Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the Jacob Zuma Education Trust Gala Dinner marking his 68th birthday hosted by the Leon H Sullivan Foundation; Mandarin Hotel, Washington
13 April 2010The Chairman of the Leon H Sullivan Foundation, Ambassador Andrew Young;The President and CEO of the Foundation, Ms Hope Masters;
Ministers of International Relations, State Security and Energy from South Africa,
Let me begin by thanking you for the very kind welcome we have received from all of you here in Washington.
I have not had sufficient opportunity to personally thank all Americans, and African Americans in particular, for their support in our efforts to overcome racial tyranny and build a democratic South Africa.
I am pleased that this opportunity has arisen today, at an event held under the auspices of an institution dedicated to Reverend Leon Sullivan, a man who embodied the solidarity and dedicated action that brought about freedom in South Africa.
We are grateful that we may continue to derive benefit from his legacy through this very important foundation.
I am certain that your role in encouraging dialogue with Africa will strengthen the bonds forged through the work of people like Reverend Sullivan.
In career spanning a nearly half a century of activism, from the Civil Rights Movement to the United Nations, the Chairman of the Foundation, Ambassador Andrew Young, has distinguished himself as a friend of South Africa and all of Africa.
I am also proud to call him a personal friend.
We are particularly grateful for what he has done to promote the Jacob Zuma RDP Education Trust and the cause of education in South Africa.
Your continuing passion for South Africa and the development of its people and economy is shared by President Barrack Obama.
He never ceases to emphasise his ongoing support and willingness to play a positive role in assisting the socio-economic development of the continent.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Jacob Zuma RDP Education Trust Fund has educated more than 20 000 children, mainly from very humble backgrounds, including orphans and vulnerable children.
It is a modest, but I believe important, effort to provide opportunities to poor and vulnerable children.
I realise that you can hardly wait to listen to the mighty Temptations. So allow me to present you with a very short list of birthday wishes.
My main birthday wish is that we achieve without delay, the goal of quality education for all the world’s children. Education is the key to genuine freedom. Education is the most tangible and sustainable form of empowerment.
That is why we have associated ourselves with the international One Goal campaign, which is using the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a means to mobilise support for a global effort to ensure education for all.
We are pleased to be able to host a summit of leaders, footballers and prominent personalities to coincide with the World Cup in June.
As we work to build a global campaign for education, we continue with our efforts to improve the situation of children at home.
We over the past 15 years worked hard to widen access to education, especially of the poorest of the poor.
We are doing this because in building a new South Africa, our children must be one of our highest priorities. They are the foundation on which our future is being built.
We had to prioritise education because of our history. It was used by successive apartheid regimes as an instrument of subjugation.
Colonialists and the architects of apartheid used education to produce people who could only undertake menial labour, who could not be decision makers in the land of their birth.
As the apartheid architect, Hendrik Verwoerd said, apartheid education was designed to make black people fit to be hewers of wood and drawers of water only.
We are now working to reverse that legacy through making education an instrument of liberating the mind.
It must give us scores of young men and women who would take our country to greater heights through achievements in all key disciplines - from science and technology to the humanities, agriculture, engineering, law, economics and a host of others.
By investing in this campaign for quality education, you are therefore taking your role in the struggle against apartheid a step further. You are putting your money into the education of poor South African children, and helping to build a brighter future.
While government is doing the best it can, and we continue to invest in education, there is still a role for our friends to work with us to expand access. We cannot do it alone.
Let me share my second birthday wish.
Fifty years ago, as other countries of Africa were celebrating their independence, South Africa was experiencing great pain.
Last month, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Sharpeville and Langa massacres and on April 1st the banning of the ANC and other organisations.
It took another 30 years of bitter struggle before we could celebrate the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, the unbanning of the peoples’ organisations and the return of exiles.
All of this led to the establishment, in 1994, of a free and democratic South Africa. This could not have been achieved without your principled stand and committed action.
We continue to draw strength from the selfless actions of the global anti-apartheid movement.
We now look to that same spirit of human solidarity and determined struggle to complete the liberation of the continent.
Let us commit ourselves tonight to draw on our shared achievements of the past to work together to build a better Africa.
This year, seventeen African countries will be marking the 50th anniversary of their independence.
With independence came huge challenges. Many African countries were faced with problems like civil war, famine, economic underdevelopment, and political strife.
It is important that we celebrate the great strides that we have achieved as a continent, while recognising the challenges that still remain as we strive towards the realisation of a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa.
In many African countries, the guns are silent and work is underway towards a lasting peace.
In many others, the attainment of peace is no longer the issue.
These countries are now focused on enhancing their democratic institutions, improving the climate for investment, and boosting economic capacity.
This situation gives us confidence that we are on the right path towards a better Africa.
This must motivate us to make an even greater effort to resolve those conflicts that still continue.
We need to intensify our work to bring peace and lasting stability to places like Somalia, Sudan, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As South Africa, we have always maintained that our future is closely tied to the future of our neighbours.
South Africa cannot thrive and develop as long as our neighbours in Southern Africa and further afield on the continent still struggle with poverty and underdevelopment.
That is a principle that applies to international relations more broadly.
The developed nations of the North have realised that sustaining their prosperity and stability requires the improvement of the conditions of the peoples of the South.
All humanity shares a common destiny.
That is why South Africa remains deeply engaged in the political and economic revival of Southern Africa and the continent as a whole.
It is also why we are keenly interested to participate in global processes around climate change, trade negotiations, financial governance reform, and nuclear security and disarmament.
It is in pursuit of these goals – on the continent and across the globe – that we see the United States as a crucial partner.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This evening''s events are a spectacular declaration that a new alliance is in the making, to make us achieve this wish of a better Africa through working together.
Eminent Americans are once more reaching out across the ocean to join hands with South Africans.
I am very proud to be associated with so generous a movement, and I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation at being able to associate my birthday with these efforts.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would be amiss if I were not to find time to congratulate the American soccer team and the American people for the heroic manner in which you qualified for the FIFA 2010 World Cup.
All the arrangements are in place and we are satisfied that we will delivery a successful, secure and very exciting soccer tournament.
We look forward to receiving your team and supporters on our shores. With six African teams participating in this spectacle, we want to ensure that the trophy remains on African soil for the first time in history.
We intend to work very hard to ensure that it happens. The American team should expect a very fierce South African side on the pitch.
We have agreed with President Obama that the final will be between South Africa and the United States!
My third and last wish is a simple one: it is that you and your guests enjoy this evening as much as I have.
No doubt you are aware of my love for music and dance. In truth, although it may be derived from our African music, American music has always played an important role in our struggles as well as our social lives.
Music unites. It celebrates people, their diversity, and their humanity. That is why I am delighted to be able to share this evening with one of the all time greats of our time, the Temptations.
That is why I am delighted to be able to share this evening with all of you, who have each played such an important role in bringing hope, music and harmony to the lives of our people.
Let our joint passion for music, the socio-economic development of the African continent and for the education of the African child unite us even deeper this evening.
Before I conclude let me thank all who have made this evening possible, especially Ms Hope Masters who worked tirelessly with the Education Trust.
I thank you all for your generosity and support.