Statement at The Millennium 2000 Media
Launch, 3 September 1999
Master of Ceremonies
The door into another millennium is about to open.
As it does, we are called upon to think up signs to
guide us along the road to the future, to sketch a landscape
in which to act out our collective dream and to fabricate
a plan to deliver us from the cons equences of our human
We are proud to say that, as a people, at the foot
of the African continent, we are now full participants
in the affairs of the human race.
We have begun to emerge, as if in tandem with the new
millennium, into a nation confident of itself, aware
of its immense possibilities and prepared to do extraordinary
things to attain the goal that comes from creating a
better quality of life for all.
Thus it is fitting that the Millennium 2000 Trust in
partnership with the SABC is spearheading millennial
activities and celebrations at this pivotal point in
our history to showcase the resilience, talents and
cultures of the people of our country and our continent.
We are moving into a century in which our priorities
must be an end to the poverty of our people, a century
in which the divisions of the past must truly cease
As we reconstruct South Africa and reclaim the whole
country for all, we break down all the divisions and
attitudes of the past, freeing everyone from the last
vestiges of oppression.
The emerging century must be a century of the African
peoples, working together building continental unity.
For it is only as we strive towards this unity as the
people of the continent that we will release our energies
enabling us to create something that is truly great.
It is our task to make the most of our freedom, to
entrench it in our new epoch as a fundamental and a
permanent feature of our very existence.
It is our task as part of the continental quest to
continue to work for democracy in the next century,
ensuring that peace and stability prevail throughout
the length and breadth of this continent.
We are pleased that the Millennium 2000 Trust and the
SABC have forged a national, regional and continental
perspective in their vision of the celebrations and
the contents of the exciting package of events they
are going to present.
That can serve not only to imprint the memory of this
moment on all who live through it, and emphatically
to make the point that the struggle against underdevelopment,
for emancipation, for the renewal of the South African
people is inextricably bound with the fate of our region,
our continent and the downtrodden of the earth.
Master of Ceremonies,
The challenge facing all sectors of societies: government,
artists, historians, educationists, intellectuals, non-governmental
organisations, etc. is to contribute to a complete and
rounded picture of the millennium celebrations. Certainly
that complete an d rounded perspective cannot be contained
only in political speeches, song, dance, poetry and
in the construction of monuments.
An integral element of the celebration is that we should
feel the greater need, now more than before, to educate
ourselves and the world about what amalgam of historical
events has given birth to our collective human experience.
It is only by understanding this that we can be forewarned
and forearmed about the challenges that lie ahead in
our effort to construct a better world. Only this experience
can prepare us to be a nation of sages, statesmen and
stateswomen who can inspire o thers and help solve problems
besetting our world.
Through the modern mass media, the world is given minute
by minute accounts of the pogroms in Kosovo, the calamity
of the earth quake in Turkey, the inferno of the air
crash in Buenos Aires, the incessant rattle of the gun
fire in the Congo Brazzaville and the human misery in
the Cape Flats left by the vicious whirl of the tornado.
All these things are an unfortunate part of experience.
More than ever before, we become aware of the tragedies
of our times, the horrors of conflict, the extent of
suffering, and the reality of our common destiny.
With this daily bombardment of images from all over
the globe, there may be those among us who would rather
forget the reasons for the suffering and how to end
that suffering. There may also be those who may feel
numbed and helpless and rather wish to blot out what
they have seen. We believe that instead of succumbing
to the temptation of switching channels, instead of
thinking only of ourselves, we can and must do all we
can to make our world a better place in which to live.
We need to educate ourselves about our own national
history. We need to educate ourselves about the reality
that we come from centuries of dispossession and resistance,
we come from the history of Jan van Riebeeck, Isandlwana,
of e-Ncome, of the Anglo-Boer War, of the Voortrekkers,
of Bambatha, of February 2nd 1990, of April 1994.
This might be a historical tapestry painted with blood
and tears of grief, wines and tears of victory, but
it remains still the full canvas of our journey over
The challenge to our communicators, our artists, our
linguists, is to ensure that we celebrate in all our
languages and develop ways in which our languages can,
through the process, further grow and flourish so that
our experience can be recorded in many d ifferent ways,
many different voices, contributing to a national convention
without anyone of us feeling we are not part of the
Master of Ceremonies,
I thank you for the opportunity to be here at the SABC
to help give meaning to the Media Launch and help take
these events closer to the imagination of the people.
This media launch should help to give added impetus
to a sustained campaign of education and information.
We make the point about a sustained campaign partly
because, in as much as the year 2000 is unmistakably
the target year of major celebrations, the fact is that
the calendar millennium will in reality begin on 1 January
This reality presents us with an extended period of
celebration and education.
We also take this opportunity to call upon the business
sector to support the effort of the South African Millennium
Trust and the SABC to make this period a memorable time
to the people of our country.
The sustained period of partnership between the business
sector and the Millennium Trust is rich with possibilities
for everybody who will join the partnership.
We are also pleased that this initiative will help,
among other things, to raise resources in order to attend
to the plight of, and to empower the children and the
disabled as well as to preserve our heritage, promote
our environment and consciously water the tree of peace
in our land.
This project will add value to our task of forging
our nationhood and to display to other nations of the
world, as well as to ourselves, our capacity to give
to humanity what is proudly the product of the composite
effort of all our people.
All the data of human experience is within our reach,
let us use it to build the high road to destiny.
It is the data that will help us "think up the
signs, sketch the landscape, fabricate a plan in order
to invent, once more, the reality of this world".
When we talk of the African Renaissance, there are
those even within our country, who accuse us of being
happy-go-lucky dreamers with a fertile sense of humour.
But how can we build the high road to a better life
without some form of a dream, without some form of a
vision. Don't dreams ignite a little spark within us
towards longing, towards creativity, which opens the
whole universe as a theatre where nothing is impossible?
Dreams are those little things on to which we need
to put flesh, colour and light and turn them into visions,
which become the reality of our existence.
We believe the millennium celebration is one such big
spark, which springs from our common aspiration as citizens
of the world for everything that is good and life enhancing.
For once the millennium experience will answer the
noble question by the poet, Walt Whitman who asked:
"Are all nations communing? Is there going to
be but one heart to the globe?"