Address by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, on the occasion of the Africa Day gala dinner, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg
29 May 2010
Your Excellency, Dr Jean Ping
Members of Cabinet
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Representatives of Business
Ladies and gentlemen
It is a great honour and privilege to address you on the occasion of the celebration of Africa Day, one of the most important symbols of African unity.
Africa Day, 25 May, marks the anniversary of the birth of the organisation of the African unity, the precursor of the African Union, which carried on its shoulders the hopes and aspirations of the African people.
We should use this opportunity to reflect on Africa’s achievements, prospects and challenges that lie ahead.
When the African Union took over from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 2002, it reflected an understanding that Africa has to adapt to a complex and ever-changing environment.
It demonstrated leadership and foresight.
We can achieve the vision of a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa by continuing to draw strength from our diversity as the people of Africa.
We have indeed travelled far on the road towards the realisation of African unity.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
This year’s celebration is particularly special in that it takes place a mere twelve days before the kick-off of the FIFA World Cup.
This important event offers us an opportunity to showcase our African culture, history and heritage.
It is an opportunity for the world to experience our warmth and renowned hospitality.
As you would know, the African Union (AU) chose as the theme for this year’s celebrations: “Building and maintaining peace through sport in Africa”.
At the same time, the AU has declared 2010 as the Year of Peace and Security in Africa.
We need to find resonance between the ability of sport to unify a people and to establish the roots for peace and development.
This international event, to which all of us can rightly claim ownership, should be used to deepen our understanding of our shared cultures and ensure that dialogue and cooperation among Africans is promoted.
The South African experience has shown how sport is able to bridge the ethnic, social, cultural and religious divides.
When Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela lifted the Rugby World Cup trophy in 1995 and the African Cup of Nations trophy the following year our nation became one, confirming that we are a nation united in its diversity.
Madiba continues to be a pillar of strength and a source of inspiration for our national teams.
We have no doubt that his “magic” will see us progress in this tournament.
We hope that the honour and responsibility of hosting the FIFA World Cup will contribute to peace and development on our continent of Africa.
It is therefore important that Africa takes full advantage of the socio-economic opportunities presented by the hosting of this event on African soil.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We will continue to support the African Union to ensure that our work this year helps create a climate conducive to sustainable peace and security in Africa.
On 21 September, when we celebrate the International Day of Peace, it is our desire and hope to confirm to the world that peace is indeed possible in Africa.
The flame for peace has been lit, and we now have a collective responsibility to take forward the message it carries.
We are a continent with a very rich history of gallant freedom fighters and visionaries.
Writing to “The African Abroad” magazine of April 1906, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, one of the founding fathers of the African National Congress, said that a historian will one day “tell of a race whose onward tide was often swelled with tears, but refused to camp forever on the borders of the industrial world”.
It was to this African race that Seme set his pride “over and against a hostile public opinion”.
He noted that “the elevation and regeneration of this African race is evidently a part of the new order of things”.
Like arrows, Africans shall return to their Continent “to drive darkness from their land”.
Our political fore-bearers expect us to continue marching forward, regardless of any Afro-pessimism we may encounter.
We support the AU Commission Chairperson, Dr Jean Ping, who expressed the hope that 2010 will be the year for durable solutions and the culmination of processes begun to entrench peace and the safety and well-being of Africans.
In this year that the African Union has declared the “Year of Peace and Security in Africa”, we are called upon to redouble our efforts and our resolve in the resolution of conflicts, insecurities and instabilities that still plague large parts of our continent.
There is no denying the fact that every conflict and every humanitarian disaster delays the arrival of the day of our total socio-economic emancipation.
These ongoing human-made nightmares undermine our hope for a prosperous collective future.
Many countries on the African Continent remain underdeveloped, poverty is widespread, there is inadequate access to educational and health facilities, there are high levels of unemployment and many live in squalor.
Unequal global economic relations have deepened poverty and underdevelopment in African countries.
This has resulted in millions of people becoming desperate, hungry and angry, vulnerable and marginalised.
Patrice Lumumba captured the African challenge in a letter he wrote to his wife and children entitled “History will one day have its say”.
He said, “We need to accomplish the sacred task of reconstructing our independence and our sovereignty: for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.”
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The struggle for peace in Africa is a struggle for dignity, liberty and justice.
While the African Union has taken bold steps to address the sources of conflicts, more needs to be done to address the peace-making and peace-building processes within countries and regions.
Sport can contribute to this.
It is a medium through which goodwill is generated, trust and confidence built and respect gained.
Africa’s love for football is legendary and our great players are world renowned for their soccer prowess.
This in itself can be used to initiate grassroots efforts towards peace.
Playing friendly matches across borders can dispel myths and create healthy competition.
It can help unite countries embroiled in self-defeating conflict.
As Africans, we have a greater responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of our Continent and its people.
We need to support our brothers and sisters who have struggled and continue to struggle for the ideals of freedom, liberty and democracy.
We owe it to them to ensure that our efforts create a society where we will all feel safe to walk the streets and for our children to be able to play and dream of a prosperous future.
The year 2010 is a truly auspicious year, as we stand together with 14 African countries who are celebrating 50 years of freedom.
We have shared in their struggles and so shall we share in their celebrations.
We owe to those great leaders of our independence struggles to do everything we can to secure the future of the generations to come.
In a world fraught with challenges, we need new and innovative ways of bridging divides and fostering peace and development.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
As we converge here today, we need to be the midwives of a new beginning for Africa.
Our destiny and place in history has located us in an enviable position, where Africa will become the theatre of dreams for the FIFA World Cup and South Africa just a stage.
We wish to reiterate that the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament does not only belong to South Africa but to all of Africa.
We congratulate the five qualifying African nation, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Algeria and not forgetting the hosts, South Africa.
To all participating African countries, especially the players, they should know that they carry the hopes of all Africans on their shoulders.
South Africa is ready for that momentous kick-off in 12 days time.
In the words of Madiba:
“The time for the healing of wounds has come;
The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come;
The time to build is upon us
Let there be peace for all.”
Africa’s time has arrived.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
29 May 2010
Source: The Presidency (http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/)
Issued by: The Presidency
29 May 2010
[ Top ]