Keynote address by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Edna Molewa on the occasion of the opening of Charlotte Manye Balm in Gilead centre, Kraaifontein, Cape Town
29 May 2010
Master of Ceremonies,
Reverend Gertrude Komani
Board and staff members of the Charlotte Manye Balm in Gilead Centre; Church elders
I would like, first of all, to thank the Almighty God who has given us this opportunity to grace this auspicious occasion of the opening of Charlotte Manye’s Balm in Gilead Centre. I have looked forward to this momentous occasion with great expectation and excitement because Charlotte Manye-Maxeke has made an invaluable contribution to the struggle against the system of apartheid.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge the remarkable service that you render to your congregation and the Kraaifontein community. My prayer is that you will continue to be of even greater service to this community and the surrounding areas.
When a powerful partner such as yourselves calls on us we have no alternative but to heed your divine calling because it could well be that it is a call from the Almighty himself therefore we should avail ourselves. We have no alternative but to heed your call because South Africa is free today because of the invaluable contribution made by the church in the struggle against the system of apartheid.
The struggle against apartheid produced many courageous Christian leaders and activists who were at the forefront of our liberation movement the likes of John Langalibalele Dube, Sister Bernard Ncube, Dr Stanley Mogoba, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Oom Beyers Naude, Arch Bishop Tutu and Father Trevor Huddleston to name but a few. Many Christians, leaders and ordinary people, made enormous sacrifices and paid with their lives so that this country could be free.
All of us will forever be indebted to these and many other heroes and heroines of the struggle for the freedom, democracy and justice we enjoy today. In speaking to you today, I also acknowledge the enormous contribution of South African churches and church communities throughout our nation's history.
In his address at a memorial service for Father Trevor Huddleston, former President uTata Nelson Mandela had this to say:
“As religious organisations became an indispensable part of our struggle for freedom so too do we need them now to be actively engaged in the rebuilding of our society, strengthened by the new unity within and between religions which liberation has made possible.”
I am pleased that the AME Church has long heeded this call. It is therefore with special humility that I join here today to celebrate the opening of Charlotte Manye Balm in Gilead Centre. In Charlotte Manye we see exemplified in the most concrete way the contribution that religion has made to our liberation.
I recall with deep appreciation Charlotte Manye’s invaluable contribution to the struggle for liberation in our country. Her leadership on development has been a beacon of hope. Her sense of purpose and invaluable efforts to strengthen the role of the Church in the pursuit of development has brought great benefit to our nation and its people.
The virtues she embodies should be a beacon for us all: especially the commitment she brought to the fight for liberation during the dark years of apartheid. Dr Xuma, the former President of the African National Congress described Charlotte Manye-Maxeke as the “mother of African freedom in South Africa.”
We cannot forget Charlotte Manye’ s contribution to justice, democracy and freedom, at a time when basic human rights were being denied most South Africans by the most tyrannical regime in our history. Thus, whenever an opportunity such as this presents itself to us to speak about Charlotte Manye’s contribution to freedom which we enjoy today in this country, we try not to let it slip through our fingers.
It is fitting that we honour her memory and I wholeheartedly salute the efforts of the African Methodist Episcopal Church for continuing to honour her legacy. Since its inception, the AME Church has been at the frontline of national development, reconciliation and unity, and our government is grateful for that.
I therefore did not think twice when I received the invitation to join you here today. I have no doubt that your continued contribution to community development initiatives will go a long way towards sowing the seeds of hope and giving children a successful future, just as Charlotte Maxeke would have wished.
Fellow Christians, as we are all aware, we are living in times when we are faced with many social, economic and political challenges. I am therefore encouraged to note that the AME Church has continued to play an important role in addressing some of these challenges. I appreciate the contribution of the AME Church and wish to reaffirm our government’s commitment to forging an even stronger partnership with the faith-based organisations (FBO) in our efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous nation.
Indeed, I take this opportunity to acknowledge the pastoral and socio-economic activities that this centre continues to undertake in the informal and vulnerable communities in and around Kraaifontein. I have noted with considerable pride that this centre provides essential services in the important areas of child care and protection, education, health, as well as sports and recreation.
Ladies and gentlemen, poverty, substance abuse, HIV and AIDS, teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse and violence against women and children, and a lack of moral guidance and values particularly among young people, are just some of the serious social ills facing our country today.
Our government is working hard to address these issues. But the challenges we face today are simply too big for government to solve alone. These challenges require a concerted effort by all sectors of our society so that the welfare of our people continues to improve. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach and the solution lies in us working together.
To address the challenges of the 21st century, our government is committed to work together with the whole community to tackle the difficult social problems that we confront. Churches and faith-based organisations are among our most important partners in that challenge.
And your work will continue to be of great importance as we confront the challenges that lie ahead. The Department of Social Development greatly values the contribution of the nation's churches and faith-based organisations, and we look forward to continuing to build stronger partnerships in the years to come.
Fellow Christians, Mother Theresa once said, “I know that what I do is only a small drop in the ocean but it is a drop.” I hope that this centre will add a few drops to the good work that is occurring throughout our country. I appeal to you to continue working with us and to give your utmost best for the future success of our communities and the country as a whole.
While we are facing a variety of challenges, we must also bear in mind that we are doing well in many other areas. We are, for example, making progress in addressing key challenges facing our country including building the infrastructure needed to enhance job creation for our youth and addressing the poverty situation in the country. Moreover, our government is fully committed to implementing socio-economic programmes that will set this country on a positive developmental trajectory.
Faith based organisations should be at the forefront of these efforts to foster growth and development. This is the time for the church to take up its frontline role in development by empowering our people to take advantage of many opportunities arising in our country. In doing so, let the voice of the faith based organisations be one that brings South Africans together and offer practical solutions to the challenges that our country faces.
In his address to the National Interfaith Leader Summit held in Kempton Park on the 27th in 2008 President Zuma re-affirmed our government’s commitment to work with faith based organisations when he said:
"We see a critical role for religious bodies in providing social education and to help us build a caring society. From their inception religious institutions played both a spiritual support and developmental role”.
This week we observe the Child Protection Week. The theme for this year's campaign is 'caring communities protect children’. While raising awareness to the issue of child abuse, neglect and exploitation, the campaign aims to mobilise all sectors of the South African society to protect children.
As government we call on all South Africans to support the campaign by wearing a Green. As you do so, we ask you to reflect deeply on what it means for you and what steps you will take individually and collectively to end child abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Yesterday I visited three child headed households in Nyanga and I was moved to tears by the conditions in which they live. I would like to call on churches and communities to find ways of creating safety nets to help children in distress. We can do this by caring for children, as family members or relatives, creating community based structures such as this centre, which enable children to be brought up in familiar surroundings, economically empowering care givers, adopting orphans and vulnerable children or by becoming foster parents.
We must make our communities a safe place for our children. Working together in partnership and in coalitions we can ensure that no child becomes a victim of abuse, neglect and exploitation. I call on you members of the AME Church today to use your influence, and all the resources at your disposal, to inspire and encourage other parents. Show them, by your good works and example, how to guide and lead their children so that they become healthy, well-adjusted and productive citizens, and good parents of the future.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope this centre will become an integral part of the community where we all share and work together. I call upon each and every individual in the Kraaifontein community to support the work of this centre. This initiative deserves our greater support for the critical social role it plays in the Kraaifontein community.
I therefore would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the management and staff of Charlotte Manye Balm in Gilead Centre for your good work. I know that you have given unselfishly your time and energies sometimes with very little or nothing in remuneration. Nangomso ni nga dinwa. For me your work is a demonstration of what we can achieve when we are united in purpose and action. Together we can make meaningful and life-changing contributions towards the well-being and upliftment of our communities.
Ladies and gentlemen join me as we give them a special applause.
As we celebrate the opening of Charlotte Manye Balm in Gilead Centre today we can all draw inspiration from her courageous life. I am sure there are valuable lessons we can all learn from her exceptional leadership and steadfast belief that the church’s calling is to fulfil the gospel of Jesus Christ by identifying with the poor. May the spirit of the Almighty God continue to bless you on this noble mission of building the South African communities.
Finally, I call upon the AME Church to continue praying so that we can have a successful FIFA World Cup.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Social Development
29 May 2010
Source: Department of Social Development (http://www.dsd.gov.za)
Issued by: Department of Social Development
29 May 2010
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