Address by Deputy Minister Pahad on
the Launch of the UK-SA Ukuza Initiative, 5 April 2002
"Identity in the 21st Century"
Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to thank the organizers for inviting me to address
this important gathering.
Let me once again extend our peoples and governments
warm welcome to our brothers and sisters from the UK.
The opening session of the "UKUZA 2002 Colloquium
" this morning is an important step to enhance
people to people relations; and to enable us together
to strengthen and broaden our understanding of a new
people-centred World Order.
The theme, " Who Are We ", chosen for this
colloquium is very appropriate for the changes that
South Africans and Britons are experiencing today.
Today there are Interesting debates in the UK about
creating a new British identity which " involves
recognizing that British people have different histories,
ethnic backgrounds and heritages.
Being British should not involve suppressing these
diversities. Diversity adds to natural richness
The concept of identity is not easy to explain. Theorists
and academics alike define the concept differently.
It is not the intention of this paper to get into that
academic debate but more to explain the South African
identity in the 21st century, and how it relates to
an African and an international identity.
According to discoveries by SA archaeologists, "we"
descend from hominids who dwelled in an area to the
west of Johannesburg 2 to 3,3 million years ago. The
discoveries are scientifically significant in the sense
that they have made the world realize that Africa is
almost certainly the original cradle of humankind.
If we consider the important part which Africa has
played in the development of civilization as we know
it, we cannot escape the irony that many countries on
the continent, including South Africa, experienced great
difficulty to maintain and develop their own identities
during the 20th century.
Many of our countries fought a struggle for our identity
against colonial domination and apartheid. This is best
described by Franz Fanon, in his "Wretched of the
Earth" speech at the Congress of Black African
Writers in 1959 :
"A national culture under colonial domination
is a contested culture whose destruction is sought in
systematic fashion. It very quickly becomes a culture
condemned to secrecy. This persistence in following
forms of culture which are already condemned to extinction
is already a demonstration of nationality."
Since the advent of our democracy in 1994, we are making
concerted efforts to create a SA identity based on a
"new patriotism ".
President Mbeki, on the occasion of the adoption of
the Republic of South Africas Constitutional Bill,
8th May 1996, said :
" I am an African.
I owe my being to the Khoi and the San whose desolate
souls haunt those who fell victim to the most merciless
genocide our native land has ever seen, they who were
the first to lose their lives in the struggle to defend
our freedom and independence and they who, as a people,
perished in the result.
I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find
a new home on our native land. Whatever their own actions,
they remain still part of me. In my veins courses the
blood of the Malay slaves who came from the East. Their
proud dignity informs my bearing, their culture is part
of my essence.
I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women that
Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo
and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers Moshoeshoe
and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause
I am the grandchild who lays fresh flowers on the Boer
graves at St Helena and the Bahamas.
I come of those who were transported from India and
China, being resided in the fact, solely, that they
were able to provide physical labour, who taught me
that we could both be at home and be foreign, who taught
me that human existence itself demanded that freedom
was a necessary condition for that human existence.
We are assembled here today to mark their victory in
acquiring and exercising their right to formulate their
own definition of what it means to be African.
The Constitution whose adoption we celebrate constitutes
an unequivocal statement that we refuse to accept that
our Africanness shall be defined by our race, colour,
gender or historical origins.
It is a firm assertion made by ourselves that SA belongs
to all who live in it, black and white.
Our sense of elevation derives from the fact that this
magnificent product is the unique creation of African
hands and African minds. But it also constitutes a tribute
to our loss of vanity that we could, despite the temptation
to treat ourselves as an exceptional fragment of humanity,
draw on the accumulated experience and wisdom of all
humankind to define for ourselves what we want to be.
President Mbekis statement reflects the philosophical
and political base which under-pinned the vision of
our liberation struggle and now is the foundation for
creating a SA identity.
This principle found expression in the Freedom Charter,
adopted as early as 1955, which not only states that
" South Africa belongs to all who live in it, Black
and White "
but also that
" All National Groups shall have equal rights
In its preamble, our new Constitution states:
"We, the people of South Africa, recognise the
injustices of our past
(and) believe that South
Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our
.adopt this Constitution as
the supreme law of the Republic so as to heal the divisions
of the past
.(and) to improve the quality of life
of all citizens and free the potential of each person."
Our constitution recognises the fact that the dignity
of the individual is both an objective which society
must pursue, and a goal that cannot be separated from
the material well being of that individual. It seeks
to create the situation in which all our people shall
be free from fear, including fear of oppression of one
national group by another, the fear of the disempowerment
of one social echelon by another, the fear of the use
of state power to deny anybody their fundamental human
rights and the fear of tyranny.
To successfully achieve national unity and reconciliation
based on a common identity we have to do a number of
We should commit ourselves to achieve the objectives
outlined on our Constitution
Ask ourselves honestly, are we really making progress,
the creation of a non-racial society
healing the divisions of the past and achieving the
peaceful co-existence of all our people
creating development opportunities for all our people,
irrespective of race, class, creed or gender
are we improving the quality of life of our people
Against this background, as South Africans, whatever
the difficulties, we are moving forward in the effort
to combine ourselves into one nation of many colours,
many languages, many cultures and diverse origin. In
other words, reconciliation, transformation and nation
building is progressing, notwithstanding the many problems
Our growing identity as proud members of a democratic
SA includes our respect for cultural diversity, our
social awareness that we are enriched by diverse cultures
and unified by way of our common humanity. As a source
of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity
is as necessary for humankind, as is biodiversity in
Indeed, the new South African identity is encapsulated
in the awareness of the virtues of mutual respect, tolerance
and the value of our fellow human beings on a universal
We believe that our unique South African identity
forged from the injustices of the past can enable
us to make a contribution to an ever changing international
environment as citizens of the global village
to advance the principles of peace, social justice
and dialogue amongst civilisations, cultures and religions.
Our national identity encourages us to pursue this important
mission, especially given the present debate around
the issue of the "clash of civilizations and cultures".
The painful events of September 11 underscores this
point as well as the need for all of us to make contributions
on the world stage in order to avoid a situation where
cultures and religions are juxtaposed.
SA immediately condemned the terrorist acts of September
11th. We also warned that unless the root causes of
terrorism, viz, under-development, poverty and conflicts
are not dealt with, the scourge of terrorism will continue
to haunt us.
Former President Mandela said " our common humanity
transcends the ocean and all national boundaries. It
binds us together in a common cause against tyranny,
to act together in defence of our very humanity. Let
it not be asked by anyone of us : what did we do when
we knew that another was oppressed ? " This is
an important bedrock of our new identity.
During the course of last year, it found expression
in the deployment of our sons and daughters in uniform
in the DRC and Burundi.
This year, we continue with efforts to attain peace
and development in the DRC, Angola, and the Comoros.
We are humbled to host the ICD, which currently takes
place in Sun City.
We also continue to remain seized with the great human
tragedy that is unfolding in the ME.
Our South African identity, itself the result of our
past inhumane experiences and the search for another
political, moral and cultural reality, positions us
to advance the culture of peace by way of our respect
for cultural diversity, be this in the sense of individual
human recognition of others, or in terms of respect
for their tangible and intangible heritage.
As South Africans, our national identity is also sensitized
to the abject poverty in SA and on the African continent,
especially, but also in other parts of the world. We
bleed for our fellow citizens who suffer the scourge
of poverty, under-development and socio-economic hardship,
so aptly chronicled by the historic UN Millenium Summit.
We are therefore committed to empower and advance the
position of the poor by way of sustainable economic
development, promoting education for all, capacity building
and providing equitable access for all our citizens
to participate in the emerging knowledge society of
the 21st century.
I cannot over emphasize that ones identity cannot
be complete unless we view it through our responsibility
to our society. This implies both our individual and
collective role to uphold the principles of dignity,
equality and equity. In this regard the Right to Development
is encapsulated in our vision as stated in the Declaration
on the Right to Development of 1986 that:
"every human person and all peoples are entitled
to participation, contribute to, and enjoy economic,
social, cultural and political development, in which
all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully
The Right to Development is a reality for each of us,
for our collective identity and as an instrument to
ensure that humanity is free from want. Our own Constitution
(Act 108 of 1996) and Bill of Rights clearly capture
the spirit of the Right to Development through its various
provisions. Without the freedom from want we will either
be privileged or under privileged members of society
or segments of society and cannot expect society, whether
in our own country or in the global village, to be normalized
unless the needs of all members are addressed. There
can never be security for one society while there is
great inequality in other societies, particularly in
neighbouring societies. An island of prosperity in a
sea of poverty is no solution, but rather the postponement
of the inevitable socio-economic and political instability.
The crucial World Summit on Sustainable Development
( WSSD ) in Johannesburg in August/Septmebr this year
must make an important contribution to an equitable
system of development throughout the world. Three broad
themes reflect the essential prerequisites for moving
towards sustainable development, namely poverty alleviation
and promoting sustainable livelihoods, realizing sustainable
consumption and production and protecting the integrity
of like-supporting ecosystems.
The Summit is a strategic opportunity for all of us
to emphasize that poverty and inequality are still the
greatest threat to sustainable global development in
the twenty first century. We must use the opportunity
to ensure that both the developed and developing world
find consensus on how to promote sustainable development.
Let us remember that our developments as individuals
or collective parts of society will contribute to the
development of all if we reach out to each other. This
is the challenge of our collective identity.
South Africa, as a nation that has overcome past injustices,
has now been admitted as a member of the community of
nations. South Africa is a responsible member of the
OAU, SADC, UN, NAM, and the Commonwealth. South Africa
is no longer seen as part of a European outpost on the
Our African identity, therefore requires us to ensure
that the process of globalisation does not further widen
the gap between the developing countries, especially
Africa, and the developed countries. Africas debt
was estimated to be US$ 201 Billion in 1999, overseas
development aid to the continent has dropped in real
terms since 1992, diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria,
and Tuberculosis are causing havoc and the telecommunication
and electrical infrastructure of the continent are of
the lowest reaching capacity in the world.
The New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD)
is Africas response to address the development
and other challenges facing our continent. The introduction
of the NEPAD document states that:
"NEPAD is a pledge by African leaders that they
have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place
their countries, both individually and collectively,
on a path of sustainable growth and development and
at the same time to participate actively in the world
economy and body politic. The programme is anchored
on the determination of Africans to extricate themselves
and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment
and exclusion in a globalising world."
We believe, as Africans, that we as South Africans
should and can play a crucial role in the realization
of the ideals of NEPAD through the active participation
of all parts of our society.
We are confident that the government and people of the
UK will become important partners with Africa to ensure
the successful implementation of NEPAD.
Who are we in the Twenty First Century ?
We are African, we are part of the world family of
peoples who seek to give content to the Final Declaration
of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and related intolerance held in Durban,
SA from 31 August to 7 September 2001 , which states:
" We further affirm that all peoples and individuals
constitute one human family, rich in diversity. They
have contributed to the progress of civilisations and
cultures that form the common heritage of humanity.
Preservation and promotion of tolerance, pluralism and
respect for diversity can produce more inclusive societies.
South Africans have embarked on the long and hard road
to forge a common identity. We have no illusions of
seeking quick and easy successes. However, we do have
a commitment and vision. We owe it to our future generations.
UKUZA is an important initiative that can contribute
to our vision becoming a reality.
I thank the British Council, the British High Commission,
and the Department of Foreign Affairs for organising
this all important colloquium
I thank you.