Deputy Minister Tandi Mahambehlala: Youth Month Kalushi movie screening

10 June 2017

Acting FPB CEO  Mr Mmberegeni Dzebu
All distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Boys and Girls

"For Those Dead, Our Dead . . ."

When you get the nomination, the award, the promotion,

think about the ones who died.

When you are at the reception, on the delegation, on the commission,

think about the ones who died.

When you have won the vote, and the crowd congratulates you,

think about the ones who died.

When you're cheered as you go up to the speaker's platform with the leaders,

think about the ones who died.

When you're picked up at the airport in the big city,

think about the ones who died.

When it's your turn to talk into the microphone,

when the tv cameras focus on you,

think about the ones who died.

When you become the one who gives out the certificates, orders, permission,

think about the ones who died.

When the little old lady comes to you with her problem, her little piece of land,

think about the ones who died.

See them without their shirts, being dragged, gushing blood, wearing hoods, blown to pieces,

submerged in tubs, getting electric shocks,

their eyes gouged out,

their throats cut, riddled with bullets,

dumped along the side of the road,

in holes they dug themselves, in mass graves,

or just lying on the ground, enriching the soil of wild plants:

You represent them.

The ones who died

delegated you.

This melancholic but poignant poem by Ernesto Cardenal Martinez a Nicaraguan revolutionary, serves as daunting reminder to all of us, black and white, that we are truly indebted to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for this democracy.

Often, we are reminded by people that this democracy was not free. South Africans as well as our African brothers and sisters who actively fought against Apartheid felt the brunt of the vicious and often brutal violence of the regime.   Many of our national heroes were killed in the frontlines of the war against this white supremacist and fascist regime. Ruth First, Dulcie September, Stephen Bantu Biko, Chris Hani and Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu are just a few of our brave warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of democracy and justice.

The African National Congress as a liberation movement has always towered on the shoulders of young people.  The ‘76 Soweto Uprising, the child warriors of the 80’s, we remember the role that the Ashley Kriels and Coline Williams, the Cradock 4 and so many countless others have played.  Look them up in the history books.  Google these names and you will discover ordinary young people just like yourselves, inspired to take on the might of the Apartheid regime in the quest for justice and democracy.  South Africa has produced so many outstanding leaders, Lembede, Mandela, Tambo and Sisulu and many others, who began their journeys as young activists.   This is also true when assessing the legacies of Sobukwe, Biko and others who notwithstanding their different political philosophies and affiliations, were young lions in the first line of defence in the struggle for liberation. We shall always remember young people who struggled for liberation as not having done so in vain.

June is celebrated as Youth Month in South Africa, with a specific focus on 16 June, which is also known as Youth Day. Youth Month pays tribute to the school pupils who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprising in Soweto.  This year marks the 41st anniversary of the Soweto uprisings.  On 16 June 1976, more than 15 000 students gathered at Orlando West Secondary School with the intention of participating in a peaceful march to the nearby Orlando Stadium.  The demonstration had been planned in protest against the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction at schools.  However, the police and armed forces responded to the protest violently and the first fatality of the day was Hector Pieterson, a 12 year old pupil who was shot by the police. It is believed that 175 others were also killed that day.  This violent backlash to what was meant to be a peaceful march caught the attention of the international community. After this event, many countries imposed sanctions on South Africa in an attempt to force the apartheid government to ease its repressive rule.

I ask you young people to remember those who died, never ever forget that the birth of South African democracy, was paved in the blood of these men and women, they died for your freedom.  You may be too young to remember but your parents know the truth, and I call on your generation to continue the legacy of honouring our national heroes and pay tribute to them in all we do. Play Your Part.

In every facet of our work as public representatives we hold the aspirations of those who have come before us and those who will inherit the effects of our contribution to this on-going revolution. Indeed the revolution is on-going. As long as our unemployment rate hovers around 27 percent we are not yet Uhuru. Our freedom is still under major construction particularly because our youth at the centre of our daily struggles as a nation. These are struggles of unemployment, violent abuse against women and children, crime and a general lack of social cohesion.

I cannot place enough emphasis on the importance of South Africa’s storytellers in reminding our nation and the world of such leaders.

The Kalushi film is important for us as a nation, it allows us to reflect on how our precious democracy was obtained. In the process we must educate our youth about the martyrs like Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Embracing our collective history enhances our prospects of social cohesion as a nation.

This is the significance of youth day for all of us.  The role played by young people in helping South Africa become a better place for all must be emphasised.

It is up to you to take up the opportunities created from our hard won freedom, and work with government and civil society, to indeed fulfill the potential of our beautiful country.

Join me in watching Kalushi, and honour our fallen heroes, cherish our freedom, and work hard, each and every one of you, to ensure that our country grows from strength to strength.

I thank you.

Issued by: Department of Communications

Speech date:: 
Saturday, June 10, 2017