Nelson Mandela's Speech during Rivonia Trial (April 20, 1964)

Vee L. Harrison on 2019-05-03 14:47:29
During his speech in 1964, Mandela left us with some of the most powerful quotes of history. April 20,
2019 marks the 56th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s famous speech he gave from the dock in Rivonia trial in which he said he was prepared to die for racial equality in South Africa.
In the Rivonia Trial, Mandela chose to deliver an actual speech, instead of testifying from the dock. The
speech was made at the beginning of the defense case and lasted more than four hours. During his
speech he said:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought
against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a
democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal
opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for
which I am prepared to die.”
Less than two months later, Mandela and his comrades were convicted of sabotage and sentenced to
life imprisonment. He signed the speech and dated it ‘April 1964’. Mandela then gave the speech to
Sylvia Neame, a political activist, and the partner, at the time, of Mr. Kathrada. She was arrested in
August 1964 and put on trial with Advocate Bram Fischer with ten others.
In April 1965, they were convicted and sentenced. Neame was sentenced to four years (two years to run
concurrently). She was released from prison in 1967 and went into exile. After Mandela was released
from prison, she gave the signed copy of the speech to Mr. Kathrada who donated it to the Nelson
Mandela Centre of Memory.
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