The city of Johannesburg bestowed its highest honour on former president Nelson Mandela on Friday by granting him the freedom of the city at a ceremony in Orlando, Soweto.
”We are privileged to confer onto you, Madiba, Johannesburg’s highest honour, the freedom of the city,” mayor Amos Masondo said.
”We want to add our voices and salute you, Madiba, in recognition of what you have meant to us as a city, the country, the continent of Africa and to humanity,” he said.
Masondo said Mandela had in his life adhered to and promoted policy that had depth and resilience.
In response, the former president asked the mayor if he could now chase his Transkei cattle through the city’s main street without hindrance.
”Would it be rude for an old man from the Transkei to ask that this town, to which he immigrated many years ago, restore at least that right or privilege to this award. We would love nothing more than to fetch our cattle and drive them through the main street of the city,” Mandela quipped.
He said he was truly honoured to receive the award, especially as it bound him to two other great South Africans who had been previous recipients — his old friend and fellow Robben Island prisoner Walter Sisulu, and anti-apartheid clergyman Beyers Naude.
”Both of them made such an enormous contribution to shape our country’s future,” he said. – Sapa