Address by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Marius Fransman at the 25th Remembrance Ceremony for Dulcie September in Arcueil, France, 29 March 2013
The Honourable Mayor of Arceuil, Mr Daniel Breuller
Honourable Councillors of Arceuil
Representatives of the French government
South African Ambassador to France
Mr Jean Belliard, Director: Africa & Indian Ocean: French Foreign Affairs Ministry
Madame Rosario, Principal of the Dulcie September College
Ladies and gentlemen
I feel greatly honoured today to be standing before you, in this country which is the cradle of human rights and in a municipality which stood firm to ensure that oppressed people of South Africa attain their freedom by supporting our struggle against Apartheid. This was of course a struggle for human rights; the struggle against crimes against humanity which claimed many lives, including that of our heroine, Cde Dulcie September, 25 years ago.
The French people, especially people of Arcuille sacrificed for our struggle for freedom which is a struggle for human rights, Cde. Dulcie September spearheaded so gallantly.
Today as we think of the freedom fighters from both South Africa and around the world, the name of Dulcie September comes first when the names of heroines are remembered. As President Jacob Zuma once said, and I quote
“She forged an undeniable link between the peoples of South Africa and France. Dulcie September was posthumously honoured in 2009 by the Government of the Republic of South Africa, for her contribution to the promotion of equality and human rights. She was awarded the National Order of Mendi for dedicating her life in the fight against apartheid. She stood for an equitable and just world for all, where the values of non-racialism and non-sexism are upheld. As we remember Dulcie on the day of her tragic assassination on 29 March, we are also to remember our responsibility in promoting the values she stood for.”
What were these values she stood for and the legacy she left behind?
Cde September was the very embodiment of the traditions, culture and values of the African National Congress even before she became a member and disciplined cadre of this organisation.
Her entire youth and adult life was characterized by a spirit of selfness, sacrifice, dedication and commitment to fighting all forms of oppression and discrimination. Her ideals until the day she died remained to build a united, non racial and non sexist South Africa.
When we reflect upon the life of Cde September it is important to understand her upbringing and surroundings that ingrained in her the values of justice and sense freedom, democracy and equality.
Cde September was in fact an activist, cadre and disciplined revolutionary for more than half of her life.
Cde September was born and bred in the working class area of Gleemore Athlone in 1935; a time in which colonialism was fully institutionalised and the seeds of Apartheid was being developed. She attended Athlone High School and it was during this period when racial oppression was fully institutionalised through Apartheid in 1948 that her political consciousness was awakened. Through the inspiration of progressive teachers coupled with the extreme oppression experienced as a young black (coloured) female youth living on the Cape Flats in Cape Town South Africa as well as her own sense of justice (she became a teacher in Cape Town) and so began her lifelong activism against all forms of oppression at the youthful age of 22.
Cde September remained a dedicated anti-apartheid activist, women’s activist and child activist until the day she died when was brutally assassinated in Paris in 1988.
Cde September started her activism within the leftist movement of the Western Cape mobilizing communities against the Apartheid regime throughout the turbulent 50's and early 60's until she was imprisoned for a period of 5 years for conspiracy to commit sabotage and then after her release banned for a further 5 years.
After her banning in the early 70's she went into exile. It was during this period she became deeply active in the Anti-Apartheid and International Solidarity movement in Europe. It was also during this period that Cde September joined the African National Congress in 1976.
By this time as veteran and dedicated activist she was deployed to work in the Women’s Section of the ANC both in Europe and Lusaka where she fulfilled her role with the same dedication and fighting spirit that she had prior to exile. Her activism not only included fighting racial discrimination but the rights of women and children. She also worked full time for the International Aid and Defense Fund.
Cde September also received military training in Moscow and was finally deployed as the ANC Chief Representative to France, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Cde Septembers life long commitment and revolutionary dedication to ending all forms of discrimination and sense of selfnesses is characterised through her action in 3 of the 4 pillars of struggle (even prior to her joining the African National Congress) namely;
- Internal Mass Mobilisation- as a young activist and teacher on the Cape Flats
- Armed Struggle
- International Solidarity Work as a deployee to the Women’s Section of the ANC, Anti-Apartheid Committee, the international Aid and Defense fund and finally as the ANC Chief Rep to France, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
These 4 pillars of struggle are what resulted in bringing Apartheid South Africa to its knees.
I raise this history because for many of us we only remember Cde September as a revolutionary ANC diplomat and no doubt she left an indelible mark in this area but so too she was equally a revolutionary soldier and revolutionary activist in the mass movement.
It is this spirit of selfless sacrifice, single-mindedness, dedication, commitment, discipline and clarity of purpose of by a generation of cadres such as Cde Dulcie September that has resulted in the ANC ending Apartheid and celebrating its 100th year centenary last year.
As we remember Cde September I believe that the best way that we can pay tribute to her life and her sacrifices is by emulating her values of selfless sacrifice in order to continue the fight against all forms of oppression and the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Today as our 2 countries commemorates the 25th Anniversary of Cde September we must then ask ourselves how we can continue to build on her legacy in practical and tangible ways no matter how small.
Ladies and gentlemen
In this regard what Cde. Dulcie September fought for must be translated into tangible projects which will help advance democracy and human rights between people of France and South Africa and beyond. We remind ourselves of the pursuit of Ubuntu Diplomacy that values no one particular race or creed above another. Ubuntu Diplomacy that means I am because you are. Our humanity is confirmed by humanity of others as the rights of humankind state. We also must remind ourselves of the spirit of revolutionary diplomacy. Using diplomacy as tool in the fight against global oppression, injustice and inequality wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.
Ladies and Gentlemen
South Africa’s stable, democratic and free society is indebted to men and women such as Cde. Dulcie September and those people of Arcuille and France who stood side by side with us during dark days of our struggle for freedom, human rights and democracy.
As I speak, today I see myself at home away from home, because South Africa views France and her people as friends of South Africa.
South Africa and France have the relationship which has been forged and maintained by friends such as Arceuil, who uphold the fundamental rights of all people and share a common value of a better world with us.
It is therefore our common responsibility to translate this relationship by fully implementing and building on the agreements we have including Arcuille – Athlone cooperation which was initiated by Arcuille and our Embassy with the first visit to South Africa by the Honourable Mayor of Arcuille, Mr Daniel Breuller in June 2006.
Secondly the Dulcie September legacy project launched in 2009 which serves as a joint project between the national government of South Africa and the Mairie of Arcueil. I am certain that as this joint co-operation grows we will see exchange between the youth of Arceuil and the youth of South Africa.
Dulcie September annual lecture should not only prove to be a great source of inspiration to young leaders from South Africa and France but also a forum which can be used to advance cooperation between people of South Africa and France. A forum which will ensure that people to people cooperation agreements are made effective and living legacy for Dulcie September as she was a people centered leader who put well-being of her people first.
May this friendship continue to cultivate and practise the human values of justice, equality and community which Dulcie September lived and died for. South Africa is encouraged by the level of co-operation between the Mairie de Arcueil and the embassy.
Mr Mayor, we know that you have been pivotal to the preservation of Dulcie’s memory amongst the community members in Arcueil, and in France as a whole. We are honoured that you and the people of Arcueil have committed yourselves to keeping our shared legacy current and relevant to members of this community.
As President Zuma once said; and I quote
“We as South Africans look forward to a sustainable partnership on education, youth and culture with the community of Arceuil. Dulcie September undeniably left her mark in the lives of those she came in contact with in France. It is a privilege to share this occasion with those of her friends who are here today, the town of Arcueil, her home and community in France. May we never forget the values of truth, justice, equality and compassion for fellow humans which Dulcie September stood for. Today we pay tribute to a woman of South Africa whose activities made a valuable contribution to bringing down an apartheid system that had for too long defined our country.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion as we celebrate and remember the life of Dulcie September during International Women’s month, we must also have special focus on forging cooperation which will empower women of France and South Africa, to ensure that equality and gender parity Dulcie September fought for is indeed realised. Let us identify areas of cooperation which will preserve Dulcie September’s legacy.
Allow me to conclude with a poem in her memory called:
‘The deed is done’
The deed is done, your leaf has fallen
They said it was, your whole life’s calling
Au revoir comrade, until we meet
Five bullets in the back on a Paris street
The deed is done, like collected mail
No strange end, to a Cape Flats tale
You died for Liberté, égalité, fraternité
You lived for the struggle, to set us free
The deed is done, a square and a plaque
But in our hearts, you’ve left your mark
Igama lika Dulcie Evonne September
Your name it is, the world will remember
The deed is done; you died at forty-four
An abandoned inquest and TRC lore
No, no answers, to all our questions
Just rumour, conspiracy and vexations
The deed is done, two nations celebrate
Back home people, shout and ruminate
Why did our comrade Dulcie have to die?
Why so callously, please tell, why, o why?
The deed is done, will we ever find out
She was told to leave, but stuck about
She knew no fear, never would she run
Now we miss her, the struggle has won
The deed is done, and we celebrate your name
The fate of heartless cowards, is to die in shame
Your name is like Tambo, Sisulu and Mandela
Always remembered and loved by every fella
The deed is done, and Cde Dulcie is no more
But her memory binds Arcueil and Gleemore
We will raise your flag, flower of our nation
Truth will be known, at the final station.
Au revoir Comrade Dulcie
I thank you
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
460 Soutpansberg Road
29 March 2013