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Speech By The Chief Whip Of The Majority Party In Parliament, Dr Mathole Motshekga, During The Occasion Of The Celebration Of The Nelson Mandela Day In Giyani, Limpopo

18 July 2011

We are gathered here today as Parliament and the government of the Republic of South Africa to celebrate for the third time the birthday of our icon, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Since we launched the Nelson Mandela Week from 11-17 July 2011, South Africans, both black and white, regardless of their culture, religion, class, race and gender, took to the streets of rural villages, townships and suburbs to do something good for their community for at least 67 minutes.

It has never happened before that the entire government celebrate the life of an individual. It is exciting that for the first time in human history we have a national and international day of community service in honour of an African leader. This is an affirmation that this is an African century.

Mandela is larger than South African and Africa, and yet remains the humblest citizen of South Africa and the world. Upon his release from prison he declared himself a servant of the people for life. He became a national and international icon because of his selfless service to humanity.

Nelson Mandela acknowledges that he is a product of the ANC and that without the ANC he would be nothing. He is a revolutionary leader who internalised the moral vision of the ANC and its underpinning Ubuntu values and principles.
Nelson Mandela recaptured and internalised the vision of Langalibalele Dube, the founding president of the ANC, who foretold the birth of a free, spiritual, humane, caring and prosperous Africa. Mandela, affectionately called Madiba, understood and accepted that the recovery of humanity (Ubuntu) of all South Africans, both black and white, is the central tenet of the ANC policy.

Mandela understood that racism and racially discriminatory practices degraded and dehumanised both the oppressed and the oppressors. Thus our national liberation struggle was waged for the liberation of all South Africans, both black and white. The struggle was not against white people. It was against the apartheid system.

The strategic objective of this struggle was to create a non-racial, non-sexist, united, democratic and prosperous South Africa in which the value of every citizen is measured by our common humanity (Ubuntu/Botho) and in which every citizen works for the common good.

Mandela sought to establish a humanistic society in which there would be no domination of one race by another. In his own words, Mandela said:

"During my life I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I wish to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die".

The founders of our democracy were a visionary people.

In 1905, Pixley Isaka Ka Seme - convener of the founding conference of the ANC - embraced Dube's vision of a new Africa in his speech titled The Regeneration of Africa, today called the African Renaissance. In this speech he called for the creation of a unique civilisation for Africa and Africans.

In his opening address to the founding conference of the ANC, Seme called for the unity and cooperation of African people in defence of their civil and political rights. In a special message to the ANC consultative conference held in Kabwe, Zambia, Mandela said unity is the rock upon which the ANC was founded.

Mandela, like Chief Albert Luthuli, showed that African nationalism and the slogan Africa for Africans did not have racial connotation. African nationalism and its slogan were aimed at ending apartheid colonialism. They were not directed at white people.

Chief Albert Luthuli also showed that the unique civilisation for Africa and Africans will be based on unity in diversity underpinned by human values. Thus Mandela fought for the creation of cohesive, caring and sustainable communities.

As volunteer-in-chief during the defiance campaigns of the early fifties Mandela mobilised Africans, Whites, Coloureds and Indians into a single non-racial force that adopted the Freedom Charter. This historic document proclaimed that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, both black and white.

Armed with the democratic and humanist values contained in the Freedom Charter Mandela founded the New South Africa in 1994. Mandela is an embodiment of a catalogue of values that all of us must internalise and inculcate in the youth and children. These values are unity and cooperation; human solidarity; truthfulness; honesty; selfless service to the people; collective leadership; love for peace, harmony and development; love and protection of children, the elderly and people living with disability; and servant leadership.

The legacy of Nelson Mandela does not belong to the ANC alone. It belongs to all the people of South Africa, both black and white, united in our diversity.

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