Address by Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile on the occasion of unveiling of tombstone of Rahima Mossa: Newclare
Members of the family of Mama Rahima Moosa
Mama Sophia Williams De Bruyn, the veteran of our struggle and other veterans here present
The President of the ANC Women’s League, Comrade Angie Motshekga
The MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture in Gauteng, MEC Lebogang Maile
Honourable Members of Parliament and Members of the Provincial Legislature here present
The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg and Chairperson of the ANC in Johannesburg, Comrade Parks Tau
Councilors here present
Leaders of political parties
Comrades and Friends:
Earlier today, we unveiled a tombstone at the upgraded grave of one of the heroines of our struggle for liberation, Mama Rahima Moosa.
Through this act we were, once again, reaffirming our liberation heritage as a key component of our nation’s collective memory and heritage.
We were also taking a major step in crafting a new and inclusive narrative of where we come from as a nation, the struggles we have overcome and the new future we are building.
Equally, through this act we were reaffirming that as a nation will never forget where we come from.
We were also making a statement that as this generation of South Africans we will continue to draw inspiration and courage from those who came before us. We will draw lessons and emulate their lives of selflessness and sacrifice.
Indeed the tombstone we unveiled today will stand as a fitting monument and a constant reminder of the courage and selflessness of Mama Rahima Moosa.
In particular, through this monument, we have immortalized the memory of Mama Rahina Moosa; ensuring that the contribution that she and her generation of freedom fighters made to our struggle for liberation remains forever engraved in our country’s collective memory.
By building this monument we have taken a major step in preserving the proud legacy of Mama Rahima Moosa, for current and future generations.
The monument will remind us that the South African struggle for liberation was embraced by brave men and women from all race groups; united by their love for their country and its people; united also by their collective quest for freedom, democracy and dignity for all.
It will also remind us that the South African struggle for liberation was fought by people from diverse backgrounds and that this diversity was a source of strength rather than a source of weakness.
The monument will therefore inspire us to strengthen non-racialism in our country; to build an inclusive South African society that belongs to all who live; black and white united in our diversity.
The monument we have built in honour of Mama Rahima Mossa is also part of efforts to highlight the important role that the women of our country played in securing the freedom that we today enjoy.
It is our way, as a nation, of saying; thank you to Mama Rahima Moossa and her generation of freedom fighters for showing us the way to freedom.
Through this monument we are also saying; Malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi!
Comrades, the declaration of Mama Rahima Moosa’s grave as a national heritage site as well as its upgrade, is part of our ongoing work, as the Department of Arts and Culture, to honour the heroes and heroines of struggle for liberation.
It is also part of our efforts to tell the full and correct history of where we come from as nation.
Equally, this work is part of our efforts to demonstrate that; as South Africans we are a great people, standing on the shoulders of giants such as Mama Rahima Moosa.
This work also seeks to remind us that freedom in our country came at a price. We therefore have a responsibility to defend it jealously.
As part of this work we have already declared as national heritage sites the graves of Mama Charlotte Maxeke in Nancefield Cemetery in Soweto, as well as the graves of Mama Lilian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph both in Avalon Cemetery in Soweto.
We have also declared the graves of other struggle stalwarts such as John Langalibalele Dube, Josiah Gumede, A.B Xuma, Reverend Mahabane, Steve Biko, Zeph Mothopeng, Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge, Peter Mokaba, Abram Tiro, Robert Sobukwe and Helen Suzman.
A number of these graves have also been upgraded.
In the coming weeks we will be unveiling a monument in hounour of Dr Beyers Naude, here in Gauteng.
Comrades, as we honour those who sacrificed and laid down their lives for us to be free, we must do so without fear and without hesitation.
We must never be afraid to honour our heroes and heroines!
We must not shy away from the need to re-write the history of our country; in order to ensure that it is inclusive of the experiences of all South Africans.
We must also work hard to integrate our liberation heritage into our nation’s heritage.
The new monuments we build must not only reflect where we come from, but also they must reflect the kind of society we seek to create.
They must be part of the new and inclusive symbols that reflect the democratic values we now hold as a nation.
Both in size and in stature, our monuments must reflect our deep appreciation of the contribution to our liberation struggle made by those who came before us.
Never again should we honour our heroes and heroines through small and sometimes obscure memorials.
The time has come to honour them in a manner befitting of their stature and contribution to our society.
Consistent with this approach, in December this year, President Jacob Zuma will unveil a nine meter tall statue of Tata Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings as part of its centenary celebrations.
In addition in April next year we will be mounting the statue of Chief Bhambatha ka Mancisa in Grey Town, in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
This we will do in honour of Chief Bambatha’s pioneering role in the early days of our struggle for liberation.
Comrades, the Department of Arts and Culture will continue to lead the national effort to reclaim, preserve and promote our nation’s heritage, including our liberation heritage.
We will work with all stakeholders to ensure that the history of our country reflects the stories, sites, events, individuals and groups that are of significance to the cultural, economic and political life of all South Africans.
Our work to reclaim, preserve and promote our nation’s heritage will transcend the borders of our country.
It will include the upgrading of graves and building of monuments in countries such as Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Russia and many other parts of the world where our freedom fighter were laid to rest.
In this regard we have already completed a memorial site and interpretation center in Matola to commemorate the Matola raid in Mozambique.
Our work also includes the repatriation of the remains of those South Africans who left our country as a result of the humiliation meted out to them by our erstwhile colonizers.
These include Sarah Bartmann as well as Klass and Trooi Pienaar whose remains were repatriated back to the country and have since been given decent burials.
We have also began a process of repatriating the remains of David Sturman; a leader of the Khoi people and one of the early freedom fighters who was taken away for imprisonment in Australia, two hundred and forty years ago.
Comrades, in the coming months the implementation of such projects will be accelerated.
Indeed we will move with speed to build more new museums, monuments and commemorative sites that tell the story of our struggle for liberation.
These projects not only contribute to transforming the heritage landscape of our country; ensuring that it is inclusive; but also they contribute towards social cohesion, reconciliation, nation building as well as local economic development and job creation.
We are confident that the work we are doing will go a long way in reaffirming who were are as a nation.
It will correct the wrongs of the past and restore the dignity of all South Africans.
We reiterate that the work we are doing to honour the heroes and heroines of our struggle is never about obliterating the history and heritage of a particular section of our society.
It is never about affirming one section of society over another.
Rather this work is about reminding us that indeed we are a great nation, standing on the shoulders of great men and women; that our diversity is a source of strength and not a source of weakness.
Long Live the Spirit of Mama Rahima Moosa!