Speech by Minister Nathi Mthethwa on the occasion of the opening of Kwa-Mthethwa Modular Library, in Ward 8, Mfololozi Municipality
Esteemed members of our traditional leadership.
MEC BN Sithole- Moloi
Mayor from Umfolozi Local Municipality: Cllr SW Mgenge.
School governing bodies present.
Principals from various schools from around the area.
Officials from all levels of government
Members of the media present
Ladies and gentlemen.
I extend my warmest greetings to all of you present. Today marks an important day in the life of our country. In this small corner of Ward eight (8), Kwa-Mthethwa we have gathered to officially handover a library to this community. This we do to propel and encourage the young ones that future is brighter with books.
The government is making good strides towards realisng the ultimate goal of the national democratic society that will ensure every child is acquiring the necessary skills that she or he will need in the future to build a healthy nation.
Today we stand on the shoulders of giants, freedom fighters who unflinchingly prepared the ground for our freedom.
Speaking of those who sacrificed for our freedom, this year, we shall celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of two of those giants, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Ma Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the untimely passing of that eminent African scholar, political activist and a leader of our people, Professor Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.
We shall pay tribute to the contribution they made, over the course of their lives, to the struggle for freedom and the cause of building humane social relations across the globe.
We should draw lessons and inspiration from their lives as we confront the challenges of the present.
The sanity and insights contained in books, the value of what history teaches us, what science, the arts and technology can bring us, this robust engagement based on true knowledge, before one proceeds with action, is what the world so sorely needs.
This can only come to us through the pages of a book, through the literary wealth of the world and those who have come before us.
Library is issued with the safekeeping of the history of civilisations, the lessons from the past, the documenting of the here and the now and the transmission of all this to future generations.
Let us never forget the responsibility placed upon us to treasure the artefacts and knowledge of the past, even as we travel at seemingly breakneck speed through a rapidly moving age.
Without libraries, without ways of preserving our legacy of books and the knowledge they contain, without encouraging new researchers, new authors, we shall not have moved one inch – rather we will have taken two steps forward and one step back…
Ben Okri, in his novel, Astonishing the Gods, describes an ideal civilisation in which; and I quote:
“The city [was] a vast network of thoughts. Courts were places where people went to study the laws, not places of judgement. The library, which he took to be one building, but which he later discovered were practically the whole city, was a place where people went to record their thoughts, their dreams, their intuitions, their ideas, their memories, and their prophecies. They also went there to increase the wisdom of the race. Books were not borrowed. Books were composed there and deposited.”
We are meeting here because libraries do make a difference in our daily lives as a community and nations.
We need to treat libraries as spaces where information conveyed through new technologies can help to revolutionise and transform our people’s lives for the better.
We need to equip our libraries with the common foundational texts that elaborate on our shared African identity.
Let us recognise that librarians are the trusted guardians of the rich legacy of our African world and of the world at large. They are tasked with sharing this wealth of knowledge in order to bring people closer together, in order to inculcate greater mutual understanding and cultural coalescence. They provide us with the knowledge of how the world works and trace our journey to a new and better world.
We recognise the rights of people to knowledge, the rights of the girl child to access education, the right to equality in access to knowledge so that it is not the domain of the rich but also empowers the poor.
We will do all we can therefore to help to resource the African library agenda.
Together we need to build a society of informed people, where libraries flourish, where consciousness is heightened and where the culture of reading is a way of life.