Address of the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Death of Samora Machel, Mbuzini, Mpumalanga, 19 October 2006

Programme Director, MEC Nomsa Mtsweni
Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Mozambique, our friend, brother and comrade, Armando Guebuza
Graça Machel and the Machel family
Our Mozambican friends, brothers and sisters - members of all the families that lost their loved ones here at Mbuzini 20 years ago
Your Excellency, Minister of Arts and Culture of Mozambique, Aires Ally and other members of the sister Government of Mozambique
Your Excellency, our Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan and other members of our Government
The Honourable Inkosi, Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Your Excellency, Premier of the Mpumalanga Province, Thabang Makwetla, and members of the Government of Mpumalanga
Your Worship, Executive Mayor of Mbuzini
Mr MJ Mavuso, Nkosi Mlambo Mahlalela
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Fellow Mozambicans and fellow South Africans
Distinguished guests

A mere two hundred or so metres from where we are is the exact spot where the ill-fated plane of our late leader, Comrade Samora Moses Machel, finally came to rest after it crashed somewhat higher up the hill on which this national monument stands.

That is the exact spot at which the bodies of the deceased were finally recovered, the piece of earth into which blood would have flowed from the dead and injured on the night of 19 October 1986.

At this moment, it is marked by three headstones with the names of the deceased and an explanation of why this particular area of the soil of Mbuzini, Mpumalanga and South Africa occupies a special and sacred place on the face of our territory. Together, we will do more, consistent with African tradition, to protect this place, sacred to the dead, as a fitting shrine to the Martyrs of Mbuzini.

When we speak of Mozambican blood that flowed into the soil of Mbuzini, we speak of this particular spot. It must surely be one of the great symbolic puzzles of nature and history that we lost the lives of great Africans at a place that draws its name from a water stream at the foot of this hill, a stream called Mbuzini. All African cultures celebrate the seasonal onset of the rains that bless human society with the gift of water, without which existence would become impossible.

The Setswana-speaking people convey their most deep seated wishes for communal peace and tranquillity, happiness and prosperity with the words "pula! nala!" which, literally translated, means, let the rains fall, let all enjoy a good harvest!

It must surely be one of the great symbolic puzzles of nature and history that here, at a place named after a watercourse, where we should receive all our visitors with the life affirming greeting "pula! nala!" that we speak solemnly, as we must, about death at Mbuzini, about the sacred Mozambican lives that were lost needlessly, on the virtually invisible shores of the water stream, called Mbuzini.

But perhaps we should ask ourselves the question - are we in reality confronted by a puzzle of nature and history, or are we faced with the extraordinary possibility to honour this place of the tragic death of our heroes and heroines, as a place from which we must draw great strength as we do everything in our power to build a life of dignity and prosperity for the peoples of Mozambique, South Africa and Africa?

A young South African and African patriot, an armed combatant for African freedom as Samora Machel was, Solomon Mahlangu, was hanged on 6 April 1979, by the apartheid regime within the territorial matrimony to which Mbuzini belongs. On his way to the gallows, he said: "My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom."

Samora Machel and his comrades did not have the possibility to convey their final messages to all of us, as they approached their own moment of death. And yet I believe that because we had come to know who Samora Machel and Aquino de Braganca and Fernando Honwana and the others who perished with them were and what they stood for, we have every right and indeed the duty, to affirm that at the instant they realised that the angel of death had come upon their lives, they pronounced the life giving words, as did their young comrade, Solomon Mahlangu, "Our blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom."

Thus should we say that the blood that was shed at Mbuzini, twenty years ago, like the waters that flow down the Mbuzini water stream, together constitute the very life force that has nourished the tree that has borne the fruits of freedom for both our peoples, which like others of our native trees, will forever communicate the life message " pula! nala!"

Ten years ago, on 17 October 1996, a mere two years after our liberation, that great son of our people and Africa, Nelson Mandela, spoke from this place. The dictates of natural age and the ravages his body has bourn as he struggled for the true emancipation of his people, have kept him away from this important solemn ceremony held to honour the memory of his comrades.

I am privileged to convey his apologies to you, Comrade President, everybody present here, and our sister nations, with no choice but to explain that these burdens, imposed by nature, have kept him away from this occasion. Similarly, I am privileged, to speak on his behalf and on behalf of his dear wife, Graça Machel, to convey his best wishes and his message to us all that he is with us in spirit, forever bound to all of us as a fellow combatant for the liberation and dignity of the peoples of Mozambique, South Africa, Africa and the African Diaspora.

I would also like to take advantage of this opportunity to acknowledge the presence among us and thank him for his presence, one of our veterans, who has known and worked with Nelson Mandela longer than anyone of us here has, Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Graciously, and without hesitation, Inkosi Buthelezi, uMntwana wakwaPhindangene, accepted our invitation to be present here today, on what is a special occasion that will forever define what we must do to earn the right to inherit the accolade that we are Africans.

With your permission, convinced about the timeless vitality of his words, I would like to repeat what Nelson Mandela said here ten years ago in 1996 as, standing side by side with Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, he commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the Death of the Martyrs at Mbuzini. On that occasion he said:

"We are gathered here on the soil of a liberated South Africa to pay homage to a universal hero, a son of Mozambique and indeed a son of Africa, who dedicated his life to the freedom of us all.

Ten years ago today, Samora Machel drenched the soil of our land with his blood. A tragedy had befallen Mozambique, South Africa, Africa and beyond.

Yet as we shed the tears of grief and disbelief, we knew that Samora had cemented a bond between our two peoples that no force could sever. He had made a final statement which fired us all with a new determination to free the sub-continent from the scourge of war and human suffering.

In Samora Moises Machel the peoples of Mozambique and all of Southern Africa, had a leader of great intellect and courage, a general with strategic grasp and unwavering commitment to freedom and justice; a visionary for whom the interdependence of the countries and peoples of our region meant that none could enjoy freedom while some remained oppressed.

The shock and pain of his loss was deep and lasting. (Given the product of the years that have passed), South Africa and Mozambique can now pursue shared objectives as partners for peace and prosperity. In the Maputo Corridor that runs through this area the benefits of co-operation are taking concrete shape.

Samora Machel's life was taken as the new society was struggling to life amidst the dying convulsions of the old. Our deepest regret is that he is not with us to give wise counsel and leadership in this our new challenge, to harness the creative potential and energies of our peoples.

We have gathered here at Mbuzini, close to the border between our two countries, to pay tribute to one whose life expressed the highest ideals of internationalism and universality. As a tribute to a founding visionary of the new reality taking shape in our region, as a pledge of commitment to the ideals for which he stood, and so that future generations will learn of the sacrifices which opened the way, this site is now declared a national monument.

A memorial will be erected at this site by our two governments, to mourn our loss and to celebrate the life and vision of Samora Machel. This heralds a new era in which the pioneers of our new society are honoured as they should be. But we know that, when all is said and done, the best tribute we can pay Samora Machel and those who perished on that fateful day, is to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and disease, and to create prosperous societies whose ethos of justice and equity were the passion of Samora's life and the intent to build a society of honour."

It is in these words that Nelson Mandela paid tribute to Samora Machel and the Mozambican and Soviet comrades who perished here 20 years ago. I believe that there is little more that we should say. That little more must surely include the directives that Samora Machel left with us, which we must follow as we strive to live up to what Nelson Mandela described as "the ideals for which he stood."

Samora Machel said that, "solidarity is not charity, but mutual aid in pursuit of shared objectives." My dear comrade, brother and friend, President Armando Guebuza, our Mozambican brothers and sisters, I am privileged to make this pledge to you on this historic occasion at Mbuzini, and on behalf of your South African brothers and sisters, that we will always, while we live, strive to act together with you in solidarity and true friendship, not in charity, but within the context of mutual aid in pursuit of shared objectives.

I am certain that Samora Machel and the other comrades who shed their blood here at Mbuzini 20 years ago today, wherever they are, have worked with us as our silent and unseen companions as we have built bonds that can never be severed, expressed in concrete joint socio-economic projects that add to and go far beyond the important Maputo Corridor of which Nelson Mandela spoke 10 years ago.

We have done everything we have done together, which stands out as an outstanding example of what should be done to unite Africa and overcome the artificial divisions and the legacy of a long period of slavery, imperialism and colonialism, inspired by what Samora Machel meant when he said:

"The rich man's dog gets more in the way of vaccination, medicine and medical care than do the workers upon whom the rich man's wealth is built."

We have worked together in solidarity and friendship, together to end this legacy. As it always has been an integral part of our striving towards the goal of liberation, our intentions and programmes have never been intended to deny the dogs and other forms of animal and plant life a healthy existence, a noble objective we share, as did Samora Machel.

Rather, they have focused and continue to focus on the central and vital objective to build people-centred societies, so that the workers and working people who constitute the overwhelming majority of our societies, have the possibility to enjoy the wealth they create, and therefore the possibility, fully to regain their human and African dignity.

It was for this that many Mozambican patriots laid down their lives during the struggle for the independence of Mozambique, in which you, Mr President, side by side with Samora and Graça Machel, your predecessor Joaquim Chissano and others, played an important part, and for which Samora Machel and other martyrs sacrificed their lives here at Mbuzini.

Not long ago, across the Mbuzini water stream, representatives of our governments opened a Public Library dedicated to the memory of Comrade Samora Moises Machel and this National Monument.

Libraries exist because books exist. Books constitute stored human knowledge and human imagination. Without a recorded recall of the known, the speculative and the imagined, an acknowledged inquiring gaze into the future, and the application of human knowledge to produce material artefacts of human creativity, books would not exist, and thus the Mbuzini Samora Machel Public Library would not exist.

This Public Library exists in this rural setting that, like many others on our Continent, recalls the timeless existence of both nature and African society and thus confirms the permanence of the indelible imprint on the human mind of the memory and inspiration of the Martyrs of Mbuzini.

This national Monument, which we commission today, the patch of grass two hundred metres away, whose healthy roots are coloured red by the blood of the Martyrs of Mbuzini, the Library that stands proud across the Mbuzini water stream, exist to enable us - to tell our own and shared history as we know it, to respect the vision, the example and the sacrifices of the Martyrs of Mbuzini, and to act vigorously and consistently to recreate ourselves and our societies, as the Martyrs of Mbuzini acted to give meaning to the dream of Mozambique, South Africa and Africa reborn!

Many of us present here today, the successor generation to, and the students of revolution issuing from the hands of such irreplaceable revolutionary practitioners as was Samora Machel, have had the rare possibility to come face to face with the ugly, soulless and foreign beast that, despite our will, continues to impose its views on us as a material force that still helps to determine the very being of the African soul.

This is the ugly beast that has created the possibility for some of us to alienate ourselves from the most basic hopes and immediate interests of the peoples of Africa, ready to believe that these interests of the African masses would best be served by obedience to the dictates of the global forces that currently determine the global agenda, in their own interest.

Because her own children have agreed to be bought, accepting to serve the interests of others who pursue their own contrary purposes, it has, in reality, proved immensely difficult for Mother Africa to recapture her sovereign right to redefine herself and act in the interest of her own children.

Today's current reality, the concrete actuality that describes our African existential condition, seems to convey the same message communicated by at least four decades, of a false collective African start, which, with depressing effect, says that despite all our combined efforts, especially after the last few years "plus àchange, plus càst la meme chose!; the more things change, the more they remain the same!"

As we communicate freely among ourselves, at this national monument on an historic day, we must energise ourselves to do what Samora Machel wanted us to do when he said:

"When we took up arms to defeat the older order, we felt the obscure need to create a new society: strong, healthy and prosperous, in which people free from all exploitation would co-operate for the progress of all.

In the course of our struggle we came to understand our objectives more clearly - we felt especially that the struggle to create new structures would fail without the creation of a new mentality."

As we meet here today, to commemorate the tragic loss of the Martyrs of Mbuzini, 20 years ago today, we must, together, answer the question - have we succeeded to create a leadership cadre and a Continental African people inspired by a new mentality?

Long live the memory of Samora Machel!
Long live the fighting spirit of the Martyrs of Mbuzini!
Long live the solidarity and friendship that unite the peoples of Mozambique, South Africa, Africa and the African Diaspora!
A luta continua! A vitoria e ta! Muito obrigado!

Enquiries:

Samuel Mpatlanyane
Head: Communications

Tel: (013) 766 5014
Fax: (013) 766 5576
Cell: 082 923 0550

Issued by: Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation, Mpumalanga Provincial Government
19 October 2006

 

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