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ANCWL President speech at Madiba Memorial

ANCWL President speech at Madiba Memorial

11 December 2013

The Mandela family
Leadership and members of the ANC and ANCWL
Women of our country and continent Distinguished guests Comrades and friends,

Allow me first to convey once more our deepest condolences to the family of the first President of Democratic South Africa, the founding father of the new nation, a selfless fighter for freedom, a finest son of the revolution, a nation-builder, a world icon, a humble and loyal servant of the people, Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Comrades, you know by now that after a long illness, on the 5th of December, Madiba passed on. He was 95 years old.

Nelson Mandela joined the ANC in 1942. His life he dedicated to the service of the people, to Africa and to the world. He was a very special person. He left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of every person he met. He touched many lives with his warm personality and royal values. The memorial service in Soweto yesterday bears testimony to Madiba`s greatness. He came to be respected by friends and foes alike for his capacity to forgive even after enduring 27 years in prison. Mandela was larger than life. It was he with the ANC leadership who saved this country from a descent into chaos and civil war when in 1993 he called for calm after Cde Chris Hani was murdered in cold-blood.

I remember he said: "With all the authority at my command, I therefore appeal to all our people to remain calm and to honour the memory of Chris Hani by remaining a disciplined force for peace." What he said about Hani`s fight for a just society free from violence, this week that`s blessed with the showers of rain following the passing of a great leader, beckons us to say the same of him. Like Hani, "he is a martyr to the cause of justice and peace. His death demands of us that we pursue that cause with even greater vigour and determination." We are here today in our great numbers because the voice of women of our country, the ANCWL, has directed us as loyal members and leaders of your movement to have assembled all those who loved Madiba and freedom, together to celebrate his life and most treasured contribution to humanity.

We did so precisely because we were held together by the unprecedented unity of the people of the world who lovingly and caringly soothed our grieving hearts as we bid farewell to a saint none would voluntarily agree to let go. The avalanche of tributes and messages of support extended to our people and the Mandela family goes to show that his noble deeds speak for themselves. And thus we had to assemble the strength we have left to celebrate his life, and in spite of this loss unparalleled to urge you to pick up the spear.

It was his selfless service that earned him recognition as a global statesman and the many accolades bestowed upon him. Among the many is the esteemed Isithwalandwe, from the ANC, the National Order of Mapungubwe, from the democratic state, and the Nobel Peace Prize. Indeed the world has heard the clarion call to bid farewell to a unique leader who gave his life in pursuance of the Freedom Charter`s vision of a South Africa that is a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations." Over 90 Heads of State and Government will grace with their presence the State Funeral in Honour of Madiba. This is precisely because in keeping with the dictates of the Freedom Charter, as our first democratic President, working with the ANC collective, he had ensured that democratic South Africa strives consistently to maintain world peace and to see settled all international disputes by negotiation - not war. December 5 indeed will go down as a landmark in our history because from that day, December 5, we will no more refresh our mortal eyes with the sight of an inspiring, lifelong member and leader of the ANC who dedicated his life to the struggle for the liberation of his people and of the people of the world. As the ANCWL we are grateful for the spirit of unity that has united our people and the people of the world in honour of Madiba. This is a momentous juncture in the life of our people.

Fellow South Africans, when we celebrated in August heroic deeds of women, we put forward as our theme "A Centenary of Working Together towards Sustainable Women Empowerment and Gender Equality." The memory of a stately farewell for Madiba in the centenary of the women`s struggle should serve to remind all of us of the need tirelessly to pursue the goal of sustainable women emancipation and gender equality. Cde Nelson Mandela was a champion of gender equality.

Madiba departed in the very year that we celebrate heroines of the struggle who in 1913 intensified bravely the struggle against racial domination - against an injustice that was symbolised by the dompass, the Land Act of
1913 and other unjust laws. It is indeed our critical role as women and patriotic men to work together to build the kind of society that`s envisaged in the Freedom Charter and in South Africa`s Constitution. Under the clause, "the people shall govern," the Freedom Charter says that: "The rights of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex." We want nothing less than a better life for all! It is this that Tata Madiba stood for. It is this that earned him international stature. We encourage young women in particular to follow the example of our national heroes the stature of Cde Mandela, Cde OR Tambo and Cde Walter Sisulu, and to walk, constant as the northern star, on the footprints of our national heroines, the likes of Cde Charlotte Maxeke, Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Albertina Sisulu and Adelaide Tambo. As an integral component of the ANC, the WL has always defended the rights of women to equality, justice, freedom and security. As we said in the Women`s Charter of 1954 "As women there rests upon us also the burden of removing from our society all the social differences developed in past times between men and women, which have the effect of keeping our sex in a position of inferiority and subordination."

Notwithstanding the gains of democracy, some of the social ills our leaders including Cde Mandela had fought against, still pervade our homes, our schools and our communities. Violence against women and children remains rampant as we strive to show as part of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. An eye-opening report on gender violence was compiled by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the World Health Organisation and the SA Medical Research Council. It showed that 47% of women in Africa remain subjected to physical or sexual violence, compared to 35% of women living under such conditions globally. This research also confirms reports that women abusers still include people known to the victims, like lovers and partners. Let`s use this moment to remind all of us especially the young that gender violence is inimical to everything Madiba stood for. It`s always easy to accuse government for all the ills of society. But we all know that since the democratic breakthrough in 1994, the ANC government has done all in its power to defend women`s rights. It remains for all of us together to build on this work in honour of the heroes and heroines of the land. The time is now to take charge of our lives. To keep quiet when you see another woman suffer is to collude with perpetrators.

We should all commit, as the ANCWL has done, to setting in motion an historical process certainly to ensure never again are women`s lives condemned to the proverbial kitchen, in the margins of economic life, and treated like children. This country we built with the sweat and blood of thousands of martyrs. We decolonised this beautiful continent that brims with potential. We did this as women and men of Africa. In the history of the struggle for development and a better society, women have always been in the forefront, thus the centenary of women`s struggles we celebrate this year. We invite all of you to walk with us in this inspirational journey the end of which should bring better lives to women and children as Madiba deeply wished. This is what we promise you today as ANC women, a better life for all our people, born of love for country, sacrifice and struggle.

A brighter future we must as our historical task create, if not for ourselves, for our children and for our children`s children. In the footsteps of the women who stormed the Union Buildings in August 1959 now is the time for us to renew the women`s vow that: "We shall not rest until we have won for our children their fundamental right to freedom, justice and security." Our leaders have played their role. Cde Nelson Mandela undertook and like a brave warrior completed his long walk to freedom, without looking back. Now is the time for you to take to even greater heights the struggle to create a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous African state. Your active role in all the campaigns of the ANC and ANCWL will indeed make a difference in our lives.

It is through your activism in ANC and WL structures that we can defend and advance the revolution. Let us intensify in honour of Madiba the emancipatory work that we do for women and children, for the benefit of all of humanity.

The tributes coming from all over the world since Madiba was admitted in hospital say with neither discord nor dissonance that like Caesar, indeed he bestrode the world like a colossus. But unlike Caesar, his life did radiate with humility, compassion and a rare brand of humanity that earned him the love and respect of the people of South Africa, Africa and the World. Madiba understood that our country will always be indebted to the international community for supporting our legitimate struggle to end the apartheid crime against humanity. We`re humbled by the many world leaders and international delegations that came home to bid farewell to Madiba. It is for these reasons that on 15 December, the world will lock its eyes on the southern tip of Africa with dignity to bid farewell to the founding father of the South African nation.

It is for this reasons that on that day, 15 December, the over 90 Heads of State and Government who`ve graced our shores will bear witness to the sweet chariot carrying home a patriot par excellence. History does obey its own laws. The 15th of December is the eve of the 52th anniversary of the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe, founded on 16 December 1961, with Madiba as first Commander in Chief. We recommit therefore to look after the ex-combatants of MK and other forces who fought bravely against apartheid. Comrades and friends, Our people are indebted to Tata Madiba`s family for sharing him with us, and for also fighting with us on the side of the people against tyranny and domination. Madiba stood for national reconciliation, for nation-building, for peace all over the world and for unity.

Every time we speak and act in unity we will be projecting and promoting Madiba`s legacy. He will be remembered worldwide for his values and dedication to the service of humanity. It is in this spirit that we express our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Mrs Graca Machel, his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, his children Makaziwe, Zenani, Zindziswa, Malengani Machel, Josina Machel, his grand-children and great-grandchildren.

I believe I`m speaking for all of us when I say we are grateful to Tata Madiba and his family for everything they have done for us as a people and as members of the human race. He will continue to guide all of us as we accelerate the long walk towards a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society. I have no hesitation to say in Madiba`s words at his inauguration as President in 1994, that each one of us is and will remain "as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld." We will not fall apart as the doomsayers will have us do. The long walk, we shall complete, united in our diversity. Lastly, we say now as we did say of Madiba while he was still among us: We have you, Madiba, as our nearest and brightest star to guide us on our way.

Even as you join OR Tambo and Walter Sisulu whose lives had been tied to yours by an umbilical cord which cannot be broken, we will not get lost, we will not fail you.

Lala ngoxolo Madiba! Ngiyabonga!

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