“An ideal for which I am prepared to die”

Speaker: Nelson Mandela
Delivered On: 4/20/1964
Place: Supreme Court of South Africa
Subject: Civil Rights

Audio/Video Available:


Mid-1963, Mandela and other ANC members were arrested at Liliesleaf Farm, Rivonia.
They were charged with sabotage, a capital offense, to which Mandela confessed.
They were also charged with treason, possession of explosives, and plotting an invasion
of South Africa. The last charge Mandela denied completely. On April 20, 1964, at
the Pretoria Supreme Court, Mandela detailed the justification for using violence
in the ANC’s political agenda. He spoke of how the ANC had used peaceful tactics
which had been met with violence. He explained that violence became necessary when
all other means were unsuccessful and/or ignored. Here, we’re offering an excerpt
from the speech he gave that day at the opening defence statement.


Africans want to be paid a living wage. Africans want to perform work which they
are capable of doing. We want to be allowed to live where we obtain work and not
be tossed out of an area because we were not born there. We want to be loved, to
count in our own country, and to seek work where we want to and not where the labor
bureau tells us to. We want a just share in the whole of South Africa. I have cherished
the idea of a democratic and free society. In these concepts, we’ll live together
in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, for which I hope, to live
for, but if needs be. If it means peace, it is an ideal for which I am prepared
to die.

Scroll to Top