“Old, very very dear friends, and especially you, my dear friend Madiba. How I wish I could be there with you physically. You know I’m there with you in spirit.
“God bless you; very many happy returns. What an incredible blessing you have been to us and to the world. You know people try to destroy a nation, as a group almost always they try to do so by denying that we have a history, a past.
“How wonderful that there is going to be this extraordinary exhibition of two extraordinary human beings. How wonderful that our children and grandchildren will know that the man who walked that long walk to freedom didn’t come floating down from the sky. He was a child at one time, like them, living in the rural areas, herding cattle, an ordinary being.
“Except that there are no ordinary human beings. Every one of us is extraordinary because we are all created in the image of God. But yes, they’re not being asked to emulate a superman who would come down from the clouds. Ja, he set an example for somebody who was in many ways just like them and so it’s saying ja, we can all reach for the stars.
“And just think, those who now enjoy many civil rights in the United States. How wonderful that they will be able to remember that it was a petit, beautiful woman who in many ways started it all. She said ‘no, I’m too tired to go to the back of the bus. And that was the beginning of an incredible revolution.
“Thank you, both of you, because we know Rosa Parks is looking down on us and smiling to think that she’s conjoined with you, Madiba, to give inspiration forever to successive generations.
God bless you.’
MESSAGE TO NELSON MANDELA AT THE OPENING OF THE DEAR MR MANDELA, DEAR MRS PARKS: CHILDREN’S LETTERS, GLOBAL LESSONS EXHIBITION IN QUNU, JULY 19, 2008