Annual Lecture 2003
Former United States President Bill Clinton delivered the First Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on July 19, 2003.
He used a character in a poem by Dylan Thomas to describe Nelson Mandela’s retirement. Like the man in the poem, Mandela “refused to go gentle into that good night”, he said. “Instead he simply soldiered on, raging instead against injustice and leading us toward the light.”
Clinton highlighted that, “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 to Mandela is to expand the promise and stem the problems for South Africa, this continent and the larger world.”
He also emphasised that AIDS was “more than a health crisis, more than a human crisis, more than all the funerals people are required to attend”.