Reply of the President
of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki to the Toast by her Excellency,
the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas,
Dame Ivy Dumont, Atlantis Resort Hotel: Paradise Island,
Bahamas, 29 December 2003
Your Excellency, Dame Ivy Leona Dumont,
Your Excellency, Mr Reginald Dumont,
Your Excellency, Prime Minister, Perry Christie,
Your Excellency, Mrs Bernadette Christie,
Ladies and gentlemen:
My wife, my delegation and I are truly delighted to
join you in the beautiful Commonwealth of the Bahamas
for the festive season and thank Your Excellencies for
your very gracious invitation to come here on a state
We bring the warmest season s greetings of the
government and people of South Africa to Your Excellencies,
to the Prime Minister, the government and the wonderful
people of the Bahamas.
May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on
the 30th anniversary of your independence and to Your
Excellency for being the first woman here to assume
the mantle of Governor-General.
Bahamians have a long and proud tradition of cherishing
freedom from the time when the indigenous Arawak were
forcefully removed from their homeland by the invading
Spaniards to work in the mines in Hispaniola and Cuba
in the 15th century, where many of them died.
Equally, many of the African slave ancestors who came
here in chains had a burning desire to attain freedom.
The same goes for many pilgrims who arrived in these
beautiful islands seeking refuge from religious persecution.
As South Africans and Africans, we salute Bahamians
for your solidarity with our own struggle for freedom
from apartheid and colonialism.
It was in Nassau that the Commonwealth Heads of Government
adopted a resolution, in 1985, which established the
Eminent Persons Group, agreed to ban all new loans to
the former racist regime in our country, and imposed
a number of sanctions.
Today, as free Africans, we rejoice that we are here
to thank you and celebrate freedom with you, our true
brothers and sisters.
In addition, we cannot forget that among those of our
compatriots who are buried here are Boers who were deported
by the British to the Bahamas as prisoners of war, during
the South African (Anglo-Boer) War of 1899 1902.
We are happy that there is already contact between
our people, including business people from our two countries
investing in our respective economies and establishing
the basis for further trade between our two countries.
Indeed, Your Excellency, the possibility exists for
increased cooperation in the areas of trade, education,
health, tourism, sport and culture, as well as ensuring
exchanges that would nurture, develop and strengthen
Furthermore, as members of CARICOM, the Commonwealth
of the Bahamas is part of an important process of strengthening
the relations of the people of this region with their
African brothers and sisters through the African Union,
the umbrella body of African countries, and its development
programme, the New Partnership for Africas Development
As you know, this New Partnership is a programme aimed
at the renaissance of the African continent so that
together we can banish forever, the scourge of poverty
and underdevelopment and move our countries to higher
levels of development and prosperity.
An important part of this programme is the need to
work through partnerships. Clearly, the governments
and people of this country, as well as this region,
through their regional body, CARICOM, are natural allies
and partners of our development programme, because the
inevitable outcome of this process is the defeat of
poverty and underdevelopment also in the Caribbean.
Both our peoples in Africa, the Caribbean and other
regions have a duty to act in solidarity, as part of
the developing regions, to ensure that at all times
the interests of the poor drives the global agenda.
We are therefore strengthened by the fact that all
our people on the African continent and those in the
Diaspora have begun to join hands, in the spirit of
Bahamian national tree, the Tree of Life, Lignum Vitae,
so as to achieve a better life for the poor of the world.
It is also fitting that we are gathered together at
the Atlantis Resort Hotel, which is a clear and visible
symbol of what could be achieved through cooperation
and commitment between our entrepreneurs and our governments.
We have a duty and responsibility to increase these
kinds of investments in our economies.
Indeed, Your Excellency, during our visit, we look
forward to strengthening these relations of co-operation
and solidarity between our two countries and peoples.
We have an excellent role-model in the doyen of the
international film world and a true patriotic Bahamian,
Sidney Poiter, who has shown us, by example, that one
can rise from the depths of poverty in Cat Island and
Nassau to reach the footlights of Broadway and the acclaim
of Hollywood and still have the humility and courage
to defend the rights of the poorest of the earth.
We wish your Excellencies and the people of the Bahamas
a prosperous and peaceful New Year and we are very excited
that we will have the opportunity to participate in
the Junkanoo carnival.
We would be deeply honoured to reciprocate your cordial
and warm hospitality and would be delighted if your
Excellencies could grace our lovely shores in the not
too distant future.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen:
Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health
and prosperity of their Excellencies the Governor-General
of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and Mr. Reginald
Dumont. The Governor-General!
Please also join me in a toast to the Prime Minister
and Mrs. Christie and to the wonderful friendship between
the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and South
Africa. The people!
I thank you.
Issued by The Presidency: Republic of South Africa
on 29 December 2003.