Nelson Mandela’s 1999 Speech At Rice Remembered

The world is mourning the loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela today. Mandela was honored here in Houston during a stop at Rice University's Baker Institute in October of 1999.

Mandela spoke about how he wanted to be remembered.

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“I never wanted to be regarded as an angel. I’m an ordinary human being with with witnesses, some of them fundamental. I’ve made many mistakes in my life. I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

Mandela was 81-years-old at the time of his Houston visit.


Below is The Baker Institute’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela, including the 1999 visit:



Local statements on the passing of Nelson Mandela


Former President George H. W. Bush:
“Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know.  As President, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment — setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all.  He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country.  Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen.”


Texas Gov. Rick Perry:
“Through his valiant struggle against the injustices of apartheid, Nelson Mandela became a symbol of what one person can do to change the world. His life and legacy will remain an inspiration to people everywhere who believe in the power of freedom to create stronger nations, and forge a better world for future generations. Today, the prayers of Texans are with Mandela’s family, his friends, and the people of South Africa.”


U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas:
“Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe. He stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties he would not leave prison himself, declaring in his autobiography, ‘Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.’ Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free. We mourn his loss and offer our condolences to his family and the people of South Africa.”


U.S Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas:
“On this sad day, the thoughts, prayers, and wishes of all Americans, and peace loving people the world over, are with Nelson Mandela and his family. Nelson Mandela’s commitment to humanity as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker, and as the first elected president of a free, democratic, and multiracial Republic of South Africa inspired the world …”


Texas Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston:
“Texas joins the rest of the world in mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela, one of history’s bravest leaders. His sacrifice and courage in the face of unspeakable hardship demonstrated the extent to which some must fight for their freedom. We must all honor his legacy as we continue the struggle to improve all peoples’ lives. My thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family.”


U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas:
“Nelson Mandela united both his country and the world around the basic dignity owed to every human being. His unwavering commitment to justice and equality remains a model for each of us. As we mourn this great leader, let us also celebrate his life and work to carry on his legacy.”

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