Address by President JG Zuma on the occasion of the renaming of Kings House, Presidential Residence as Dr John L Dube House, Durban
17 May 2012
Honourable Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize,
Aunt Lulu Dube and the entire Dube Family,
Honourable Ministers, MECs, Members of the Provincial Legislature, Mayors and Members of Mayoral Committees,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Boys and girls,
Members of the media,
Thank you for joining us on this historic occasion.
We have gathered to fulfill a very important historical objective.
During the State of the Nation Address we made a commitment to rename and name some of buildings and other official places associated with the Presidency, after distinguished South Africans who played a sterling role in the struggle for freedom and common human dignity in South Africa.
As you aware, the year 2012 marks the centenary of the oldest liberation movement in the African continent, which delivered freedom to this country, the African National Congress.
The centenary has provided an opportunity for all South Africans to celebrate all that is wonderful and progressive about our country.
The centenary also allows us to correct the vestiges of the country’s colonial and apartheid past, so that we can build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa, united in our diversity.
We are truly proud today, to rename Kings House Presidential Residence, after Dr John Langalibalele Dube, uMafukuzela onjengezulu, one of the most outstanding patriots and personalities in our country, and the founding president of the ANC.
Born in Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) in 1871 and departed in 1946, he left an undying legacy of accomplishment in several fields.
He is well known as an accomplished essayist, philosopher, educator, politician, publisher, editor, novelist and poet.
We are also proud of his sterling contribution to education in this province. He built Ohlange High School in 1901, under difficult circumstances, which went on to produce some key leaders in the country.
The country is also indebted to Mafukuzela, for mentoring and supporting Pixley ka Isaka Seme, the man who played a fundamental and key role in the founding of the African National Congress.
We are also proud of Mafukuzela’s contribution to media diversity and media freedom. He also started the newspaper Ilanga lase Natal.
In that way, he taught us the importance of establishing instruments that record our lives and which are a mirror in which we must look at ourselves, instead of having our stories being told by those who are hostile to our very existence.
Dr Dube, Mahatma Gandhi and Inkosi Albert Luthuli also form a significant part of the history and heritage of this beautiful province.
They worked for peace, justice, freedom, human dignity, equality and the creation of a free, non-racial and democratic South Africa, uniting the Indian and African people in this province.
Lubaluleke kakhulu lolusuku lwanamhlanje.
Ngeke futhi sithi sesikhululekile uma izindawo ezibaluleke kangaka zomlando, zisenamagama abiza abantu esingabazi nababeyingxenye yabaphangi bezwe lethu, abacindezeli ababekade bephikisana nokulwelwa kwamalungelo abantu, nokwakha isizwe esibumbene, lapho abamnyama nabamhlophe behlezi ngokuzwana nangokunethezeka.
Ukushintsha amagama kubuyisa isithunzi nesigqi kubantu abamnyama abawumnsinsi wokuzimilela kuleli, kodwa ababecindezelwe izifiki ezweni labo. Lokhu futhi kulungisa umlando owawuhlanekezelwe ngamabomu.
This transformation process is exciting and dynamic, filled with opportunities for us as South Africans to enhance our understanding of who we are and in this way, to celebrate our common national identity.
This exercise will also promote national healing and reconciliation.
It is for this reason that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended the re-naming of geographical and historical features as a form of symbolic reparations to address South Africa’s unjust past.
I must emphasise that the objective of this process is not to obliterate the history of any section of our society.
Instead, it seeks to contribute towards building an inclusive society which acknowledges our common heritage, nationhood and destiny.
Through registering new names and changing others, we hope to build a country that all our people can call home, in which the majority does not feel alienated.
It is important as well to indicate that the process of names standardization is not new in South Africa, neither is it unique for South Africa as a country.
It began in 1939 with what was then called the National Place Names Committee. We will not delve into the work that this committee did, suffice to say that our responsibility is to correct and harmonise the process in this phase of freedom.
It is interesting that there are still some sections of our population who argue that the standardization of geographical names in South Africa is an unnecessary wasteful exercise, which is undertaken to spite certain cultural or linguistic groups.
They even go as far as arguing that the process of standardizing geographical names should be abandoned and the money used to build RDP houses!
It is only those who are in denial about the inhuman practices and atrocities perpetrated against indigenous populations by colonial powers in every part of the world, who would think that the exercise we are embarking upon is not necessary and important.
It is not the intention of the South African government to destroy the diverse history and heritage of any section of the South African population.
But, there has to be recognition of the realities of the horrible period of colonization and apartheid.
We cannot deceive ourselves about our history, which has been fraught with pain and suffering for the majority, for over three centuries.
The pain associated with that erosion of the very existence of our people can never be quantified, and cannot be undone.
The renaming process will help to restore a sense of identity and national pride amongst our people, and will also assist in the reconstruction of the history of many places in South Africa.
While changing the names, it is also important to keep the historical artefacts safely stored, so that future generations can be able to see the twists, turns and pains of our history, and ensure that they do not repeat the suffering of the past.
We are proud of this exercise and invite all communities to join us in celebrating this indigenization of South Africa in a most peaceful and constructive way.
It is my honour, privilege and pleasure to declare today, that Kings House is now Dr John L Dube House.
May I at this point, invite you ladies and gentlemen, to rise and join me in a toast, to the free, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa, and to the new Dr John L Dube House!
I thank you!