- Press Statements
- 2010 NGC
- National Congresses
Our national duty to renew the ANC`s democratic mandate!
30 August 1999
"For, let it not be said Thabai dragged to shame the names of the sons she lost in war. No. We must raise them - even from the dead - to share it with us. Our people, is there a song sweeter than that of freedom ? Of a truth, we have waited for it many a sleepless night. Those who have gone before us, those of us spared to see the sun today, and even those to be born tomorrow, must join in the feast".
These words, of wisdom and conviction, uttered by a veteran of the Kenyan liberation struggle in Ngugi Wa Thiong`o`s "A grain of Wheat", express firmly the obligation of the South African youth themselves towa African youth themselves towards our freedom.
At one stage, it is a call to honour them for their effort, these who died so that we may be free, and never to drag their names to shame; to raise them, even from the dead, to share with us this song of freedom so sweet. Indeed, to join with us in this feast of freedom - these departed, those of us spared to see the bright and warm sun today, and even those to be born tomorrow!
And, yet at another stage, this beckons for us at least to remember that we are free today because others before us sowed the seeds of our freedom, many with their own lives; and that this freedom is a treasure not to be taken for granted, as if it was some manna or a gift from the kind and benevolent apartheid architects.
It was a result of conscious, long, bitter and very painful struggle, the end result of which must be the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united society, where we would have succeeded in, together, fighting for change, and creating a better life for all.
The point being made here is that the struggle for national liberation is not over. The historic injustice which is the cause of the national grievance of our people still persists, characterised by the vast social and economic disparities. These disparities continue to be the defining parameter for our social order, defining the relations between race and poverty.
The national question still persists in ouists in our social motion, suggesting that the struggle for the national liberation of the black people in general, and the Africans in particular itself still persists. The genuine social and economic emancipation of these people remains an outstanding debt that we owe the imperative to transform our society.
The older generations have played their part in bringing South Africa to this stage. At best, they have laid the foundations for a successful transformation of this country towards non-racialism, non-sexism, democracy and unity.
But, they must now pass the custody of so mighty a task to the younger generation which, as Franz Fanon states, must define its mission which it must either fulfil or betray.
Perhaps, it is high time that our generation also openly, and in the face of our whole country, published our views and aims, and defined the mission that we want to fulfil.
I suppose that what we will boldly pronounce is that our mission is to fulfil these national ideals of our people - to accomplish the struggle to create this new non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united society where there will be a better life for all and to live in that new society. And, this is a task that we must accomplish ourselves in our lifetime, and that we cannot delegate to anyone else, neither to the old nor the coming generations.
This being our mission, it would be completely wrong then for today`s youth to de-polo de-politicise, to decide that it was now time to forget the past, and only concentrate on today and tomorrow.
It would be irresponsible to forget the struggle of the past; and the reasons it assumed the character that it did; and set itself the goals it did.
This is so because, as ANC President Thabo Mbeki somewhere says, if it is true that `out of nothing, nothing comes`, then it must be true that today draws its first impulse, and bears the birthmarks of yesterday; and tomorrow bears the birthmarks of today, its yesterday.
Accordingly, no knew society grows out of a sheer desire of newer generations to simply forget the past and move on with the present and the future, no matter how strong their conviction may be. All societies reflect, in their social motion, their past heritage, whether they like that past or not.
For that reason, we, as a generation existing during this transition, ought to make these huge sacrifices that will create solid and firm birthmarks for the future, so that those that inherit our today, their past, will continue the task of building a giant future for themselves on solid ground.
We cannot bequeath them a house built on sand!
And, so again, we cannot take our freedom for granted. Those that exhort us to forget the past, to forget that the demons we are trying to exorcise arise, not from this transition period, but from the past of apartheid-colonialism,colonialism, are asking that we forget that we were once, ourselves, oppressed.
If we forgot as asked, will we then be able to find an ever-lasting cure to our social ills, indeed to develop preventive measures for a return to that old and painful past ?
What is the agenda of those that exhort us to forget the past; that we were once oppressed, debased and dehumanised; that the basic cause of the disadvantage we still suffer is that oppression, perched in our past ? That all the ills we face today in our society bear the direct birthmarks of our past ?
Why is it that these who ask this of us are those that are privileged and advantaged ? It appears to me that if we succumbed to this request, we will have ourselves conspired to allay the guilt conscience of those that gained their advantage at our expense.
Of course, if we forgot the past, we will have chosen to forget, at the same time, the names of the sons South Africa lost in war. Thus would we have conspired to drag their names to shame, not to raise them from the dead to join the feast of freedom so sweet; indeed to turn our backs from the bright and warm rising sun of freedom!
What this means is that the youth need to respond with urgency to this single greatest challenge that we face this year; that of the second democratic elections. Taking place on the eve of the new century and millennium, just when President Mandela just hand over his bater his baton to the younger Mbeki, these elections shall betoken the change of the seasons.
In a very real way, therefore, they must open the gateway for our people to enter the new millennium firmly entrenched on the path towards the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united South Africa.
Accordingly, they are about carrying forth the programme of reconstruction and development, consolidating the foundation for a better life already laid during these first five years of transition.
Surely, therefore, the youth will want to treat these elections as our national duty, as an opportunity for us to carry forward the vision we uphold and strive for the future we desire for our country, ourselves, our children and grandchildren.
Precisely because we do not want to inherit a wasteland, precisely for that reason must we actively participateticipate, today, in the construction of this future premised on our very vision.
This we should do mindful of the fact that this future is not some period somewhere in the distant horizon, it is what we are building now, what we are already interacting with.
Accordingly, we must place this future firmly in our hands and work responsibly to fulfil the destiny of our country.
Thus would we have rising to the call of our destiny, to fulfil our mission!
Consequently, I am sure that youth will then not find it difficult to get out on June 2 and, without persuasion, go to vote.
For the ANC, may be!
Not because it promises you this and that in its manifesto, but, more importantly, because it is our national duty, an inherent part of fulfilling our mission and creating a future of our desires!