Toast Remarks by Deputy President Jacob Zuma, at the Banquet held in Honour of Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of Nigeria, International Convention Centre, Durban, 8 September 2004

Your Excellency and dear Brother, the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Turakin Adamawa,
Madame Abubakar,
Your Excellencies, Nigerian and South African Government Ministers,
The Honourable Premier of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr S'bu Ndebele, and the Executive Mayor of Durban, Mr Obed Mlaba,
Governors of Nigerian States,
The High Commissioners of South Africa to Nigeria and Nigeria to South Africa,
Distinguished guests,

After a hectic day's work let me once again welcome you and your delegation to our country and to this Province of KwaZulu-Natal.

You will have noticed and heard my Dear Brother, from your last visit that this province abounds in natural beauty, from the majestic Drakensberg mountain range in the West to our beautiful Indian Ocean shore in the east.

While this province's wildlife is an attraction on its own, KwaZulu-Natal is also a popular tourist destination because of its year round beautiful warm weather, except for this week of course, we ordered the rain to ensure that delegates focus on work and avoid the beachfront!

You would be aware that this province is also known for its colourful culture and a rich military history. Many historic battles were fought in the rolling green hills of this land of the legendary statesman King Shaka, the greatest military and political strategist of all times.

This City of Durban has also become well-known internationally as the home of international conventions, as you said earlier today My Dear Brother that your first visit here was to attend an economic summit.

Your Excellency you will have to forgive me for waxing lyrical about this province, it is my home ground! You will have to put up with my marketing for the next few days.

Let me once again emphasise that it is always an honour for us to host you, and each time we meet, we move forward in deepening and strengthening the relations and friendship between our two countries.

The challenges that face the world, such as international security and the eradication of poverty, put pressure on us to double our efforts to achieve our goals, at a bilateral as well as multilateral level.

The role that Nigeria is playing in the search for peace in the continent is commendable, and our two nations need to continue in this direction, towards the common goal of rebuilding our continent.

Your Excellency, we are certainly making progress with regards to enhancing economic linkages as well as people to people co-operation between our two countries.

However, I believe we still have a lot to do to promote and further enhance the understanding of each other's cultures and traditions. We can do this through more interaction, and as you outlined this morning, such as through moving the meetings of the BNC to different parts of our countries.

Your Excellency, given that September is Tourism Month in our country, we hope that what you will see of this province will encourage you to return at a later date to explore what KwaZulu-Natal has to offer as a holiday destination.

The reed dance, Umhlanga ceremony, forms an important part of the September calendar in this province, and I am glad you have agreed to join us to visit this cultural spectacular on Saturday.

It is one of the main demonstrations of the culture, traditions and pride of the Zulu people. Towards the end of the month, we celebrate King Shaka Day, honouring the founder of the Zulu nation, and later in the year, the ukweshwama ceremony, during which the Zulu warriors are expected to overpower and kill an extremely violent bull with their bare hands! Mr Vice President you are in the land of the brave and the daring, the Kingdom of the Zulu.

Ladies and gentlemen, 2004 is a special year for us as we mark 10 years of freedom and democracy.

As we celebrate, we cannot forget the role of the African continent in our struggle for liberation. In this regard, as Minister Jeff Radebe said earlier this morning, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to our Nigerian brothers and sisters for standing shoulder to shoulder with us in fighting against apartheid and racism.

My dear Brother, let me reiterate that we have come together this evening to celebrate the friendship and co-operation between the two countries.

We need to commit ourselves to building an even stronger Binational Commission, to ensure that we achieve the goals we have set for ourselves, of strengthening and deepening relations and co-operation in many areas.

May I invite you, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, to rise and join me in a toast to the long life and wisdom of our two Presidents, and to growing and deeper ties between South Africa and Nigeria!

I thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency
8 September 2004

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