Remarks by Mduduzi Mbada, special advisor to the Minister of Arts and Culture at the gala reception and preview for the premier of Nelson Mandela Exhibition at Washington, USA
Directors of the Programme
The Howard University Interim President Wayne Frederick
H.E. The South African Ambassador to the United States of America, Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool
Dr Joseph Harris, Professor Emeritus Howard University Department of History
The Director of the Howard University Republic of South Africa Project, Dr Jean Bailey
My Colleague, Mr Percy Mthimkhulu
Members of the Academia
Excellences Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Allow me to start by saying, Good Evening! Molweni!Abusheni! Goienaand!Sanibonani!Dumelang!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have just greeted you insix of our country’s eleven official languages.
I have done this as a way of reflecting the diversity of the South African nation; a nation our founding father; Tata Nelson Mandela, once referred to as a “rainbow nation”.
This diversity is also aptly captured in our National Motto as inscribed in our Coat of Arms which states that;!Ke e: /xarra://ke. Taken from the language of the Khoi people, what our National Motto says is that; diverse people unite!
All of this, Ladies and Gentlemen, speaks to the unique make-up of the new South African nation we are building; a nation united in its diversity.
This is a nation that shaped and inspired Nelson Mandela the character; a nation that Nelson Mandela the Prisoner suffered for; and a nation that Nelson Mandela the President worked hard to lay the foundations of!
Our National Motto, !Ke e:/xarra://ke,speaks of the reality that; while the South African struggle for national liberation could have easily become a struggle against a particular race group, it evolved to embrace humanity as one and to view diversity as a source of strength.
As we continue to build the new South African nation, we do so in line with the values instilled on us by Tata Madiba and his generation of freedom fighters.
These values include Ubuntu which teaches us that; I am because you are. They also include the values of humility, respect for others, dignity, courage and selflessness.
As the Ministry of Arts and Culture in South Africa, we are proud to bring this exhibition that honours the founding father of our democratic nation titled:"Nelson Mandela: From Prisoner to President,"to Washington DC.
A similar exhibition is currently being presented in France, at the Paris City Hall, where it continues to attract record attendances.
We are looking forward to tour the exhibition to the rest of the world including to other major cities in the United States of America.
This exhibition offers a glimpse of Tata Madiba’s life and times through the following themes; Mandela the character, the comrade, the leader, the prisoner, the negotiator and the statesman.
It highlights the role former President Mandela played in almost all the epochs that shaped the current South African situation.
As we know, former President Mandela and his generation led the radical transformation of the African National Congress.
They led the defiance campaign in the fifties, contributed towards the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955, formed UmkhonthoweSizwe in 1960 and led the negotiations towards a free South Africa, in which he eventually became its founding President.
Even as former President Mandela is recovering at home, his work remains an inspiration to many of us and indeed to the rest of the world.
As South Africans we are indeed proud to be the children of Nelson Mandela and to share his proud legacy with the rest of the world.
I trust that you will continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers.
Directors of the Programme, we are of the view that the South African miracle wouldn’t have been possible if it was not for the leadership of former President Mandela and his generation and indeed the support of the rest of the world, including yourselves!
We therefore remain forever indebted to you for your efforts in ensuring that we secure our freedom.
As you know, next year in 2014, our country will celebrate twenty years of Freedom and Democracy.
Thesewill be celebrations of a free people and indeed celebrations of Nelson Mandela and his generation of leaders for their contribution in building a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world.
The celebrations will take an international character because ours was an international struggle.
They will, among others, be inspired by the words of former President Mandela himself who said; “We should never forget those on whose shoulders we stand and those who paid the supreme price for our freedom”.
Let me add that those upon whose shoulders we stand and who paid the supreme sacrifice for us to be free,are both in South Africa, in the African continent and in the rest of the world.
Side by side we fought not just for the freedom of South Africa, we fought also for the freedom of the oppressed people wherever they are.
In this context we are reminded of the historic march fifty years ago led by Dr Martin Luther King.Dr King inspired many in the world that a dream of a better world was possible.
We are also reminded of the global solidarity our struggle received from among others, the anti-apartheid movement and the dis-investment movement.
To us this exhibition is part of on-going work to celebrate former President Mandela’s legacy and to share the South African story with the rest of the world.
The exhibition is also part of our work intended to thank the rest of the world for supporting the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It also signifies our collective resolve as a nation to live up to what President Mandela and his generation of freedom fighters taught us.
Directors of the Programme, we are encouraged that twenty years into our freedom and democracy we have made significant progress in building the kind of society that Mandela and his generation of visionaries envisioned.
We are succeeding in building a society that, in the words of Nelson Mandela, is at peace with itself and the world.
However we accept that there are challenges that still lie ahead. These include high levels of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.
As you know President Mandela once said: “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one finds that there are many more hills to climb”
We too as we move along the path of reconstruction and development we are discovering that; there are many more hills to climb.
We continue to investment in our young people, knowing fully-well that it is on their shoulders that our future as a nation lies.
Our major task in this regard has been on educating in particular the African child, because education remains the primary source for the development of a people.
We will continueto invest in the development of the youth because it is they who bear the brunt of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.
It is for this reason that last week government tabled before Parliament, the Employment Tax Incentive Bill aimed at encouraging employers to give young people their first job experience.
This we are doing once again to give meaning to former President Mandela’swords that; “As long as many of our people still live in utter poverty, as long as children still live under plastic covers, as long as many of our people are still without jobs, no South African should rest and wallow in the joy of freedom.”
We are also increasing investment towardsbuilding a capable state to further the vision of former President Mandela; that of fighting poverty, promoting peace and stability and through that build a better Africa and a better world.
We have also adopted the National Development Plan Vision 2030 as our nation’s collective response to the challenges we face and an articulation of the kind of future we seek to build.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is our considered view that arts, culture and heritage play an important role in bringing peopletogether.
It is in understanding each other’s cultural heritage that we can embrace our diversity, in the knowledge that humanity is one and that our destiny is linked.
It is also in the understanding of our diverse cultures wherein as a people we can interact better including on how we do trade with one another.
We welcome recent developments tobring culture as a fourth pillar of development, post the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.
This is in line with what the party of Nelson Mandela; the African National Congress, has always argued that;culture plays an important role in the growth and development of societies.
Thisfound expression in that seminal document; the Freedom Charterwherein it was declared that; “The doors of learning and culture shall be opened.”
We look forward toworking with all of you and the rest of the community of The Howard University as we continue to preserve the legacy of former President Nelson Mandela.
In particular, we must continue toinvest in knowledge creation, management and sharing as we work towards producing more of Nelson Mandelas, Dr Martin Luther Kings; Dr John LangalibaleleDubes, Marcus Garveys, Nkwame Nkrumas and many other great leaders of our time.
Directors of the Programme, we trust that this exhibition will provide an opportunity for all of us to learn about each other’s culture, appreciate our determination as a people to overcome adversity and more importantly learn about Nelson Mandela and preserve his proud legacy for current and future generations.
I thank you!