Address by Mr Marius Llewellyn Fransman, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation on the occasion of the Nelson Mandela memorial service held at St Georges Cathedral, Cape Town, Thursday, 12 December 2013

Programme Director,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Respected Guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to begin my address today by reading the first stanza of the Internationale:

“Stand up, damned of the Earth
Stand up, prisoners of starvation
Reason thunders in its volcano
This is the eruption of the end.
Of the past let us make a clean slate
Enslaved masses, stand up, stand up.
The world is about to change its foundation
We are nothing, let us be all.
 |: This is the final struggle
  Let us group together, and tomorrow
  The Internationale
  Will be the human race. :|”

We are humbled as a nation by the presence of so many heads of state, diplomats and delegations from every continent in the world. We join the millions around the globe who shed tears, who lovingly remember and who celebrate the achievements of a shepherd boy who touched the hearts and soul of a generation. He has brought us together in death as he did in life to commit ourselves to the possibility of a new world-a world in which we put an end to hunger, starvation and suffering.

Millions of tributes have poured in from every part of the world. Every tribute that pours in from the most remote part of the world affirms us as a nation and reminds us that Madiba did not die in vain but brought hope where there was none. His death tells us that the seeds of world peace, justice and dignity for all that he planted wherever he went has taken root. It tells us that though Madiba has passed on, his legacy lives on and his dream will never die.

From Curitiba in Brazil, Vladivostok in Russia, Shengen in China, Tyne in the United Kingdom, Santa Clara in Cuba, Jarna in Sweden, and Timbuktu in Mali, the messages of support all tell us that Madiba deeply touched the lives of millions across the world. He touched the lives of so many because his struggle for a free South Africa against the might of the repressive apartheid state teaches us that as a united humanity we can overcome any obstacle even that which once seemed impossible, can be done. The dream of a free South Africa teaches us that the dream of a new world in which there is hope, dignity and prosperity for all is indeed possible. Mandela understood and held a deep belief that the world needs peace.

Ladies and gentlemen; I want to repeat what OR Tambo the former President of the African National Congress (ANC) said on the occasion of the first anniversary of the assassination of Olaf Palme, former President of Sweden in 1964. he said and I quote: “the achievement of peace itself requires that the world community should abolish underdevelopment and guarantee the social progress of all peoples. While the world is divided between the super-rich and the abjectly poor there can be no peace. As long as the super-rich pour enormous resources into the development of weapons of mass destruction, it will be impossible to banish hunger both within the developed countries themselves and in the Third World.” It was this vision of world peace that Madiba shared with this great leader of humanity.

Mandela is no more but his legacy lives. His dream will never die!

Many from across the world ask us how shall we let the legacy of Mandela live on? How shall we keep his dream alive? Today, I invite you firstly as citizens of a free world coming from diverse countries and secondly as brothers and sisters in humanity, let us work together to build more bridges that can connect South Africa and the entire African continent-let us put an end to underdevelopment, Afro-pessimism and everything that hinders progress. In Madiba's honour let us commit ourselves to creating opportunities for the 95 million unemployed youth in Africa, let us open up new possibilities in trade and investment. Let us strengthen the cultural, social, political and economic bonds that can give concrete expression to the world that Madiba dreamed of and passionately struggle for.

As we contemplate the amazing legacy of Mandela, we must reflect on the fact that Madiba was able to build up and maintain a devoted following in South Africa, Africa, and its diaspora even during almost three decades in jail. Mandela’s presidency, from 1994 to 1999, also saw him working tirelessly as he sought to reconcile a deeply divided society, heal a conflict-ridden Africa, and expend immense efforts in building bridges with the African Diaspora, thus leaving us a powerful legacy of nation-building, continental renewal, and diasporic solidarity. He understood that to build unity, achieve development goals and overcome the endemic scourge of poverty, we have to stand together in the spirit of international solidarity as he so eloquently quoted the African proverb: “The attacks of the wild beast cannot be averted with only bare hands.”

Madiba’s visit to Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, Senegal, and Guinea in 1962 had a profound impact on him, providing great insights into continental diplomacy and the tactics of other liberation movements. He was particularly influenced by Algeria’s Front de Libération Nationale, and had always adopted a much broader pan-African vision of our country’s struggle. It is therefore no surprise that in the anti-apartheid era, many members of the African National Congress were sheltered during the apartheid struggle by many neighbouring countries, often at huge costs to themselves.

Today, we say to all these states, as indeed Madiba and the ANC government has done over the past two decades, our nation owes you an immense debt of gratitude. In the spirit of our fallen hero, we say that Madiba is no more, but his struggle lives on and the dream shall never die.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was the late Che' Guevara who said: “As long as there is a single human-being suffering, anywhere in the world, our struggle cannot be over.”  Madiba distinguished himself and endeared himself to the vast majority of millions all over the world as post 1994 international solidarity became a cornerstone of successive ANC governments. He was indeed a true internationalist and as the Kenyan scholar Ali Mazrui noted: “If in the last half of the twentieth century there was one single statesman in the world who came closest to being morally number one among leaders of the human race, Nelson Mandela was probably such a person.” The world shall sorely miss you Tata Madiba, but your legacy lives on, and your dream of a united humanity, a humanity at peace with itself and a humanity free of war and enjoying freedom, peace and prosperity shall never die!

I want to paraphrase what Nelson Mandela said at the funeral of OR Tambo, former President of the ANC and diplomat extraordinaire on the 2nd May 1998:

A great giant who strode the globe like a colossus has fallen.
A mind whose thoughts have opened the doors to our liberty has ceased to function.
A heart whose dreams gave hope to the despised has for ever lost its beat.
The gentle voice whose measured words of reason shook the thrones of tyrants has been silenced. Peoples of the world!

Here lies before you the body of a man who is tied to us all by an umbilical cord which cannot be broken.
We say he has departed. But can we allow him to depart while we live!
Can we say Nelson Mandela is no more, while we walk this solid earth!
Mandela lived not because he could breathe.
He lived not because blood flowed through his veins.

Mandela lived not because he did all the things that all of us as ordinary men and women do.
Mandela lived because he had surrendered his very being to the people.
He lived because his very being embodied love, an idea, a hope, an aspiration, a vision.
While he lived, our minds would never quite formulate the thought that this man is other than what the naked eye could see.

The legacy lives on and his dream will never die!

Tata Madiba as you prepare to go to your place of rest, we repeat the words:

'This is the final struggle
 Let us group together, and tomorrow
 The World
  Will be the human race.'

Let us all strive for a world that is truly free, where justice, peace and prosperity reigns. In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, as we make final preparations to lay this great soul to rest we borrow the words of Martin Luther King Jnr and say to Madiba, "Free at last, free at last, thank God Madiba you are free at last.'

Go well hero amongst heroes!
Until we meet again!
Hamba kahle Tata!

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale
Pretoria
0084

 

 

 

 

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