Remarks by the minister Paul Mashatile, on the occasion of the arts community tribute to the late former President Nelson Mandela
Our National Poet Laureate, Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile
The Chairperson of the Council of the Market Theatre Foundation, Mr Kwanele Gumbi
The interim CEO of the Market Theatre Foundation, Dr Mokone-Matabane
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We have gathered here today, as the arts community, to pay our last respects to the late founding father of our democratic nation, Isithwalandwe, Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
We are joining millions across the globe in sending our condolences to Tata’s wife Mama Graca Machel, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the entire family of Mandela and the abaThembu Royal family.
As artists we are today paying tribute to this great icon of our country, our continent and the world by doing what we do best; through song, dance, poetry and other performances.
As we know Tata Madiba was a great admirer of the work of artists.
Who can forget the unique and famous Madiba dance, where Tata would dance passionately to the sounds of our voices and the beat of our drums.
The work of artists also had a profound impact on Tata Madiba’s life.
In this regard we recall, among others, his words after watching a performance by the Dance Theatre of Harlem, who were his guests in the country in 1992 when he said;
“Watching the Dance Theatre of Harlem, was a wonderful experience which I enjoyed immensely. I forgot the hardships I endured all my life”
Those were indeed profound words from Tata, once more re-affirming the power of the arts to heal the wounds of the past and to contribute to the nourishment of the soul.
It was also Tata Madiba who once said about African music;
“The curious beauty of African music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. You may be poor, you may have only a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope.”
Equally Tata’s life and times have inspired the creation of many art works; largely telling the story of where we come from as a nation, the difficulties we have overcome and our collective yearning for a prosperous future.
Programme Director, just as the arts are a great unifier and a source of inspiration to many, Tata Madiba will always be remembered as the one who brought people together and inspired them to believe in what others may consider impossible.
Even in death Tata Madiba continues to bring people together.
He also continues to be a source of inspiration, always inspiring us to believe that tomorrow will be better that today and yesterday; and that the goal of caring and more humane world is within reach.
As we march into the future without our beloved Tata Madiba, let us as the arts community, continue to celebrate his life; a life well lived and life dedicated to the selfless service of humanity.
Let us also continue to tell our own stories; stories of a great people, standing on the shoulders of giants such as Tata Madiba himself, Walter Sisulu, Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, Dr Beyers Naude, Mama Lilian Ngoyi, Bertha Gxowa, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and many others.
I take this opportunity to thank all those who have made this event possible. This is indeed one of the many fitting tributes to the father of our nation.
Let us continue celebrating Tata Madiba’s life. He has run a successful race. He has made his mark. He has earned his rest.
I wish to conclude by quoting an extract from a poem by our own Don Matera, titled; Child. It reads as follows:
“And children again came
pure and clean
dressed in love’s sweet fire
bringing New Seeds
and where a despairing people stood,
the children planted a New Africa
for a New World.”
Let the new seeds of the new Africa and a new world planted by Tata Madiba and his generation of freedom fighters find a place to grow and blossom, where a despairing people once stood.
Hamba kahle Tata Madiba! We will always love you.