Youth Day, 16 June 2020
Remembering and building on 1976
I am an African. I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land. – Thabo Mbeki
I am an African and I am bonded to you by our common identity as African, by our common humanity. Today is Africa Day, it is a day to celebrate our culture, a reminder of the imperative need to preserve it. It is a day to celebrate you, the people of this continent. Today we celebrate all that defines our native land. And as such I cannot help but ponder on what it could possibly mean to be an African.
Being an African is deeper than being or pertaining to African descent. It is a fortune, one that exceeds that of the gleaming elusive stone found in the golden mines of Johannesburg. Being an African correlates directly with the ability to understand, to care and to love. Being an African equates to empathy, it means that you can resonate with your fellow brothers and sisters in other words, a pain that they bear is a pain you too bear. Ubuntu lies at the core of our loving nation, it is an ideology that every African understands and thus being an African is being whoever you wish to be as long as it fits into what seems to be at the core of the ‘African value system’; Ubuntu, love, unity and the ability to understand.
Being an African is a choice, it is being whoever you wish to be under the scorching sun and on the dusty roads that have now become the face of our beautiful continent. It is our persistent love and affection for all that defines our beautiful continent that makes us African. Love is our binding factor, whether you are from Congo, Malawi, Zambia, Burundi or any other nation of the African continent, you are an African! And although we are yet to mark our stamp in the world… we will. Africa will rise and her wings of love will spread warmth in an ever so numbed world. In the words of Steve Biko, ‘’the great powers of the world may have done wonders in giving the world an industrial and military look, but the great gift still has to come from Africa – giving the world a more human face.’’
Let us assert our identity as African, and as such spread love, happiness and prosperity. We are in the words of Thabo Mbeki formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land and whatever their own actions, they remain still, a part of us, we are the grandchildren of the warrior men and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers that Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom.
We are Africans. We are the people of the sun, and the world will feel the warmth and love that is Africa.
Happy Africa Day!
Head of Transformation Portfolio