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Address by the Paul Minister Mashatile, on the occasion of the launch of the Book “Letters to President Obama from the Children of South Africa”: Union Terrace, Sheraton Hote

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04 Oct 2012

rogramme Director, Mr. Joeg U. Limper

The Author and Editor of the Book, “Letters to President Obama from the Children of South Africa; Dr. Mukanda Mabonso Mulemfo

Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Business Representatives

Our Honoured Guests, the School Children

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank for you inviting me to speak at the launch of this book titled; “Letters to President Obama from the Children of South Africa.”

Let me start by congratulating Dr. Mulemfo for encouraging our children contribute to this book by writing letters to President Obama.

By contributing to this book our children were able to express their feelings, relate their experiences and articulate their wishes and expectations of a better tomorrow to President Obama.

The issues raised by children in their letters to President Obama are a reminder to world leaders of their responsibility to work together for a better world.

We commend all children who took part in this initiative. We are inspired by your creativity and imagination.

We are also encouraged by your deep and intimate understanding of developments in the world and how these are interrelated.     

We therefore welcome the launch of this book, which we believe will go a long way in promoting a culture of reading and writing in our country.

This initiative will also contribute towards improving literacy levels thus building an empowered nation.

As we know a reading nation is an empowered nation!

As the Department of Arts and Culture we will continue to promote reading and writing by building more community libraries and donating books to schools, community libraries and book clubs.

This year we have set aside more than R 1 billion for the building and renovation of community libraries throughout the country.

We are also working hard to support and develop a cadre of young and emerging writers as part of our overall efforts to grow and diversify the local books and publishing sector.  

Programme Director, we also welcome the launch of this book because, in our view, it will strengthen people to people contact between the people of the United States of America and the people of South Africa.

Indeed this book confirms that the future of humanity is linked and that what happens in one part of the world has a bearing in others parts of the world.
We are also pleased that this initiative focuses on young children on whose shoulders the future of our country lies.

We think therefore that this book is a worthy investment in the future of our country and indeed the future of all of humanity.

We must continue to invest in our children by, among others, expanding access to quality education.

Working with all sectors of societies, including with this project, we will ensure that more and more of our children have access to quality education; and that they can express themselves through writing.

To our children, I wish to say that I have read some of your letters to President Obama. They are very inspiring!


I want to quote this one letter from Nico Barnard from the Northern Cape.

The letter reads as follows:

“Mr. Obama, I admire you because you are a great President and a victorious leader. My parents separated when I was five…I’m living with my father, my sister and my stepmother. I heard your parents separated when you were two and I’m sorry for your loss. I think you are a great President. I like you because you rock and I saw on the news what a great President you are. I hope to meet you one day.”

This letter from Nico, speaks of the challenges faced by many children not only in our country but also in the rest of the world.

It speaks of the need to continue to protect our children, who are our future.

We must therefore do everything necessary to ensure that our children grow in a supportive environment so that they can become the best they can be.

Your Excellencies, the world today is faced with a number of challenges.

These include the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We must continue to work together, as nations of the world, to overcome these challenges.

This we must do in order to build a better world for our children and for generations to come.

In his letter to President Obama Thabo Khoadi, from the Free State writes;

“School is important, if we can’t go to school the children will not be respected…I want to say to all children go to school.

Whilst we acknowledge that there are challenges in our education, I want to assure you Thabo and the rest of the children of South Africa that; government is determined to provide quality learning and teaching in our schools; so that, as you put it, children can be respected!

Indeed investing in education is one way of confronting the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Dear children you must take Thabo’s advice and go to school.

The world we live in today requires educated people.

You must go to school and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills so you can compete successfully in the world and reach for your dreams.

As those who carry the future our country on your shoulders, we look up to you, the children, to contribute to the future development of our country, of the African continent and the rest of the world.

Inspired by the many letters you have written to President Obama, we as the older generation will work hard to build a better world for you and future generations!

Congratulations to all those whose letters were selected for the book.

I am sure that those whose letters were not selected will not be discouraged.

They must continue expressing their views and relating their experiences through writing.

Let us continue to work together towards building a reading and writing nation. This is a nation that is empowered and a nation that is fully aware of its responsibility to itself and to the rest of the world.

Thank you.