Mandela a birthday present do something to deal with Africa’s challenges, do something to tap Africa’s promise. It is not as if we don’t know what to do, it is not as if we have no evidence that what we can do will work. Africa abounds with evidence of what works. What we have to do is take what works and spread it across the continent. That is our job.

For the first time in history the rest of the world is interested in working not for or against Africa, but working with Africa, listening to you, looking to you, and learning from you. One lesson we all have to learn from Mr Mandela is how to build a community across divisions of race, religion and tribe.

We do live in a world so interdependent that more email is sent everyday than postal mail, and a sneeze in Hong Kong leads to a quarantine in Toronto. But the very advances that have brought our world together – transportation, open borders, the internet – have been exploited by terrorists to tear our world apart.

So, this is an exciting, but still unequal and unstable world. Yes, globalisation has lifted more people out of poverty in the last 20 years than any point in history, but half the world’s people still live on less than $2 a day and a billion of them will go to bed hungry tonight.

Yes, economic growth leads to a cleaner environment at home but in the aggregate because of the way we generate growth, it contributes to global warming which is causing malaria to move to higher altitudes in Africa. Global warming will flood whole Pacific Islands over the next 50 years and will take 50 feet of Manhattan Island away. It will change agricultural production patterns in a way that can make hunger much more pronounced than in Africa, meaning more civil wars, more disruption, more terror. Yes, we’ve sequenced the human genome and those of you who may have children in the future, in Johannesburg, may give birth to children with life expectancies of 90 years but still every year we loose 10 million children to completely preventable childhood illness.

Yes, we have great Universities and unprecedented global access to the internet and the fastest growing business in Bangladesh is the cell-phone businesses in rural villages, where women borrow money and buy cell-phones and then rent them to their neighbours for a fee to call their kinfolks in America and Europe who are sending money home every month.

But a billion of the world’s people are hungry, a billion of the world’s people cannot read a single word. In short, in our interdependent but unequal and unstable world, our simple job is to move from interdependence to an integrated global community, of shared benefits, shared responsibilities and shared values.

Madiba, the title of Senator Clinton’s first book, not this best-seller but her first book, which was also a best-seller, was taken from the old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. If we live in a global village we are all responsible for every child. If we truly understand the nature of the modern world then America and Europe and Australia and Asia and Africa are in the same village. And therefore, we are all part of our common endeavour to raise every child in the world. We have to be bound by simple strong values across every religious tradition. Everybody counts, everybody deserves a chance, everybody has a responsible role to play, we all do better when we work together. Our differences make life interesting. Look around this room. Pretty interesting looking room, I wish you could see yourselves. Life is a lot more interesting because of our differences but our common humanity matters more. The only way we will be able to honour and celebrate our differences in the world in which we live, is if our common humanity matters more.

That is the lesson of Mandela’s monumental life. Ancient wisdom in modern form. My Bible says, “All the Law is fulfilled in one word even this, love thy neighbour as thyself”. The Koran says, “Requite evil with good and he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend”. The Talmud says, “That man is a hero who can make a friend out of a foe”; in the Dhammapada the Buddhist says, “Never does hatred by hatred cease but by love alone”. Easy to say, hard to do. But we live in a world without walls and we cannot own the future of that world unless we share it.

Last year in Rwanda I saw powerful proof of that. I went first to the Genocide Memorial in Gikongoro where the bones of more than 260 000 people are kept of the some 700 000 who were butchered in 90 days in the holocaust there a decade ago. And just a short ride away I went to the new reconciliation village established by the government to give people housing only on the condition they agree to live with the people who had been on the other side of the slaughter. And I met a Hutu woman carrying Tutsi brothers who were dying of a rare disease. And I saw two women standing side by side as friends and neighbours. One of them had lost a husband, a brother and a brother-in-law in the slaughter, the other one had a husband in jail awaiting a war crime’s trial for leading the slaughter. I saw the children of the Hutu and the Tutsi laughing together and dancing together and holding hands together for the first time. When that path, the path of Mandela, of South Africa, of Rwanda, is taken at last in Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, the Congo, Sudan, then the African village, Mandela’s village, will be the inspiration of the entire world. We have to build a world of more partners and fewer terrorists. We cannot kill or jail or occupy everyone in the wide world who disagrees with us. We cannot do it. We must build a village along the lines of the trail blazed by Mr Mandela, who in the face of severest adversity refused to harden his heart or poison his mind with hatred and vengeance and gave other people, including me, more courage to make the same effort. He went into prison an angry young man in a righteous cause, he came out of prison a loving free man, committed to humanity’s cause.

Ever since human beings first rose up on this earth on the African Savannah over a hundred thousand years ago, we have constantly struggled each in our own little way with fear and hatred and hurt, with selfishness and short-sightedness, we constantly struggled to get beyond the narrow confines of our own experience to the larger truth of our common humanity. All of history in a way is the story of that struggle.

In my lifetime only two people have made that personal journey as the leaders of their nations, in the rough and tumble world of politics, Mahatma Gandhi and his worthy successor, Nelson Mandela.

And so I say to you Madiba, for whatever time I have on this earth, my birthday present to you is to try to help build that village, for every African child, every child in the Middle-East, every child in my home country, and God willing, when we come back here in 10 years for your 95th birthday party, we will all be closer to your dream.