Freedom Park Chief Executive Officer, Ms J. Mofumadi
Luthuli Museum Council Member, Mr. Tsematse Tsematse
National Heritage Monument Representatives
The Tambo and Luthuli Families
Officials from the Provincial Departments of Education
Ladies and Gentlemen
Programme Director; it gives me great pleasure and immense pride to be standing here today and addressing you on this auspicious occasion, namely the finals of the 2018 iNkosi Albert Luthuli Oral History Competition.
Of course the competition is named after one of our own, the doyen of freedom and justice, so aptly named iNkosi Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli. The year 2018 marks exactly 51 years since he was killed in a freak train accident at his home in Groutville on July 21, 1967 in mysterious circumstances. The occasion of today gives us an opportunity as a nation to reflect on the contributions, to the national cause, made by this true son of the soil. iNkosi Luthuli was a true patriot who served the people of South Africa and world with distinction. This is an opportunity for all of us to pay tribute to, and sustain the memory of the finest and greatest son of Africa. Today, we remember with glee and celebrate the life and legacy of the country's liberation Struggle stalwart and former President of the governing party, the African National Congress, iNkosi Albert Luthuli.
Programme Director, iNkosi Luthuli influenced many who were privileged to hear his profound messages. One of these was the Norwegian newspaper, which, after listening to him, reported then that: "We have suddenly begun to feel Africa`s nearness and greatness.
In the millions of huts of corrugated iron, mud and straw, lives a force which can make the world richer [namely iNkosi Luthuli], the Zulu chieftain and schoolteacher, is an exceptional man. But in his words, his voice, his smile, his strength, his spontaneity a whole continent speaks." (PXIX, Let My People Go, Albert Luthuli)
It should be noted for posterity that iNkosi Albert Luthuli was the first African to be awarded the coveted Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech iNkosi Luthuli said that he considered the award, “a recognition of the sacrifices made by the peoples of all races in South Africa particularly the African people who have endured and suffered so much for so long." The chairperson of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Gunnar Jahn, praised iNkosi Luthuli for his commitment to the peaceful struggle for human rights in South Africa.
However, the apartheid regime here at home was having none of it. History records that after the announcement of iNkosi Albert Luthuli being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the then apartheid Minister of Justice, John Vorster, grudgingly allowed iNkosi Luthuli to travel to Norway, although he was banned person. True to form, Vorster said he allowed him to travel, "notwithstanding the fact that the government fully realises that the award was not made on merit".
The irony of course is that Mr. Vorster and his ilk presided over the most brutal colonial regime of the 20th century. The same apartheid regime was condemned around the world, leading to the 1966 resolution of the United Nations’ General Assembly which labelled, apartheid, “as a crime against humanity.”
Programme Director; we heartily thank the learners and educators who dutifully heeded the call to participate in the 2018 iNkosi Albert Luthuli Oral History Programme. You’re on the right side of history. I hope that this has been an exciting and intellectually stimulating experience, telling the untold stories based on your experiences and encounter with the various primary and secondary sources.
As we know, oral history gets learners, "to develop an understanding, not only of the broad history of South Africa, but also of the richness of the histories of their local communities.”
Educationalists have rightly concluded that the study of oral history gives us unique insights into, "the personal thoughts of thousands of individuals from all walks of life.” By its very nature, oral history challenges learners to go beyond an understanding of history as a series of facts and figures.
It also helps the development of, "imperative research skills" such as attention to detail and critical thinking. This means learning how to use logic and reason, "to analyse and sift out what is useful."
I consider it an honour and a privilege for the Basic Education Department (DBE) to have partnered with Freedom Park and Luthuli Museum in hosting this prestigious initiative. This Programme reminds all of us of the importance of:-
- A sense of belonging for all our learners, educators and parents
- A broadly shared set of public values and norms for social conduct
- Appreciating our diverse cultures, languages and religions
- Respect and tolerance for political and ideological differences
- A high level of awareness of the rights and obligations of citizens
- A proud consciousness of being South African
The social dimension and benefits of education are increasingly being recognized as an important contributor in promoting learner wellbeing, national unity and solidarity among the different social groups in a country.
The entire society relies on the public schooling system to provide the protective barriers, and to inculcate in learners the values of responsible citizenship based on human rights culture and social justice. The ultimate goal is the creation of a socially cohesive South Africa that promotes a sense of common citizenship with enduring values of our Constitution.
Programme Director, this is an important programme where our tale as a people is presented in the voices of the young patriots. We cannot over-emphasis the crucial role that our forebears played in contributing towards building the future of our children and development of our society as we know it today. It is again an important gathering not only for the learners and educators that are gathered here today but for all South Africans throughout the entire nation. We extend a word of gratitude to all learners and teachers from school level up to the district, provincial and national levels for making this event a success.
The iNkosi Albert Luthuli Oral History Programme takes place at an opportune time when our country marks the centenary of both the former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and uMama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu affectionately known as Ma Sisulu. The centenary celebrations seek to illuminate the role played by our local heroes and heroines at home and abroad.
Without canonizing Madiba, Programme Director; we safely say he was and remains the finest son of the African soil. Madiba was a member and leader of the African National Congress. He dedicated his life to the struggle for the liberation of his people and the people of the world. Madiba’s humility, compassion and humanity earned him the love and respect of the people of South Africa, Africa and the world. His abiding vision was for a society where no person was exploited, oppressed or despised by another.
His life was dedicated to the building of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa and a just world order.
It was this selfless service, Programme Director, that earned him the recognition as a global statesman and the many accolades bestowed upon him including the esteemed Isithwalandwe- the highest honour that can be bestowed on the ANC leader, Member of the Order of Mapungubwe and the Nobel Peace Prize amongst many others.
Equally, as a country, we celebrate the life and times of Ma Sisulu. Ma Sisulu comes from that rare breed of freedom fighters of the 20th century. Ma Sisulu played a pivotal role in guiding South Africa from the shackles of apartheid to a non-racial and constitutional democracy. She did so as a stalwart of the anti-apartheid Struggle, a poster girl for non-sexism and women emancipation. Thus, she came to embody the struggle for justice beyond our borders.
Mama Sisulu’s example, dear South Africans, of dedication to her family and nation, is unparalleled in the annals of our history. We should as a nation say to thank you to Ma Sisulu and her family for teaching us many things but most importantly, the meaning of love, of service to humanity and of courage in the face of adversity.
As South Africans, we owe it to this pedigree of revolutionaries who defined the course and tempo of our struggle. Indeed, we can without any equivocation say that as South Africans, we today enjoy the freedom and democracy because of her selfless contribution.
As a country at the crossroads today, we must be encouraged to follow her wider example of public service in return for freedom not personal gain and/or glory.
Hence, in his eulogy at the funeral service of Ma Sisulu, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said, she was, “a woman of enormous principles, of enormous moral strength. I must say, I am still in awe of her. Albertina Sisulu was a struggle icon from a struggle icon family. She was a fighter for family and women's rights and indeed the rights of all South Africans.”
In its announcement of Ma Sisulu’s passing her party, the African National Congress (ANC) said, she died after, “a fulfilling life as a people's servant coupled with her unwavering commitment and leadership to the liberation of our people. The ANC added: “Ma Sisulu epitomized the struggles of the poor, the women and the disenfranchised.”
Through her remarkable life and outstanding contribution, she defined what it means to be a freedom fighter, a leader and a diligent and disciplined servant of the people.
Through her leadership, she embodied the fundamental link between national liberation and gender emancipation. As we mark her centenary, we reaffirm that no liberation can be complete and no nation can be free until its women are free.
Programme Director; as participants of this programme you have surely taken the baton and continue the race by sacrificing your free time with your family and friends to immerse yourselves in your projects and ensure that they are completed to the highest quality. iNkosi Luthuli would be exceptionally proud that as educators you have learnt from him and found ways in which his ideals and values can find a practical expression in our day to day lives.
I am quite certain that our freedom fighters of yesteryear would equally be proud of you for not merely participating in this programme for the purpose of winning, but to be a genuine service to your communities, schools and country.
I cannot thank you all enough for the tremendous effort in putting your research projects together. It would, of course, be remiss of me not to make a special mention of the many educators in your midst, who gave so much of themselves, in assisting you with your projects.
We also extend our gratitude to all district and provincial coordinators who passionately cascaded the information down to schools to ensure a mass participation in this programme. Your passion for this programme on an annual basis is evident in the level of projects received and for that we applaud you.
While we will celebrate our top learners here today, I implore all of you to count yourselves in as winners – all of you, without exception.
In conclusion, I congratulate all of you for participating in this great partnership to honour one of our own iNkosi Albert Luthuli. Congratulations again to all the winners.
I thank you.