Africa Day Performance of the South African Messiah, Regina Mundi Church

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24 May 2010

Programme Director
Your Excellencies
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today we gather here at the Regina Mundi Church to commemorate Africa Day.

On this day we pay tribute to the founders of the OAU (the Organisation of African Unity) who had the vision and commitment on the 25th May 1963 to form the OAU in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

They gathered together not for themselves, but for the collective good of the people of Africa as a whole. These leaders included Haille Selasse of Ethiopia, the great founding fathers of Africa such as Nkwame Nkrumah of Ghana, President Nasser of Egypt, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Ben Bella of Algeria, and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia

They came in their numbers from all over Africa as the legendary leader Kwame Nkrumah said, “for the sake of Africa’s greater glory and infinite well-being.”

PAWO was also represented at this historic and august event, where they represented the women of Africa, and recommitted themselves to fight colonialism and Apartheid until all African people and children are free.

They desired not simply their individual freedom, but a “Union of African States”. For them, Africa would not be free until all of us were free from all forms of oppression and exploitation.

Let us not forget, that on this day, 46 years ago, as African leaders from across the continent came together in Addis, they also did so for our freedom as a South African people.

They united so that South Africa could be free and in solidarity with the struggles of all other African people still fighting for freedom.

Let us remember that in the year 1963 our leaders in the liberation struggle, including Nelson Mandela were incarcerated for life on Robben Island after the Rivonia Treason Trial. We salute our brothers and sisters in Africa for the role they played in the frontline for the liberation of South Africa.

After we in South Africa achieved our freedom through their support and a long and hard liberation struggle, this helped to pave the way for the African Union to be formed. We can be very proud that the first assembly of the African Union happened here on native soil in Durban in 2002. It is with great regret therefore, that a year ago we had xenophobic attacks. We have done all we can to assist our people and we want to thank South Africans for their contribution in assisting economic and political refugees and re-settlement in communities.

But today is not only a day on which we remember the past. It is also a day on which we celebrate the present and the cultural life of our nation. Today we acknowledge the powerful role that arts and culture can play in unifying our people and the entire continent. This was demonstrated yesterday.

We are here to celebrate the power of choral music and because we recognize the value of music in our lives. Through choral music we know that we can strengthen communities, build strong values, grow local content and contribute to economic development.

That is why in the Department of Arts and Culture we are developing a policy framework for the South African choral music sector. In the next few months we shall embark upon a process of intense consultation with all stakeholders.

But today we are here to listen to Michael Masote’s wonderful and highly acclaimed adaptation of Handel’s Messiah and to join in song and celebration. We also salute Ntate Masote for his great contribution in choral music through competition and training of young choral singers.

We are grateful that the performers of the Soweto Young Voices and the Soweto Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kutlwano Masote are here today to share their talents with us.

We are thankful for the work done by ACOSA (African Cultural Organisation of SA) over decades in training our youth to be singers and musicians against all odds and in dark times.

Let us also give thanks to the joy that we feel today that our nation has celebrated 15 years of freedom, peace and stability.

Let us give thanks to the fact that we have had our fourth democratic national elections in peace and that our people came out to vote in their millions.

Let us be grateful that we have taken a smooth road to a new era and to a new administration under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma.

And let us pledge to work hard together to build our arts and culture for a better South Africa in a better Africa - and for the sake of greater glory and a better world.

I thank you.