The International Press Institute (IPI) today mourned the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela, whose resistance* to apartheid made him a towering icon of the global movement for equality.

Mr. Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg on Dec. 5. He was 95.

Deeply aware of the press’s role in accelerating the advent of democracy in South Africa, Mr. Mandela was also an eloquent defender of press freedom. He attended several IPI World Congresses, including Cape Town in February 1994, held just months before Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) would win the country’s first inclusive elections.

“I wish to express our collective thanks, as South Africans, for the support which our struggle for democracy has received from the international media,” he said in a speech at the Cape Town event.

Only a free press, he noted, “can be the vigilant watchdog of the public interest against the temptation on the part of those who wield it to abuse that power.”

In a wide-ranging address to the 1991 IPI General Assembly in Kyoto, Japan, Mr. Mandela had thanked the international press for its role in securing his release from prison a year earlier. Journalists had helped turned the tide against apartheid in the court of international opinion, he said, “not by being propagandists on behalf of the ANC, but merely by reporting events in South Africa over the last decade.”

Following is a copy of the February/March 1994 edition of the “IPI Report” that features Nelson Mandela’s speech at the opening ceremony of the 1994 IPI World Congress in Cape Town:

“You, the world’s media, laid bare darkest days of apartheid”

*The wording “peaceful resistance” was revised to “resistance” to reflect the early years of Mandela’s political activism against apartheid. Mandela in 1994 wrote that he determined that the ANC “had no alternative to armed and violent resistance” after he took part in the unsuccessful protest to prevent the February 1955 demolition of an all-black Johannesburg suburb. He formed an armed group in an attempt to steer this violence towards acts less likely to cause human casualties, but acknowledged, should that fail to achieve change, that the group was willing to enagage in “guerilla warfare and terrorism”.