Africa Day Celebrations 2016

Address By The Premier Of The Northern Cape, Mrs Sylvia Lucas On The Occasion Of Africa Day Celebrations Held On 25 May 2016 In Colesberg, Northern Cape Province.

 

  • Programme Director
  • Members of the Executive Council and fellow members of the Provincial Legislature
  • Mayors and Councillors
  • Traditional Leaders
  • The warm and hospitable community of Colesberg
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

I am indeed privileged to be here today with the community of Colesberg to mark one of the most auspicious days on our continental calendar, namely Africa Day.  Warm greetings to you all and welcome to this wonderful and exciting commemoration of Africa Day.

I think it would be entirely appropriate if I sketched a post 1994 scenario and I affirmed the essence of my being, my very humanity at the outset by quoting from former President Thabo Mbeki’s epoch-defining speech at the adoption of our Constitution on 08 May 1996 in Cape Town.

“I am an African.

I am born of the peoples of the continent of Africa.

The pain of the violent conflict that the peoples of Liberia, Somalia, the Sudan and Algeria is a pain I also bear.

The dismal shame of poverty, suffering and human degradation of my continent is a blight that we share.

The blight on our happiness that derives from this and from our drift to the periphery of the ordering of human affairs leaves us in a permanent shadow of despair.

This is a savage road to which nobody should be condemned.

This thing that we have done today, in this small corner of a great continent that has contributed so decisively to the evolution of humanity says that Africa reaffirms that she is continuing her rise from the ashes.

Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now!

Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace!

However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper!

Whoever we may be, whatever our immediate interest, however much we carry baggage from our past, however much we have been caught by the fashion of cynicism and loss of faith in the capacity of the people, let us err today and say – nothing can stop us now!”

Gripping and inspiring words indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen, and I am tempted to remark that it was divinely ordained that our Constitution was adopted in the same month in which we celebrate Africa Day.

Programme Director, Ladies and Gentlemen

We are proud and honoured to be part of this celebration of our Mother Continent in this beautiful town of Colesberg and we are mindful that there are other events and activities across our country, the continent as well as the African Diaspora.  Africa Day, both in spirit and intent, has always represented the proud and joyous celebration of African unity and dates back to when the Organisation for African Unity was founded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963, and is the forerunner to the African Union. 

Through the activities of this special day, Programme Director, we must raise and sustain the promotion of political awareness and consciousness of our history, our struggle for freedom and our continental economy, not only here in our home province of the Northern Cape, but elsewhere as well.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I also think it is proper that I express my conviction that Africa Day is a spiritual day;  a day on which we pay tribute to our fallen heroes and heroines;  our ancestors who worked as slaves;  our mothers and grandmothers who were commonly employed as domestic servants and child-minders;  our forefathers who performed menial tasks at the expense of their innate humanity and pride!  We bear no grudges, nor do we seek revenge or retribution.  We are a special people!  We are precious instruments of the Almighty!  We are Africans!

Indeed, this is a happy day, a joyous day, a day of reflection and introspection for our collective advancement as a province and as a country which is an intrinsic component of the African family of nations.

Earlier in this address, Ladies and Gentlemen, I made a brief reference to the occasion when our universally acclaimed Constitution was adopted.  Now, Programme Director, allow me to reflect on a pre-1994 scenario by quoting a few words from one of the greatest Africans and the finest human beings that the Good Lord was benevolent enough to bestow on this planet, in the form, stature and persona globally known and admired as Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

On 09 July 1990, a mere few months after his release from apartheid induced madness and while Madiba was Deputy President of the African National Congress, the Great Man had the following words to say at the 26th Assembly of the Organisation of African Unity Heads of State and Government Summit in Ethiopia:

“Earlier in the year, in the aftermath of the unbanning of the ANC and other organisations, we addressed an urgent request through the OAU for financial assistance to help us re-establish the legal structures of the ANC after 30 years of illegality.  We have also requested material assistance to enable us to carry out the extensive work to mobilise our people for peace.

I would like to take this opportunity to report on the truly excellent response by a number of African countries to these appeals.   

We thank these dear brothers and sisters most sincerely and are deeply moved by the confidence they have shown in the ANC, that we will remain true to our word and our history as unrelenting fighters against apartheid, for democracy and peace and for the total liberation of our continent.  We have arrived at a point where we speak of victory being within our grasp as a result of struggle and enormous sacrifices that have been and continue to be made by our people, the people of Southern Africa and our continent.”

Ladies and Gentlemen

Our inextricable connection to the rest of Africa is clearly and unmistakeably apparent.  Mandela’s appreciative sentiments to the OAU are testimony to our indebtedness to our sister countries for their invaluable assistance under extremely trying conditions.  This, as a matter of course, should be embedded in our collective conscience as a proud and caring nation.

Therefore, as citizens of this province of the Northern Cape, we are obliged to renew our commitment to the unrelenting unity and solidarity that propelled our forebears to victory over the subjugation of colonisation and apartheid. 

On this point, Programme Director, Ladies and Gentlemen

Kindly afford me your undivided attention:

As the Premier of this Province and as the political principal of the Northern Cape Provincial Government, we pledge zero tolerance on Afrophobia, Xenophobia and other related phobias.  Thus far, with a few exceptions, the vast majority of the people of this caring and loving province have been exemplary in not disappointing us.  I can confidently state that we will continue to live side by side in harmony with fellow Africans and other peoples of the world.  We will always remain mindful that our country is a signatory to the Geneva and AU Conventions on asylum seekers and refugees.  We will continue to respect, tolerate and understand our unity in diversity, including race, culture gender and language differences.  We will continue to appreciate these differences in furtherance of our common humanity, our common destiny and in advancing unity, democracy, non-racialism and non sexism on our continent.

It also behoves us, Ladies and Gentlemen, to pursue these objectives so that economically, our potential, as a continental collective, is fully realized.  This calls upon each of us, be it man or woman, to work together to pursue our objectives to build a better Africa underpinned by unity of purpose.

Ladies and Gentlemen

While we celebrate this day, we are obliged to take stock and reflect on the strides that Africa has made and the many obstacles that still beset our continent should not be glossed over.  The hoisting of our own flags and the singing of our own national anthems should not make us lose sight of the reality of the hardships we are still faced with, together with the need to continue our co-operation to rid Africa of the painful legacy of colonialism once and for all.

Also be mindful, Ladies and Gentlemen, that this year’s Africa Day celebrations are of great significance to our country as we will mark the following events that gave form and structure to the democracy we enjoy today, namely the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, the 40th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising and the 60th Anniversary of the Women’s March to the Union Buildings.

Programme Director, it is indeed pleasing to note that the national Department of Arts and Culture is, through theatre, music, visuals arts, literature, talks and essays, is popularising various aspects of Africa’s struggle for liberation through various art forms.

In addition, the Department of Arts and Culture will celebrate Africa Month as part of its initiatives of fostering the vision of the African Renaissance by way of the following priorities:

    • Increased economic opportunities for artists
    • Developmental approach of the artists
    • Increased product development
    • Cultural diplomacy;  and
    • Strengthening social cohesion among the peoples of Africa.

In strengthening the notion of African solidarity both in spirit and intent, the acclaimed author, Zakes Mda will be engaging with audiences in Kimberley and I certainly look forward to these sessions.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I feel truly overwhelmed as I stand before you today comforted by knowing that “Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now!

Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace.

However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper!” 

Programme Director, before I conclude, I thought it fitting that in further consolidating our democratic gains, each and every voter in the Northern Cape must exercise his/her inalienable right to cast a ballot for the local government elections which will be held on 03 August 2016.  I am confident you will do our forebears proud!

Remember, Ladies and Gentlemen that from Colesberg to Kakamas, from Prieska to Port Nolloth, from Galeshewe to Garies we are a special people;  we are precious instruments of the Almighty! We are African! May the sun never set on our great continent and our beloved Motherland, South Africa! 

I thank you!

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