Remarks at the Official Banquet in honour
of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany,
21 January 2002
Your Excellency President Rau and Mrs Rau,
Distinguished members of the German delegation,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Fellow South Africans,
Ladies and Gentleman:
On behalf of the government and people of South Africa,
my wife and I are very happy to welcome you Mr President,
Mrs Rau and our friends from Germany. We are especially
pleased, Mr President that you, an eminent German, European
and citizen of the world, a fellow-combatant against
the evil system of apartheid, have at last had the possibility
to visit a country you helped to liberate.
Your presence here will serve to strengthen the historical
ties of friendship between our two countries and peoples,
ties that have existed for more than two centuries ago.
It was first in the foothills of the Langeberg Mountains
in July 1737, that Georg Schmidt established a mission
station in Genadendal (the Valley of Grace), in a series
of whitewashed thatched houses. Here he began to work
among the Khoi people and started a school in 1738.
Schmidt was a member of the Moravian Church, also known
as the United Brethren. Operating from its centre in
Herrnhut in Saxony, this Church became the first Protestant
Church to establish an organisation for the purpose
of sending out missionaries to foreign lands. Their
work did much to encourage others in Germany and Europe
to do the same.
Later German church missions and settlements would
spread to Bredasdorp, Elim, Malmesbury in the Cape,
to KwaZulu-Natal, Rustenburg and various other centres.
Today there is a museum in Genadendal tracing these
socio-cultural and religious ties and the people of
this town have a proud history of struggle against segregation
The schools established by the German missionaries
and the skills that the German immigrants brought would
help to build this country and contribute to the betterment
of all of South Africa's people.
In retracing this history of settlements and of struggle,
we become aware of how far we have travelled together,
of how our relationship first established in the early
colonial period, was renewed in the period of our new
democracy. It takes on an even deeper meaning now in
this new century and places new demands upon each and
both of us in these new times.
This morning you gave me a dossier, Mr President, from
the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg, containing
information about a project on the history of our two
countries. The missionaries who came to South Africa
as early as 1834 kept records of their mission work
here in South Africa. There are a number of valuable
materials from indigenous workers in the mission in
mainly four African languages, Zulu, Pedi, Venda and
Xhosa. The history of the communities touched by the
Mission, their social situations and cultural contexts,
are waiting for interpretation by scholars. The Evangelical
Missions in Berlin and Brandenburg decided to open this
information to the public so that scholars could come
and interpret these writings. I have decided to take
on this project myself and study the relations between
Germany and South Africa over the last two hundred years
and I will report to you Mr President at the end of
the year on progress made.
It is in the context of a great global promise of a
better life for all but also a world reality characterised
by huge pockets of poverty and inequality producing
hopelessness and despair especially among the people
of the developing countries, that we meet here today
to consolidate and further deepen our relations, for
the mutual benefit.
Your programme here in South Africa aptly demonstrates
the depth of the relations of friendship and co-operation
which we enjoy, covering a wide range of issues.
In this regard your visit over the next few days to
several development projects in which your country has
made substantial investments further underscores the
commitment and depth of Germany's engagement in the
development of our country.
We greatly value the presence of a very large number
of German companies in South Africa, and the fact that
they have, of their own accord or through mechanisms
like the Southern Africa Initiative of German Business,
become active and conscious partners in our socio-economic
development - an endeavour which I am sure will grow
even more in the future.
The twinning arrangements between various towns and
regions in our two countries are also indicative of
the common commitment to build a solid partnership between
our two peoples and countries.
Yet, it has not only been in the bilateral sphere that
Germany has played a role in our development. Once more,
Mr President, I would like to convey our appreciation
of what Germany did to ensure the successful conclusion
of the Trade and Development Agreement between us and
the European Union.
We are also pleased to note your constructive contribution
to our continent as a whole through your support of
the objectives and indeed the realisation of the New
Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
As we take NEPAD into its implementation phase, we
believe that through your efforts and participation,
we shall be able to move faster on the road to Africa's
socio-economic recovery and development. In this regard,
I am happy to see that your Commissioner for Africa,
Deputy Minister Uschi Eid, is also present here tonight
as part of your delegation.
As you will recall, Mr President, when the Federal
Republic of Germany was chair of the G8, the Non-Aligned
Movement was, for the first time, invited to meet the
G8 in Cologne. This has led to further fruitful dialogue
between the North and the South, including the current
engagement between the G8 and Africa on NEPAD.
Working together at both the bilateral and multilateral
levels, we will ensure, Mr President, that we change
our continent of Africa from a place of despair to a
home of hope and human fulfilment. We are proud and
inspired that we have the German people as our firm
May our relationship first established in the foothills
of the Langeberg continue to bear fruit as we meet in
Berlin and Pretoria and as our peoples engage each other
in all areas of human endeavour.
In this context, Mr President, I would also like to
express our full support for the Locum II Conference
aimed at mobilising both our peoples into a cooperative
development initiative that will address many issues
and strengthen the people-to-people relations.
Of course, we will also continue to consolidate our
relationship through the Binational Commission as sister
countries conscious of our membership of a great human
family that needs enduring peace, shared prosperity
and sustained development.
It is therefore with great pleasure that I ask you
to rise and drink a toast to His Excellency, President
and Mrs Rau and to friendship between our peoples.
I thank you.