For almost half a century, the African continent has celebrated Africa Day to mark the birth of the Organisation of African Unity. It is a declaration of solidarity among the peoples of Africa, which we, in South Africa, are proud to support.
As the President of the Inkatha Freedom Party, I am honoured to rise and share this celebration.
This year is significant, in that we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the African Union which was born out of the Organisation of African Unity. We celebrate, also, the 10th anniversary of the New Partnership for Africa's
Development, which is the strategic vision of the AU to address the challenges on the African continent.
There is, perhaps, no better time than now for the Inkatha Freedom Party to record our support for the candidacy of the Honourable Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the Chair of the AU Commission. The Honourable Minister is highly qualified to strengthen the AU and to strengthen South Africa's contribution to the socio-economic development of our continent.
This year, the celebration of Africa Day is also placed within the context of the centennial celebration of the liberation movement. It is right that we honour the contributions made by all the people of Africa to the achievement of South Africa's freedom.
There are giants who walked with us, and championed the end of oppression. There are leaders across our continent who must be honoured. I cannot help but think of the many occasions on which I personally experienced the support and friendship of African leaders.
In the midst of our liberation struggle, I travelled to Lusaka to thank President Kenneth Kaunda for giving sanctuary to our political exiles. I visited President Julius Nyerere in Dar es Salaam to do the same. I was a guest of President Hastings Banda at the celebration of Malawi's independence, and was invited to Liberia by President William Tolbert.
I was privileged to attend the Africa-American Dialogue Series in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, where I met Emperor Haile Selassie and members of his Government.
I was humbled to receive plane tickets from President Olusegan Obasanjo to visit Lagos, Nigeria in 1976, where I spoke at the Institute for International Affairs on the very day Pretoria granted so-called "independence" to Transkei.
When the OAU bestowed a posthumous award on Inkosi Albert Luthuli, through King Moshoeshoe II, I travelled with Ma Luthuli to Lesotho where I delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of the entire liberation movement. I was also received there by Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan.
Indeed, I was warmly received by many African Heads of State, and I still thank God for their support. President Joachim Chissano once told me that when they enquired who I was, on hearing my condemnation of Apartheid, Mr
Oliver Tambo told them, "That is our man."
It was President Kaunda who advised me on how we could operate as "a cohesive force" when the ANC and other liberation parties were banned. He recommended that I launch a membership based organisation. Thus, with the
support and encouragement of liberation leaders, I founded Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, the forerunner of the IFP.
We remember these milestones in the history of our country as we celebrate Africa Day in 2012. Let us never forget that many hands helped us to freedom. Let us now be among the many hands that bring a cultural renaissance to the African continent.
South Africa is part of Africa, both in our hearts and in the reality of our diverse population. At any one time, we host millions of Africans of other nationalities, benefitting from their presence, their skills and their culture.
But I am ashamed that we see them as foreigners, rather than brothers, sisters and friends. I remember the laws of Apartheid South Africa, which referred to foreign nationals as "aliens". It reflected our isolationism. We changed the law, but we have yet to change our mindset. South Africa still struggles with xenophobia.
We have a responsibility to eliminate all forms of alienation, exclusion and cultural oppression in Africa. That is part of the AU Charter for an African Cultural Renaissance. The Charter also tasks us with asserting the dignity of all the peoples of Africa, preserving African cultural heritage and integrating cultural objectives in our development strategies.
The IFP supports these objectives. We support the Cultural Renaissance of Africa.