Remarks by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Co-Chair of the Asian-African Ministerial Meeting, at the African-Asian Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, 20 April 2015
Your Excellency and Co-Chair, Minister Retno Marsudi,
Ladies and gentleman,
I am honoured to join my Colleague and Co-Chair on this important occasion marking the 10th Anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP) and the 60th Anniversary of the historic Bandung Conference.
In the 60 years since our leaders converged not far away from here, in Bandung, to build a strong foundation for the solidarity between Africa and Asia, the world has changed. Colonialism has since been defeated. We are also witnessing the reconfiguration of the Post-World War Two global order, thanks to the rise of Asia and Africa on the economic and political front.
But our struggle for a better world is far from over, and this is what makes our gathering so significant. Institutions of global governance remain unchanged. Neo-colonialism is staring us in the eyes. Poverty and inequality are a reality all over the world. War and insecurity continue to afflict many of our countries.
Our struggle is far from over! Afro-Asian solidarity is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.
Indonesia has a lot of significance for South Africa. Our two countries were once colonised by the Dutch. We fought together, and some eminent Indonesian figures like Imam Yusuf who brought Islam to South Africa, are to this day household names in our country.
We are therefore happy to be part of these celebrations which coincide with the celebration of our own freedom at home which takes place every month of April. The fact that we celebrate the anniversary of the Afro-Asian Solidarity meeting in Indonesia, adds an additional sense of history to this event.
Our first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela, aptly captured the solidarity the world showed to the oppressed and marginalised in South Africa when he said(and I quote),
“We, the people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its bosom, that we, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil.”
This statement of fact was indeed a salute to the Asian and African leaders who assembled here in Indonesia 60 years ago, collectively chastising the regimes which, on the basis of race, oppressed and marginalised the majority of our people, subjecting us to the humiliation of being non-citizens in the land of our birth.
It was by both coincidence and force of history that the Freedom Charter of the African National Congress which continue to inspire us as a vision for a better South Africa, was also adopted almost 60 years ago, in June 1955.
Over the past decades, the countries of Asia and Africa have all been liberated and politically emancipated. While we are still faced with developmental challenges, Asia and Africa have become major growth engines of the global economy as well as leaders in innovation and development.
It is important to recall the Bandung Summit Communiqué which stated that "The Asian-African Conference considered problems of common interest and concern to countries of Asia and Africa and discussed ways and means by which their people could achieve fuller economic, cultural and political cooperation."
The 1955 Summit resolved to “effectively contribute to the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security, while cooperation in the economic, social and cultural fields would help bring about the common prosperity and well-being of all."
Today, our intercontinental cooperation is marked by a myriad of bilateral, trilateral and multilateral pacts and agreements, almost all reflecting the founding principles as expressed in Bandung 60 years ago.
We have jointly overcome the legacies and impediments to our growth and development, forcibly imposed upon us, to become leading players in trying to reshape a new, equitable, global order.
In this, the 70th year of the founding of the United Nations, we as Asia and Africa have a unique opportunity to ensure that the United Nations is fundamentally reformed and representative of the new global reality of today.
A better world is within reach. We must seize the opportunity.
We therefore look forward to our deliberations and the inspiration we will all draw from this gathering.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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