Remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza at the 39th King Silamba Annual Commemoration ceremony, KoMjekejeke Heritage Site, Walmansthal, Pretoria
Your Majesty King Makhosonke II Bayede Ngwenyama!
Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders
Minister in the Presidency for Women, Ms Bathabile Dlamini,
MEC’s for COGTA and other MEC’s present
Leadership from the ANC/COSATU/SACP Alliance
Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislators present
Representatives from the Royal families and Traditional Leadership of the Kingdom of Lesotho,
Kingdom of eSwatini,
Democratic Republic of Congo,
Republic of Ivory Coast
Republic of Zambia
Republic of Botswana
Republic of Zimbabwe
Representatives from Isizwe saMampondo
Mayors and Councillors
Isizwe saMaNdebele sonke!
Thank you for inviting us to join you in this momentous occasion, and to share with you just few words in this beautiful commemoration of King Silamba, at this place of heritage, KoMjekejeke.
Understanding the rich history and heritage of this place, I could not but feel humbled by the honour and privilege to say few words to you and to enjoy the beauty of the today’s proceedings with you - the inheritors of our history and heritage.
To join the list of luminaries, kings and queens, statesmen from as far afield as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and from the rest of our beautiful continent of Africa, is indeed a great honour. This is an experience that leaves one extremely proud to be an African.
As we know very well, this is a special heritage site that expresses everything about who we are as Africans. It is a repository of our pride and heritage, as well as the symbol of our titanic resistance against colonialism and cultural imperialism.
We are meeting at an important time in the evolution of our country’s history, as we continue to document the true history of our country and all the symbols of our heritage.
It is a time when our country is seized with the difficult exercise of balancing the old with the new. A time of tampering justice with fairness. A time of doing what is right to correct the wrongs of the past injustices. A time of moving our country towards creating a better life for all our people irrespective of their creed, culture and language.
Today, ours is a task of radically transforming our society in order to achieve a truly democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous South Africa. Ours is to move Africa towards unity beyond the colonial borders that were imposed on us.
For even as these borders exist in their current form, they cannot stop the movement of people and cross cultural exchanges. The people of our continent continue to integrate in their own way through music, sport, artistic expressions, business and through academic pursuits.
Just as our great forebears under the leadership of our kings and queens, joined forces and gave birth to the oldest liberation movement in the continent, the African National Congress, on this day as we are gathered here, let us draw pride and strength from this rich heritage of King Silamba.
As we do so, we must pause and honestly reflect on the costly journey we have travelled in ending colonialism, in attaining our freedom, and in preserving our heritage.
African kinship has always been central in that journey of decolonisation and destruction of the system of apartheid. For it is a system that consolidated their marginalisation from the centre of our body polity.
Chancellor Williams in his book titled The Destruction of Black Civilisation, makes a telling point on structure of government under kinship when he says that, “the voice of the king was in fact the voice of the people, without which he could not act on any matter of importance”.
It means the kings ran the affairs of the state in the interest of the people. That is what the post-colonial and post-apartheid state should be about - the advancement of the needs of our people.
We look into this past in a manner that we do, as a source of knowledge and thoughts in what needs to be done as we build together a nation that is embedded on the true values of humanity - true values of compassion for others - and one whose sole focus is on collective development of our country and continent.
We do so with a view that is shaped by a willingness and commitment of avoiding repeating the errors of history that divided us along ethnic, cultural, religious and colour lines. For that is largely what condemned the majority of us into bondage.
This is the sad past we have inherited as a result of colonial rule and apartheid. It is not the past we seek to celebrate and reform. Rather, it is the past we seek to dismantle in order to build a different and better world for our people and the future generations.
And so today, we remember the story and well-lived life of King Silamba, son of King Mdala with a view to carve out a nation modelled on equality and unity of all our people.
We do so as a recognition of the need to preserve our history, to tell our stories so that the young ones of today and future generations, can know and take pride in knowing that African civilisation did not start with the imposition of colonialism. The imprints of our civilisation is everywhere across the width and breadth of Africa.
King Silamba, like all other great African kings and queens, should be a guiding light to all of us in how we build a different society and world that is worthy of inheritance by our future generations.
As you all know the name KoMjekejeke came from Jekezela, which means to live in comfort and abundance.
This place is evidence that our people lived in abundance and comfort, not wanting to adopt the cultural norms of others, which may have been forced upon them by religion or the barrel of the gun.
As we learn from historians and anthropologists, names of places are a statement and symbol about the inhabitants of a geographic region.
But they are as also a statement about the victors and vanquished of history.
As Africans we know that our history glorifies the hunter with flowery tales of victory.
It favours the agility of lions while shaming those who have succumbed as victims and the vanquished.
Less is said about their bravery and valour, their stories of suffering, resilience and triumph.
Less is said about their ways of life and culture. Much is obliterated about their dispossession, pillaging, scorching and the tremendous human suffering fisted upon the native inhabitants of our lands.
Thus, this commemoration makes a significant re-statement of their history.
Even in the face of hardships and slow growth, across this beautiful continent of Africa, there is renewed energy and optimism that this is indeed our Century.
There is integration of our economies through the creation of a continental free trade area. The African Union is making progress in removing barriers to free movement of people, goods and services.
Here at home, we are steadfastly marching towards the return of the land to its rightful owners thereby opening greater opportunities for agricultural development, for decent human settlements, and for industrial development.
The resolution of the land question through well managed land reform process, will lead to equitable society that has greater opportunities for the creation of jobs and wealth for our people.
For more that 400 years, we have been a divided people without dignity. In other parts of our continent even after decades of independence, our people remain divided across ethnic lines, language, culture and religion.
In most times, these divisions have led to armed conflicts and killings that resulted in displacement of the vulnerable, majority of whom are women and children.
We have torn ourselves apart for far too long and without gain.
And so, this is the occasion for re-imagining our heritage from a humanist perspective in order to dig deep in what makes us a people with a view to build unity of renewed purpose.
Our gathering here today, makes a statement about justice, rehabilitation and reconciliation. It reshapes our identity. It helps us to move forward, together, as a people.
As we do so, it should not be lost on us that the challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment, is the greatest threat to our collective prosperity, peace and development.
Over the period of our democracy, great strides to correct the past have been made under the government of the African National Congress.
We have seen the restoration of the dignity of our traditional leaders and the affirmation of their role within a democratic state.
Today, we have in each of the spheres of our government, a House of Traditional Leaders that is empowered by legislation to channel the contributions of our leaders in the advancement of our nation and its civilisation.
We have seen great strides being made in developing rural areas that were neglected under apartheid. We now have decent roads and bridges that connect our communities and ease their movement.
Better health facilities and schools have been provided to make possible for an increased quality of life for our people. Homes have been electrified and access to water made possible.
In as much as we have made all these great strides, the depth of these development challenges as a result of the legacy of many years of under-development, remain to this day - stubborn.
We shall not relent. We shall not lose hope that a better South Africa and a better Africa for all our people remains possible. It is through unity that we can achieve collective development that will end poverty, inequality and unemployment in our country and continent.
Those who can work must work, and we must work to create jobs.
Our current challenges, enjoins all of us to stay on the path of unity. For it is in our unity that our heritage can be restored and be used as anchor for our development. It is through our rich heritage that we can expand economic opportunities and development by sharing with the world what we are made of.
It is our rich heritage that gives meaning to tourism potential and all economic value-chains linked to this sector. In doing so, we must think of protecting such heritage so that it is not exploited by others without benefitting its rightful owners.
The climb may be steep but not insurmountable. It is Nelson Mandela who taught us that as we finish the climb of one hill, many more remains ahead.
The government of the African National Congress will continue to give our people the necessary tools to use their heritage not just as means of preserving their history and humanity, but as means of livelihood.
We must all unite.
With those who preach unity we must serve.
With those who sow strife and division we must grow impatient.
We must be proud to hand over to future generations a country that works, an Africa that is at peace with itself, a people united and a South Africa that is alive with possibilities.
I thank you.