Here is some food for UBUNTU Thought:
African National Congress (The ANC) Reporting
DAKAR, Senegal 16 December 2004 Sapa-AP
2005: CRUNCH TIME FOR AFRICA'S PEACE DEALS
The coming year puts peace deals to the test in Africa's longest
and deadliest wars - as entrenched enemies from Sudan to Congo face
tension-raising deadlines to put recently made peace pledges into
As 2004 ended, two African nations stepped forward to show
laggards the way: Ghana and Niger, two nations ruled by military
strongmen and the AK-47 for decades, held elections with vigorous
turnouts and credible results.
In the West African nation of Ghana, jubilant citizens closed
the year dancing in the streets to celebrate a bloodless
presidential vote with a spectacular 83.2 percent turnout - with no
strongman commanding them to do so.
The war, peace, and politicking showed sub-Saharan Africa's
40-something republics still shaking off the outside influences -
colonial and Cold War - that had blocked peaceful democracy on much
of the continent for decades.
Perversely, the peace accords of 2004, 2003 and 2002 make 2005 a
year of enhanced risk as well as enhanced hope for much of Africa.
With the world's largest U.N. peace deployments on the ground to
quell major fighting, peace accords mandate 2005 elections in
several countries: Congo, Africa's third-largest nation, where a
1998-2002 civil war killed millions; neighboring Burundi, scene of
a linked conflict; Ivory Coast; and Liberia, finally freed of a
Cold War-created charismatic who fueled West Africa's wars for
nearly 15 years.
The risk is that combatants, faced with making good on their
grudging promises to share or yield power in elections, will opt to
return to full-scale fighting instead.
A 2004 peace accord mandates a different deadline for Sudan,
Africa's largest nation.
Under one north-south accord, Arab-dominated Khartoum must open
posts in its central government for rebels of the heavily Christian
south. The power-sharing was one object in a 21-year civil war.
The past year also saw separate, partial accords, in a newer and
now graver Sudanese civil war, in the western region of Darfur.
But there was no tension about whether the two sides in Darfur
would break the deals in 2005: they already did in 2004, repeatedly
violating cease-fire pledges with new attacks days or weeks within
The year saw Darfur emerge as one of the biggest blights on the
world conscience, with Sudan accused of unleashing warplanes and
camel- and horse-mounted Arab tribal fighters against hundreds of
villages of non-Arab farmers.
The raids killed countless villagers and drove 1.8 million from
their homes. The United Nations was moved to call it the world's
greatest humanitarian disaster. The United States called it
The last weeks of 2004 saw Sudan's government and Darfur rebels
in talks that were slated to hammer out a final peace deal, despite
heavy skepticism that either side planned to carry out their
pledges if international attention turned away.
U.N. investigators, meanwhile, closed 2004 probing whether the
genocide accusation was warranted, with a pronouncement expected in
the first weeks of 2005.
In southern Africa, parliamentary races in March mark Zimbabwe's
first major elections since 2002, when President Robert Mugabe won
re-election in a deeply flawed, widely disputed race.
Efforts continue in South Africa to get as many people as
possible on anti-retroviral drugs.
Africa's offshore oil boom, part of a worldwide scramble for
options to Middle East oil, stands to boom on in 2005- at a rate
that in 2004 catapulted people of one tiny, newly oil-rich African
backwater, Equatorial Guinea, to a percapita economic rank just two
spots behind prosperous Americans.
But again, only on paper. In practice, the majority of Africa's
oil-laden nations showed little sign of making good on promises to
share the wealth with their people.
@ ADDRESS BY MBEKI AT SALVOKOP
Issued by: Office of the Presidency
ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA, THABO MBEKI, AT
COMMEMORATION OF THE WEEK OF RECONCILIATION, FREEDOM PARK,
SALVOKOP, CITY OF TSHWANE, 16TH DECEMBER 2004.
Master of Ceremonies,
Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan,
Chairperson of the Freedom Park Board of Trustees, Getrude
CEO of the Freedom Park Trust, Dr. Wally Serote,
Members of the Board of Trustees,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Mayor of Tshwane, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We have gathered once more at this quiet place of contemplation
and remembrance - the Freedom Park - on this important day in our
national calendar, the Day of National Reconciliation, during the
year in which we celebrate a decade of freedom. It is indeed
fitting that we meet at this national shrine dedicated to our
heroes and heroines, whose seminal contribution to all of us is the
gift of freedom.
Commencing the journey of reconciliation in our country ten
years ago, President Mandela said during his inauguration as the
President of our Republic:
"The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to
bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is
Two years later, as we adopted the Constitution of our Republic
in 1996 we declared in its Preamble that:
"(We) adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic
so as to -
* Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based
on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
* Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which
government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is
equally protected by law;
* Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the
potential of each person; and
* Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its
rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.
As part of our efforts to respond to the call by President
Mandela that the time had come for healing the wounds and bridging
the chasms that divide us, as well as honour the constitutional
injunction to "heal the divisions of the past...", among other
things we established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to
assist our country to unearth the truth about the many human rights
violations that happened as our people engaged in the bitter
struggle to free our country from apartheid, to forgive the
perpetrators and offer some reparation to those who had been
The creation of this Freedom Park is in part a response to the
recommendations of the TRC, that we should retain the national
memory of our past and collectively honour those who fought and
sacrificed for our freedom.
When it has been built, it must be a tribute to the indomitable
human spirit displayed by millions of our people. It must be a
symbol of victory of peace over war, a celebration and
reaffirmation of our common humanity and human evolution, a shrine
that will constantly remind all future generations of their
obligation forever to avoid the depraved deeds that occurred in our
country because of human folly and greed.
In the past, this day, December 16, was observed as the Day of
the Covenant, celebrating the conflicts of the past, with their
results in terms of victors and the vanquished. Deliberately we
took the decision to keep December 16 as a public holiday, but
focused on reconciliation among those who had been enemies.
We sought to emphasise that among us there are no victors and
the vanquished, and that the triumph of a non-racial and non-sexist
democracy in our country constitutes an historic victory that
belongs to all of us, regardless of who fought on which side.
It was because we wanted to create the necessary space for all
our people, black and white, together to enjoy the fruits of this
common victory, together to use this victory as the base on which
to build a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it, that we
took the decision to respond to the conflicts of the past through
the TRC, rather than a process of retribution directed at settling
By this means we were making the pledge to ourselves that we
would not allow past hatreds and enmities to determine our future.
We were making the firm statement that while we will not forget the
past, nor abandon the task to address its legacy, we shall
nevertheless not allow ourselves to be imprisoned by that past.
To have done otherwise would have been to misuse the
possibilities presented by the present, by imposing historical
conflicts that cannot be undone, on a future we have the rare
possibility and obligation to define.
To have done otherwise would have been wilfully and recklessly
to surrender to the dictates of the ghosts of a past of whose
painful results we are painfully aware, of the extraordinary
opportunity we have, to be the architects of something new,
beautiful, noble and humane.
Firmly, we said - no to all that!
But there are others whose opinions we should respect, who have
thought that the forgiveness and the national reconciliation we
sought to achieve by engaging in the TRC processes was but an
exercise in delusion, a grossly misguided attempt to avoid what
would necessarily be an intense struggle between the new victors
and the newly vanquished, to exorcise the ghosts of the past.
One of these was the esteemed African thinker and writer, the
Nigerian, Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate for literature. In his book
reflecting on the work the TRC and the philosophy that informed
this effort, entitled "The Burden of Memory, the Muse of
Forgiveness", he has written:
"But will the South African doctrine work, ultimately? Will
society be truly purified as a result of this open articulation of
what is known? For even while we speak of 'revelation', it is only
revelation in concrete particulars, the ascription of faces to
deeds, admission by individual personae of roles within known
criminalities, affirmation by the already identified of what they
formally denied. Nothing, in reality, is new. The difference is
that knowledge is being shared, collectively, and entered formally
into the archives of that nation.
"So, back to the question, this procedural articulation of the
known, will it truly heal society? Will it achieve the
reconciliation that is the goal of the initiators of this heroic
(TRC) process? For it is heroic - let that value be frankly
attributed. Even those of us who, conceding our unsaintliness,
distance ourselves from the Christian - or indeed Buddhist
-beatitudes, do acknowledge that forgiveness is a value that if far
more humanly exacting than vengeance. And so - will this
undertaking truly 'reconcile' the warring tribes of that (South
African) community? My inclination is very much toward a negative
Perhaps Wole Soyinka is right that ten years into our democracy,
we too must honestly ask ourselves the question - but will the
South African doctrine work, ultimately? Has it worked?
Has our society been truly purified as a result of the open
articulation of what we knew about our past, thus achieving what he
called "the ascription of faces to deeds, admission by individual
personae of roles within known criminalities, affirmation by the
already identified of what they formally denied"?
Is it true that, in reality, we have achieved nothing that is
Has our undertaking truly to reconcile "the warring tribes of
(our) community" succeeded? Or should we repeat after Wole Soyinka
that our inclination too, is "very much toward a negative
Put simply, has our effort to achieve national reconciliation
failed! Were we wrong to have thought that "the warring (black and
white) tribes of our community" could be reconciled on the basis
that we should not build their common future on the basis of
defining some as victors and others as the vanquished?
Wole Soyinka was right that if our process of national
reconciliation consisted only of the "revelation (of known misdeeds
of the past) in concrete particulars, (and) the ascription of faces
to deeds" of gross human rights violations, "this procedural
articulation of the known" would not have served truly to heal our
But what serves truly to advance our society towards its
healing, towards bridging the chasms that divide us of which Nelson
Mandela spoke, is not merely what Soyinka called the "procedural
articulation of the known". That procedural articulation of the
known was a necessary part of the process of "healing the divisions
of the past", but not the alpha and the omega of our struggle for
The procedural articulation of the known through the TRC process
was but an element of a dream millions of our people share, to
create something that is new, beautiful, noble and humane. This is
a dream about building a new South Africa at peace with itself, a
new South Africa of reconciliation among "the warring tribes of
(our) community", a new South Africa that in its particular details
genuinely belongs to all who live in it, black and white.
41 years ago in 1963, on the occasion of the celebration of the
centenary of the Emancipation Proclamation that marked the end of
slavery in the United States, the great African American leader who
is our hero too, the Rev Martin Luther King Jr, spoke about his
dream for his people and his country, the United States of America.
With your permission, I would like to present to you some of
what he said, believing that his dream for his country and people
is the same dream we dream for our own country and people. He said:
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live
out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be
self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that
one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and
the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together
at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the
state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of
injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of
freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one
day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of
their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream
"I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose
governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of
interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a
situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to
join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together
as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that
one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain
shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the
crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord
shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our
hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this
faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone
of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling
discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together,
to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for
freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."
As he began his historic address, Martin Luther King Jr said the
Emancipation Proclamation a hundred year before "came as a joyous
daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years
later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not
Ten years into our own liberation, I am convinced we are
entitled to say something about our country that is different. I am
certain that we have every reason to contest Wole Soyinka's
"negative prognosis" about our country.
I have seen this with my own eyes that the sons and daughters of
those formerly oppressed and the sons and daughters of former
oppressors have been able to sit down together at a table of
brotherhood and sisterhood.
I have seen this with my own eyes that little black boys and
black girls have been able to join hands with little white boys and
white girls and walked together as sisters and brothers.
I know it as a fact that we have begun to transform the jangling
discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood and
I know it as a fact that we have begun to work together, to pray
together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom together,
knowing that the freedom we enjoy together is our only guarantee
that tomorrow the sun will continue to shine on all of us.
Because I have seen white South Africans and black South
Africans strive together to confront the legacy of a former "desert
state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression", to
use Martin Luther King's words, I know that we have begun the slow
and arduous task "to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of
Together we are witness to the ugly spectacle of humanity in
many parts of the world tearing itself apart in conflicts inspired
by racial, ethnic, religious and cultural identities.
We see violent and unnecessary deaths occur because many among
our own human species have found it too difficult to carry the
burden identified by Wole Soyinka, that forgiveness is a value that
if far more humanly exacting than vengeance.
Having seen all of this, surely all of us must agree that we
were right to choose the path of national reconciliation. Surely,
together we must say that our deeds have proved that Soyinka's
negative prognosis was wrong and that we were right to share the
dream that Martin Luther King Jr dreamt.
Standing in close proximity to the evolving story of a new
society in birth, it may be that we do not see what we have
achieved, that is the envy of all humanity. Because we know what we
must still do fully to restore the dignity of all our people, we
speak only of what we have as yet failed to achieve and therefore
beat our drums loudly to draw attention to the ugly remnants of the
legacy we inherited.
Speaking in celebration of the Centenary of the signing of the
Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, Martin
Luther King Jr said "One hundred years later, the Negro lives in a
lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material
prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing
in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in
his own land."
A decade after bringing into force our own Emancipation
Proclamation, we can make the claim that no South African is today
an exile in his or her own land. We have all become South African
again, no longer citizens of Bantustans, no longer temporary
sojourners or surplus people, no longer victims of a philosophy and
practice that disrespected the self-evident truth that all people
are born equal.
But, as honesty demands, we admit this everyday that millions in
our country of freedom find themselves marooned in lonely islands
of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity,
languishing in the corners of South African society.
As long as this persists, so long must we agree with Martin
Luther King Jr that with regard to many of our people, democratic
South Africa has still not honoured its promissory note to provide
a better life for all, that democratic South Africa has given
millions of black people "a bad cheque which has come back marked
'insufficient funds' ".
We meet here on our Day of National Reconciliation to recommit
ourselves to the goals of national unity and reconciliation and a
common patriotism. We meet to restate the pledge that we will
continue to work together, black and white, inspired by a common
patriotism, to honour the promissory note delivered by the
- to eradicate poverty in our country,
- to bridge the racial and gender divides created by our past,
- to translate reconciliation among ourselves into a shared
sense of common nationhood and a common effort to define the
content of our shared destiny,
- to sustain the miracle according to which we will realise our
dream that the seemingly impossible will happen, when one day every
valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low,
the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be
made straight, and our dear motherland will become what we are
striving to make of it.
We meet to commit ourselves to these objectives under the sad
circumstance that death has snatched from us an outstanding
compatriot, a creative spirit in our midst, a member of the Board
of Trustees of Freedom Park, an architect of the better future
towards which we strive, the outstanding architect Revel Fox.
I am privileged to extend to his family, friends and colleagues
in the important Freedom Park project the heartfelt condolences of
our Government, our people, as well as my own. Together we must
give the undertaking that we will do everything we can to help
realise his own vision of the South Africa of his dreams.
On this day, when we meet to dedicate ourselves to the twin
processes and objectives of national reconciliation and social
transformation, I am honoured to extend our Government's best
wishes to all our people as well as the season's message of peace,
prosperity, happiness and goodwill.
I am privileged to convey the same message to all our foreign
guests currently spending some time with us, including those who
are in our country to represent their governments, countries and
And let all of us pay particular care as we take to our roads,
to ensure that wherever we go, we Arrive Alive!
A Merry Christmas to everybody and a Happy New Year! Thank you!