Address by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa on the occasion of launching of the Human Rights Month, Buffalo City, Eastern Cape

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05 Mar 2021

Programme Director: Hon. F Nkomonye.

Hon. R Lamola, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services.

Cllr Xola Pakati: Executive Mayor of Buffalo City Metro,

Government officials present.

Members of the media here present

Ladies and gentlemen

Fellow compatriots, today we are launching our Human Rights Month 2021 under the Theme: The Year of Charlotte Maxeke: Promoting Human Rights in The Age of COVID-19.

This year marks one hundred and fifty years of the birth of two African Patriots; Mama Charlotte Maxeke and Dr John Langalibalele “Mafukuzela” Dube, who was the founding President General of the Governing Party, the African National Congress. These two African patriots went on to distinguish themselves during their lifetime in service of humanity.

These two witnessed in their lifetime events that had a great impact on their lives and that of the Africans across the globe. Amongst those events we can cite the following:

  1. 1878-1879 the last Frontier war: of the nine fought over a period of hundred years was waged by the Xhosa people in defence of our freedom.
  1. 1879 the battle of Isandlwana: A glorious page in our history of resistance was added. Signalling to the world that Africa is rising.
  1. The battle of Adwa in Ethiopia, 1896: led by Emperor Menelik II, further demonstrated that the African course is on track. Our march to regain our lost independence through brutal system of colonialism is irreversible. 
  1. Pan African Congress: Indeed the turn of the century also saw the first Pan African Congress gather in London, organized by Henry Sylvester Williams and W.E.B. Du Bois delivering a powerful address “To the Nations of the World”, but this historic gathering also included powerful African American women, Anna Jones and Anna Julia Cooper, who had written a book titled: “A Voice of the South” about the intersection of race and gender already in 1892. She posed the question “What are we worth?”
  1. The Bhambatha Rebellion 1906: a war waged against the imposition of the poll tax by the colonial forces.

These battles and many others left us with a heritage whose spirit of no surrender, of sacrifice and discipline, inspires and guides the African determination in the battles to come, a heritage which is a challenge to all of us.

The struggles of these two iconic figures of our country have left us a legacy of never allow your circumstances to determine your destiny.

Throughout their lives they have fought for the restoration of human rights to Africans both at home and across the globe. They understood the nexus of race, class and gender in our struggles both at home and elsewhere in the world.

The transformation of the heritage landscape is part of the process of restoring the human rights to our people. The renaming of the East London Airport to King Phalo Airport is part of those efforts.

The Ministry and the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture are charged with the responsibility of coordination and observation of national days by the Republic. The Human Rights day being one of those days. Critically related to the assignments stated above is that issue of nation building and social cohesion.

The governing party, the African National Congress has been seized with the matter right from its inception.

When we observe such days as Human Rights Day and Human rights Month we are continuing with efforts of Nation Building and Social Cohesion.

We the title deed holders of their work must ensure that we continue in their footsteps, never lose focus on the task at hand.

Thank you for your attention.