Address by His Excellency, President Jacob G Zuma at the Nelson Mandela Birthday Celebrations, Mvezo Village, Umthatha, Eastern Cape
18 July 2010Programme Directors,
Chief Zwelivelile Mandela and the Mandela family,
Premier of the Eastern Cape Province, Ms Noxolo Kiviet
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Chief Whip of the Majority Party, Dr Mathole Motshekga and Members of Parliament present,
Members of the Provincial Legislature, MECs and Mayors,
Community of Mvezo and surroundings,
We extend warm greetings to you all on this wonderful occasion that unites our nation and the world.
Today we are united as a nation to celebrate the life of a colossus, a true humanitarian and selfless leader of our people, President Nelson Mandela.
Let me from the onset acknowledge that because he was nurtured in the culture of the ruling party that celebrates collective leadership, Tata Madiba is uncomfortable with accolades, which credit him for all the successes of our struggle.
He made this very clear in his Pretoria trial in 1962, when he said:
"It has been suggested that the advances, the articulateness of our people, the successes which they are achieving here, and the recognition which they are winning both here and abroad are in some way the result of my work.
“I must place on record my belief that I have been only one in a large army of people, to all of whom the credit for any success of achievement is due. Advance and progress is not the result of my work alone, but of the collective work of my colleagues and I, both here and abroad”.
Tata added in a most exemplary way:
"I have been fortunate throughout my political life to work together with colleagues whose abilities and contributions to the cause of my people''s freedom have been greater and better than my own, people who have been loved and respected by the African population generally, as a result of the dedicated way in which they have fought for freedom and for peace and justice in this country".
We respect that. For that reason, allow us to honour all your peers, friends and colleagues on this special day. We celebrate all our stalwarts who shared the trenches with you, working to ensure the dawn of freedom.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Tata Madiba, like President Oliver Tambo, Inkosi Albert Luthuli and many of their peers were internationalists. It is not surprising that today we honour him jointly with the world.
The 67 years of active contribution to a better South Africa has been recognised by the United Nations and is being celebrated as Mandela Day for the first time this year.
We thank the world for never ceasing to recognise the successes of this nation.
we also thank all those who have taken time to contribute 67 minutes of
their time to do something good for our country, our children, the poor
and the most vulnerable.
It is all that Madiba asks for the sacrifices he made so that we can enjoy the fruits of democracy and freedom. As he says, it is in your hands to make a difference.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This is a special birthday celebration because 2010 also marks 20 years since Tata was released from prison, which accelerated our march towards freedom and democracy.
He became the leader of this nation and President of the Republic at the right moment for South Africa in 1994, as we emerged from the horrors of apartheid.
Tata helped us to internalise that we are one nation, united in our diversity. He taught us to overcome hatred and embrace reconciliation.
At his historic inauguration as the first President of a free, united and democratic South Africa, Tata outlined his vision for a new South Africa.
He said: "We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.
“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world".
The first lesson we must draw from today’s celebration is that we must continue to work together as South Africans to build the kind of nation Madiba envisaged when he uttered those words. The unity of the South African people is paramount.
The patriotism and unity that prevailed during the 2010 FIFA World Cup demonstrated to the world that this nation has a great future.
South Africans flew the rainbow nation flag in every corner, supported their national team and ensured that the World Cup tournament became a huge success.
We came very close if we did not fully achieve your dream Tata, of one nation united in its diversity, celebrating its achievements and working together.
We thank South Africans in your name Tata, as we know that many thought of you when they donned their national colours each day.
They thought of what you symbolise to this nation – unity, love and reconciliation.
The second lesson from the Madiba legacy is that we must work together to entrench African unity and solidarity in our country.
When visiting Algeria recently, I was honoured to be given a picture of a young Madiba taken in 1962 in that country, when he went there for military training as a freedom fighter.
That is the type of solidarity we enjoyed from our African brothers and sisters during our hour of need.
In this spirit, we thank South Africans for embracing the African continent and our brothers and sisters from within the continent during the Soccer World Cup.
The support for African teams and the hospitality extended to visitors and fans from sister countries in the continent was also exceptional.
We urge a continuation of this spirit of African unity, love and friendship. South Africa is an integral part of the African continent. Our future is intertwined with that of the African continent.
Our government and people must, and will continue to work for the renewal and development of the continent.
Next week we will be in Kampala, Uganda attending the African Union summit, with other Heads of State and Government. We will be taking forward the quest for unity and sustainable socio-economic development for the African continent.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The third lesson we must draw from Madiba is that hard work never stops, for as long as there are people who are in need.
He retired from government, but continued working through structures such as the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund to create a better life for the underprivileged.
Government, working with the people must speed up change in every part of the country, urban and rural.
Among the activities earlier today, we were very pleased to officially open the Mvezo Multi-purpose centre, which will serve this community with dedication.
Education being very close to Madiba’s heart, we were most pleased to note that renovations at the Mvezo Junior Secondary School have almost been completed.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Tata loves children and wants only the best for them. Out of today’s celebrations, let us make a commitment to make our country a safer, warmer and more loving place for our children.
Let us also join forces to make education a real apex priority for this nation. All our goals will be achieved in the long-term if we invest in education with all human and material resources.
During the World Cup tournament we hosted an education summit to promote the United Nations Millennium Development Goals which urge us to ensure that every child is in school by the year 2015.
As part of supporting the 1Goal Education for All Campaign legacy of the World Cup, we ask every citizen to look around in their neighbourhood and inform authorities if there any children who are not attending school for whatever reason.
Some parents may not know about no-fee schools and other government programmes aimed at expanding access to education.
Let us spread the word and make sure that every child of school going age is in school, in celebration of Mandela Day today, and every other day.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This great event honouring our stalwart and leader has shown great collaboration between Parliament and the Executive.
Throughout the week, Members of Parliament in conjunction with the Eastern Cape Provincial Government were involved in a number of activities.
These included visits to schools, land and environmental awareness campaigns, fencing of Heritage sites, an anti-child trafficking seminar and renovation of the Mvezo dipping tank.
This augurs well for our democracy as national events such as this one require that we pull together.
Fellow South Africans,
Of all the things that Madiba cherishes up to this day, it is the love of all humanity, freedom, justice and compassion for all people that must motivate us to do more to make this world a better place.
He has provided direction; he has laid down a solid legacy.
In honour of President Nelson Mandela, our actions going forward, should speak louder that any words of praise we may seek for ourselves.
Tata, amazwi owawathethayo ngexesha le Rivonia Trial Tata asasivuselela nangoku xa usithi:
"Ubomi bam bonke bendisoloko ndizinikezele ukuzabalazela abantu base Afrika. Ndiye ndalwa ukucinezelwa ngabamhlophe, ndaphinde ndalwa ukucinezelwa ngabamnyama.
Umnqweno wam ngowokuba sakhe isizwe esikhululekileyo apho uluntu luhlalisana ngemvisiswano, abantu baxhamle amathuba ngokulinganayo. Umbono endizimisele ukuwuphilela nokuwuzuza, kodwa ukuba kuyimfuneko, ngumbono endizimisele ukuwufela".
"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die".
These immortal words will forever remind us of the supreme sacrifice you were once prepared to take, in defence of our people, in the quest of freedom and justice. We thank you most sincerely, Tata.
To the entire Mandela Family, your father, grandfather and great grandfather gave his life to the nation and the world.
We thank you for allowing him to be umkhululi wabantu, igorha leSizwe.
On behalf of our Government and the entire population of South Africa, I would like to wish President Nelson Mandela a Happy Birthday.
We also wish the whole world very successful Mandela Day celebrations.
I thank you.