Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Acting Executive Mayor of Tshwane
Representatives of the African Union Commission,
Distinguished delegates present,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Senior Government Officials
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen:
We gather here this afternoon to kick start the month long campaign of the Africa Month Cultural Festival Programme.
As we gather here, our country is celebrating 60 Years of the Freedom Charter- the people’s collective vision for the future.
As a country and her people we are indeed on course in creating a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society as envisioned in the Freedom Charter and our constitution. However we are the first to admit that more still needs to be done in the construction of this national democratic society.
Over the last few weeks we have witnessed incidents of major concern to the life of our South African society.
We cannot claim to be truly free when insidious and blatant racism still exist in our society; we cannot claim to be truly free when racism still rears its ugly head in our institutions of higher learning, in the media, in the private and public sectors, in the boardrooms and with the attacks on foreign nationals that we observed in some communities in recent weeks
As South Africans, we should refuse to be part of the unnecessary attacks on innocent people, merely because they happen to be foreigners.
We know very well that it is incorrect to argue, as some among us do, that crime is committed mainly by non-South Africans. Even if we suspect or have evidence that some people are engaged in crime, we should work with the police so that these criminals are arrested.
This applies equally to South Africans and non-South Africans because a criminal is a criminal, irrespective of nationality, and should be made to face the full might of the law. If indeed some foreigners are involved in crime, we cannot mete out collective punishment to all foreigners because of the criminal deeds of the bad few individuals.
Our founding vision as eloquently stated in freedom charter “there shall be peace and friendship”.
It further says “South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations. South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and settlement of all international disputes by negotiations – not war”.
As we celebrate our 21 years of freedom and democracy, we wish to acknowledge the important role that was played by the African people in the struggle for democracy and liberation in South Africa.
We are also thankful of the support that was provided by the continent and world.
Today’s programme is an expression of our cultural diversity and unity. It has become a voice, movement and expression of the hopes for a better continent; a better world.
Few will deny that arts, culture and heritage are a great beacon of light and hope that can help human kind transcend all colonial-made and apartheid created barriers to overcome inequality, prejudice and stereotypes.
Thus the launch of Africa Month is a new beginning that will elevate the role of arts, culture and heritage sector to contribute to economic development and as a result, nation building and social cohesion.
Above all, this carnival contributes to our efforts to create a world with a human face.
In its own way, this carnival is a testament to how we have crossed man-made borders. In fact, it has destroyed barriers that are the legacy of slavery and colonialism of a special type.
We are very happy and proud that Africa Month has finally come to acknowledge and recognise its importance.
This is a giant stride into the future where the carnival continues to bring down the walls of exclusion. This is a significant milestone.
Our diversity in this country has been validated and affirmed through the celebration of this day.
We remember and salute the spirit and values carried by artists and designers who are part of the event today.
As government, we have provided resources to create opportunities and platforms for artists to promote unity in diversity among all citizens of this country.
For us, we believe this carnival is a vehicle to bring people from diverse backgrounds and countries together.
In fact, it confirms our belief and convictions enshrined in constitution that South Africa belongs to all who live in it black and white.
We are committed to create an enabling environment for audiences to witness and experience the talent and artistry of our creative design maestros playing alongside their continental counterpart.
Above all, we have supported special carnival to stimulate the creative sector as business enterprises.
It has the power and potential to provide opportunities to our artists to articulate artistic self-expression.
Few will doubt that this parade does contribute to the promotion of economic growth and development. This is not entertainment for its own sake. It is to define new SA according to the constitution.
As we celebrate our 21st anniversary of freedom and democracy, we are proud that you have joined the DAC in promotion of unity and on people of SA and neighbouring states/countries.
This inspiration has made us decide to dedicate the entire month of May in 2015 to Africa Month henceforward.
This will be a month long festival and conference that will feature various arts and culture disciplines.
h. Visual Arts
i. Panel Discussions and
j. Food Culture amongst others.
Our vision is to take the celebration of Africa Day to greater heights. This is about Africa and all her people.
God bless Africa, Her sons and daughters!
I thank you.
SOURCE: South African Official News