There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.
The time comes in the life of any nation when there remains only two choices - submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defense of our people, our future, and our freedom.
If the United States of America or Britain is having elections, they don't ask for observers from Africa or from Asia. But when we have elections, they want observers.
Whatever the sentence Your Worship sees fit to impose upon me for the crime for which I have been convicted before this court may it rest assured that when my sentence has been completed, I will still be moved as men are always moved, by their conscience. I will still be moved by my dislike of the race discrimination against my people. When I come out from serving my sentence, I will take up again, as best I can, the struggle for the removal of those injustices until they are finally abolished.
This is one of the most important moments in the life of our country. I stand here before you filled with deep pride and joy - pride in the ordinary, humble people of this country. You have shown such calm, patient determination to reclaim this country as your own, and now the joy that we can loudly proclaim from the rooftops - Free at last! Free at last! I stand before you humbled by your courage, with a heart full of love for you. I regard it as the highest honor to lead the ANC at this moment in our history. I am your servant.... It is not the individuals that matter, but the collective.... This is the time to heal the old wounds and build a new South Africa.
Of all the observations I have made on the strike, none has brought forth so much heat and emotion as the stress and emphasis we put on non- violence. Our most loyal supporters, whose courage and devotion has never been doubted, unanimously and strenuously disagreed with this approach and with the assurances we gave that we would not use any form of intimidation whatsoever to induce people to stay away from work. It was argued that the soil of our beloved country has been stained with the priceless blood of African patriots murdered by the Nationalist government in the course of peaceful and disciplined demonstrations to assert their claims and legitimate aspirations.
I cherish my own freedom dearly, but I care even more for your freedom. Too many have died since I went to prison. Too many have suffered for the love of freedom. I owe it to their widows, to their orphans, to their mothers and their fathers, who have grieved and wept for them ..... Not only have I suffered during these long lonely wasted years. I am no less life-loving than you are. But I cannot sell the birthright of the people to be free ....... Only free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.
I hate racial discrimination most intensely and all its manifestations. I have fought all my life; I fight now, and will do so until the end of my days. Even although I now happen to be tried by one, whose opinion I hold in high esteem, I detest most violently the set-up that surrounds me here. It makes me feel that I am a Black man in a White man's court. This should not be I should feel perfectly at ease and at home with the assurance that I am being tried by a fellow South African, who does not regard me as an inferior, entitled to a special type of justice.
Today the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. The mass campaign of defiance and other actions of our organization and people can only culminate with the establishment of democracy .... The factors which necessitated the armed struggle still exist today. We have no option but to continue. We express the hope that a climate conducive to a negotiated settlement will be created soon so that there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle.