I am an African

The South African people went to the polls this past Wednesday for the fourth time since 1994 and no surprise to anybody, on 9 May Jacob Zuma will be sworn in as the new President of South Africa. A new chapter has begun in the history of South Africa. What the story will tell is anybody's guess... we can only hope and pray.

I cannot close the previous chapter without honouring our previous President, Mr Thabo Mbeki,. (Not Mr Matlanthe, who was only a stand in for Jacob Zuma.) Of course I have not agreed with everything he said and did ("AIDS is not caused by HIV!") but I admired him for his gentlemanly ways and his eloquent and beautiful speeches. On 8 May 1996, before he became president of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki made a very special speech in Parliament and I want to share the opening part of it with you in his honour. Mr Mbeki, you will be missed by a great many people in this country and continent of ours.

(The complete speech is available on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWTixmmtamE for those who want to hear him or read the whole speech.)

I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land. My body has frozen in our frosts and in our latter day snows. It has thawed in the warmth of our sunshine and melted in the heat of the midday sun. The crack and the rumble of the summer thunders, lashed by startling lightening, have been a cause both of trembling and of hope. The fragrances of nature have been as pleasant to us as the sight of the wild blooms of the citizens of the veldt. The dramatic shapes of the Drakensberg, the soil-coloured waters of the Lekoa, iGqili noThukela, and the sands of the Kgalagadi, have all been panels of the set on the natural stage on which we act out the foolish deeds of the theatre of our day. At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito. A human presence among all these, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say -

"I am an African!"

PS: I can truly identify with his words - also with the rest of the speech. The photos were added by me to give emphasis to his words.


DUTA said...

Beautiful pictures and a beautiful speech. But why is the new President emphasizing his being an african? Was he accused of not being an authentic african?

Dina said...

Such strong and eloquent words(and photos)for such a strong and eloquent land.

A human kind of human said...

Hi Duta, Mr Mbeki is not the new president, he is the previous president. He was very involved in the African Renaissance concept and if you read the whole speech you will see that he defines all peoples of South Africa (a multi-racial and -cultured nation with a lot of negative baggage from the past) as African. I think what he is trying to encourage all "Africans", whatever their race or colour, to face and make peace with our history and to take ownership of our "Africaness" and to accept one another as fellow Africans. I only used the first part because it describes our country so beautifully.

Dina, thank you for visiting and I must confess, the photos are not my own, they are borrowed from other people.

DUTA said...


Jo said...

My mother loved South Africa, and I would love to visit there some day. You make it sound so wonderful, and I'm so glad to see that it is shaking off its baggage from the past.

They need to become more educated about HIV/AIDS, though. Too many people will suffer unnecessarily.

A human kind of human said...

Hi Jo, thanks for visiting. Unfortunately super-stition still plays a major part in the lives of Africans, especially those living in the rural areas. (Please remember, the spirits of the forefathers plays a huge role in their religious life, and who am I to critisise their religion?). Only education will improve their understanding of things like viruses, nutrition, etc. I have been told to my face that AIDS was spread amongst the blacks by the apartheid government to get rid of them and that they will believe inviruses if I show them one... and this by a semi-literate black woman.

As for Mbeki's remark, I suspect what he meant was that not only the HI Virus alone causes AIDS, but also the poor socio-economic situation of the very poor. (Then the media, as often happens, took the statement and twisted it to serve their own purposes). I understand what he was trying to say because millions of Blacks still live in abject poverty where they literally starve to death slowly. It is a dreadful situation and it will take many years and even more Rands to alleviate this problem.

Sorry, I'm making speeches again, but I hope it will teach you a little bit more of what is going on in this country.

Mallory said...

I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for all the kind comments you left on my blog. :)

I'm a little curious as to how you found my blog, but all friends are welcome!

A human kind of human said...

Hi Mallory, I found your blog through a comment you left on another blog. I really admire the maturity and strength that you radiate through your blog. Very few people, at sixteen years, could go through what you have been through and still see and enjoy and get excited about the positive things in your life - I know I couldn't. Please stay beautiful and enjoy your college. I'll be praying for you.

Verdant said...

I happened across the following by him:

"The happy reality in our country is that some of our best scientists are Afrikaner. Some of our best public administrators are Afrikaner. Some of our best political thinkers, businesspersons, health workers, journalists are Afrikaner. Some of our best and dedicated crime fighters are Afrikaner. Some of our most evocative poetry is in Afrikaans."

A human kind of human said...

Thank you for that Verdant. I think that a great many South Africans are missing him, not only I... especially now!