Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Silvia Lucas pays tribute to former President Nelson Mandela

Tribute by The Premier of the NOrthern Cape. Ms Silvia Lucas, on the occation of the memorial service held in honour of former President Nelson, on the 11 December 2013 at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley

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  • Programme Director
  • Citizens of the Northern Cape Province
  • Members of the Executive Council
  • Mayors and Councillors
  • The Provincial, Regional and Local Leadership of the Governing Party, the African National Congress
  • The Leadership of the various other political parties in our democratic dispensation
  • Government Officials
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela:
The Father of our Nation and Icon of our struggle is no more!

I stand before you this morning mindful of a family in grief, a country in mourning and a world in shock.  I also stand before you with a deep sense of sadness while at the same time deeply honoured to pay tribute to one of the finest human beings that ever walked this planet.

We are all united, not only in our innermost desire to pay our respects to Tata Madiba, but also in the knowledge that we lost someone close to us on 5 December, barely a few days ago.

Tata Madiba was revered the world over as a symbol of selfless humanity, a man who was classless and who transcended nationality.  He was a person who needed no title to continue to generate his special and particular brand of magic which universally became to be known as “Madiba Magic.”

The Good Lord granted Madiba a full life and every South African is obliged to say “thank you” in the manner he brightened our lives; in the manner he almost single-handedly averted the real possibility of bloodshed; in the manner he conducted himself both morally and ethically and in the genuine manner he displayed compassion to the truly downtrodden and marginalised sections of our society.

Ladies and Gentlemen, only now that Madiba has departed, do we truly appreciate what we are without and that we want him to know that life without him is very, very difficult.  Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela:  The Father of our Nation and Icon of our Struggle is no more!

Over the last few days we have all despaired at our collective loss, but through the timeless strength and great meaning of his messages through Madiba’s years of giving has afforded us the sustenance to move forward.

Madiba’s God-given sensitivity, intuition and charisma was always evident:  Who would forget his presence when we won the bid to host the FIFA World Cup?;  or his calming influence when Comrade Chris Hani was assassinated?; or his having tea with Betsy Verwoerd?; or his casting his vote in war-ravaged Kwa-Zulu Natal during the first democratic elections in 1994?;  or openly declaring that he would only serve one term as President a few years before his term was up?

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela:  The Father of our Nation and Icon of our Struggle is no more!

Tata Madiba, both literally and figuratively, stands tall enough as a human being of exceptional and unique qualities and if there is a temptation to canonize his memory and legacy, the world would certainly lose out on the very essence and core of his being and his humanity.

In spite of his being jailed for almost three decades by an illegitimate junta, Madiba’s joy for life was transmitted where ever he took his smile;  the sparkle in his eyes were unforgettable; and his sense of humour was innocent yet infectious.

Nelson Mandela, the Father of our Nation an Icon of our Struggle, will never die for as long as the untold suffering of our people continue and for as long as the African National Congress lives to create a better life for all the people of our province and country.

Madiba’s vision to bring about a just and equal society is the vision of the ANC:  the two are inseparable, Ladies and Gentlemen, even during this testing and difficult period the ANC celebrates the life of Tata Madiba.

Madiba’s messages, his actions and his convictions certainly give us the hope and the courage to push forward vigorously for further development and towards ending hunger, poverty and homelessness.  We say now as we said of him while he was still amongst us:

“We have you, Madiba, as our nearest and brightest star to guide us on our way.  We will not get lost.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, together we have made significant progress to build the South Africa that Nelson Mandela and his generation envisioned.  Together we are confronted with the challenges in delivering to our people the freedom that Tata Madiba lived and died for.  And in continuing Madiba’s legacy, we will together strive to make South Africa the best country on the entire planet.

We assure the Mandela Family
, that Madiba’s dedication in building a united, democratic, non-racial and just South Africa will continue unabated.  Tata Madiba, as a Member and Leader of the African National Congress, dedicated his entire life to the struggle for the liberation of his people and to bring about a more just world order.  It therefore came as no surprise when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Isithwalandwe-Seaparankwe, Member of the Order of Mapungubwe and numerous other accolades, including honorary doctorates from Universities across the world.  The universal acclaim and recognition he earned is beyond description.

For all his greatness;  for all the global adulation he received;  and for all the myriad honours, awards and accolades, Nelson Mandela possessed an almost regal touch of humility and modesty.  His roots, his political disposition, his own ethical code and morality, was, first and foremost, shaped by the African National Congress.  In spite of his larger than life persona, he never, ever claimed to be bigger than the African National Congress.

Testimony to the influence that the African National Congress had on Madiba’s general outlook on life can be borne out by the following words said by his friend and lawyer, George Bizos: “Nelson does not fear death.  He once said that, when he departs, he will look for the nearest ANC branch in heaven and join it.  And he has often said – in jest – that when he dies, he will be in the good company of Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Chief Albert Luthuli and Oliver Tambo.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, reflecting on yesterday’s Memorial Service which was hosted by Government, Mandela’s unifying force was patently evident.  Without getting into too much of detail, one saw leaders of different countries, some who are at war with each other, and others with cold diplomatic ties, all sitting at the same venue, to commemorate the life and memory of one man.  It goes without saying that had Madiba’s life conduct heeded and emulated as a person, as a leader and as a statesman, world peace would be almost instantaneous!

Ladies and Gentlemen, consequent to the outpouring of our collective grief, and in celebrating and reflecting on Madiba’s life, we are obliged to ask:  “How are we to advance Madiba’s dream?”

The fact that as a nation we had the inner resolve to forgive and forget, and let bygones be bygones, I have no doubt whatsoever that each and every one of us have the capacity to make Madiba’s dream a reality:

It is therefore what I term a “national but collective obligation” for each one of us to remain steadfast to the Mandela dream, and as we advance, the most lasting monument we can build to his memory is to strive for peace and unity, to conquer racism and sexism in all their manifestations, to eradicate social inequalities, to educate all our people and to unflinchingly uphold a human rights culture.  Anything less, Ladies and Gentlemen, will simply not do!

Be that as it may, the world in general and South Africans in particular have a reason to be both happy and proud as it is not in every generation that a person of mythic proportions emerges from relatively obscure circumstances to stamp an indelible imprint on the history of the world.  We were certainly lucky to have one Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in our midst.

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to express our profound gratitude to the Mandela Family for having shared this great son of yours with South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world.

We also thank you for bearing the harsh and uncompromising difficulties of the Struggle with such resolve and fortitude:  by letting go of a loving husband, a doting father, and a grandfather which, when all is said and done, had certain consequences for all of you.  Thank you, once again.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think it will be prudent of me to conclude with the following sentiments expressed by the Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Naledi Pandor, which appeared in yesterday’s edition of the Sowetan.  I am sure it will find resonance with all of you:  “A giant has died, a man of steely resolve but with a heart imbued with a love for all humanity.

How should we remember him? Should we focus on the young boy from a rural village who went to study at the University of Fort Hare where he learned to fight for justice?

Should we focus on the young man who practised law and assisted hundreds in their regular confrontations with unjust apartheid laws?

Should we focus on the young lion who brought a new radical edge to the ANC through the creation of the ANC Youth League?

Should we focus on the Umkhonto weSizwe founder, a man ready to lead the ANC in a new direction in the struggle for freedom and ready to die for his beliefs in a democratic and free South Africa?

Should we focus on the man sent to prison for 27 years while his comrades and friends kept the Struggle alive and united the world against apartheid?

Should we focus on the man who united South Africa by becoming our first democratic president?

We will remember him in all of these phases of his life, but we will remember him most of all for his extraordinary capacity to forgive.”

Today, we enjoy the freedom for which he fought and the democracy he desired under the auspices of the African National Congress.  As we bid him farewell we must promise to continue to build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

Rest in peace Tata.  You have done more than any man should or could do.”

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela:  The Father of our Nation and Icon of our Struggle is no more, but we will forever have you, Madiba, as our nearest and brightest star to guide us on our way.  We will not get lost!

I Thank You

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