SA: Zuma: Address by the President of South Africa, at the 100 year celebration conference of the women’s organisation of the united congregational church of Southern African KZN region (31/03/2012)

31st March 2012

Date: 31/03/2012

Source: The Presidency

Title: SA: Zuma: Address by the President of South Africa, at the 100 year celebration conference of the women’s organisation of the united congregational church of Southern African KZN region

Programme Directors;
Members of the UCCSA demonition;
Members of the UCCSA Synod;
Members of KZN Region;
Members of the Isililo Samabandla KwaZulu Natal;
Iziphika Nenhlanzeko;
Abefundisi, nabazalwana;

It is with great pleasure that I am amongst you today to celebrate and congratulate the Women’s United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, Isililo Samabandla, on its 100 year anniversary.

This is a momentous occasion which marks a milestone achieved by the Isililo Samabandla.

It is an important day in our history to celebrate with you, as we recall that the UCCSA was the spiritual home of two key founding fathers and former Presidents of the ANC, Dr John Langalibalele Dube and Inkosi Albert Luthuli.

This church has a proud history dating back almost 200 years, to the arrival of the first missionaries in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

On 31 March 1799, Dr Theodorus van der Kemp, a Hollander, started missionary work in the Cape Colony. In 1801, he established the first Congregational church in southern Africa in Bethelsdorp in Port Elizabeth.

Labe selikhula lidlondlobala ke lelibandla, njengoba amalungu esevile ku 300 000.

Umlando uyasibikela ngo mhlangano wesikhumbuzo samaBandla owawuse-Groutville ngo July 1912, la okwakuhlangene izithunywa zamaBandla, kwasungulwa khona iSililo.

As we celebrate with you today, we pay homage to those who established Isililo, as a sanctuary for women and a platform for devotion as well as the strengthening of family and societal values.

In the history of this church, we also remember some of the prominent missionaries such as the reverend William Cullen Wilcox.

He arrived in South Africa in 1881 from the United States of America and settled in Inanda as a member of the missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He stayed from 1881 until 1919, when they were forced out of the country.

Rev Wilcox became like a father figure to ANC founding president Dr John Dube. He took a 16 year old Dr Dube to the United States at the request of his mother, who wanted the young Dube to get an education. It is said that Dr John Dube’s rise to national and international prominence owes much to the unwavering friendship and mentoring of missionaries William and Ida Belle Wilcox.

This remarkable couple was not only willing to preach but also to go down into the trenches and fight for the liberation struggle.

It is noteworthy that in 1909 the Wilcox family founded the Zulu Industrial Improvement Company, the first shareholding company in South Africa’s history.

It was between a couple of sympathetic whites and 300 black South Africans, for the purpose of giving them the economic power to withstand the land-grabbing movement of the white colonialists in Natal.

That was probably the first ever black economic empowerment venture, as early as in the last century. The Company was successful in providing land to thousands of Zulus in Natal. Alarmed by the fact that Blacks owned land, the Whites in Natal worked to eject the Wilcox familys from South Africa, eventually driving the Company into bankruptcy and driving them out of South Africa in 1918-19.

Rev Wilcox returned to the United States penniless, and died a poor man with nothing to show for his 38-year investment in the liberation struggle for South Africa.

In 2009 we gave Rev Wilcox the prestigious Order of the Grand Companions of O.R Tambo for his contribution to the fight against colonial oppression and racism.

His life indicates the rich history of the church in fighting colonialism and oppression.

Sikhumbula nabefundisi abavelele balelibandla abayibeka induku ebandla ngezikhathi ezinzima zobandlululo, njengobaba uMfundisi uBK Dludla.

Bomama nodadewethu,

Omama beUCCSA bakwazi ukwakha Isililo yize kwakunzima ngenxa yobandlululo nengcindezelo, ngo July 1912, izinyangana ezimbalwa nje emva kokusungulwa kwe ANC.

Siyakhumbula ukuthi omama beSililo babewa bevuka, behamba ngezinyawo, ngezitimela, bephatha imiphako befafaza iVangeli. Baphumelela ngisho ukulifinyelelisa ezindaweni la kukhulunywa ulimi olwehlukile kolwesiZulu.

The year 2012 is also a significant year not only for the UCCSA but also for the oldest liberation struggle in the African continent, the ANC, as it also turned 100 years old this year.

The ANC’s history is rooted in the church. Some of its founding fathers and early leaders were believers and Christians in particular.

As a result Christianity was embedded in the ANC movement since inception.

The leaders to which we can attribute this to are:
• Reverend John Langalibalele Dube (the first President of the ANC and minister of the Congregational Church)
• Mr Mapogo Makgatho was the second President of the ANC, who was also methodist leader and lay preacher.
• Reverend ZR Mahabane, the third President of the ANC and minister of the AME church and President of the Interdenominational African Ministers Federation (what is today known as IDAMASA).
• Reverend W Rubusana, one the four original vice Presidents of the ANC was the Vice-Chairman of the Congregational Union of South Africa.
• Charlotte Maxeke who attended the founding conference of the ANC, was also a lay preacher at the AME Church.

These men, together with women of their time, in the context of their Christian beliefs, found it intolerable and atrocious that those created in the image of God could be subjected to pain and prejudice.

They strongly felt that Christian efforts alone were not enough to combat oppression, and that to secure the freedom from oppression, it had to be accompanied by their personal involvement in the liberation struggle.

We salute the role of women in that struggle to free us all from the shackles of oppression.

As early as 1912, in what was probably the first mass passive resistance campaign in our country, women encouraged miners in Newcastle to strike against starvation wages.

In 1913, Women in the Free State protested against laws which forced them to carry passes.

In 1918, Charlotte Maxeke started the first formal women’s organization, the Bantu Women's League, which was created to resist the pass laws.

In the 1930s and 1940s there were many instances of mass protests, demonstrations and passive resistance campaigns in which women participated.

We tend to salute and celebrate male freedom fighters and forget the women who supported them in various ways.

These women include those who willingly as difficult as it must have been, gave up their sons and husbands to the struggle.

This they did without having any guarantee that they would return home unharmed.

Some spent sleepless nights praying for the safe return of not only their loved ones but for all freedom fighters.

It was these prayers amongst other things, that helped us get through the darkest days.

Many women were also members of the liberation movement, and were leaders in their own right, while also belonging to the church, getting their spiritual sustenance from the church.

Today we remember women who also played their roles in the background, some of whom were members of the UCCSA, such as Mama Nokutela Dube, wife of President John Dube and Mama Nokukhanya Luthuli, wife of Chief Albert Luthuli.

Mama Nokutela Dube was a talented musician, a great composer and a great music teacher, and together with her husband produced a Zulu Song Book published in 1911. One of the songs in that song book “A Prayer for the Children of Ohlange” is similar to the tune of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica but with different words.

History also tells us that while they toured different churches and community halls in the United States, Dr Dube spoke about the need for education for his people in Natal, while Nokutela Dube sang for the crowds. They complemented each other well, with Dr Dube as a great orator while Nokutela was a wonderful musician.

It was through these tours that they managed to pay for their maintenance and studies in the United States and also raised enough money to start Ohlange Institute when they returned to South Africa.

Another remarkable woman who has been part of this church and also an influential member of Isililo is Mama Nokukhanya Luthuli.

Mama Nokukhanya distinguished herself as a vegetable, fruits and sugar cane farmer and was a role model to other farmers.

This was to prove most invaluable when Chief Luthuli’s time was taken up as Chief of Groutville and by politics as President of the ANC. Her industriousness helped to supplement the family income.

Mama Nokukhanya was also an active community member and opened up a post office at her home for the residents of Groutville.

She also led and mobilised the women of Groutville, leading a movement for the establishment of a local clinic.

Her activism could was clearly visible through her work in the Groutville branch of the ‘Daughters of Africa’, a forerunner to the ANC Women’s League of which she was a founding member.

She also participated actively in struggles against the extension of passes to women.

In 1955 she was also elected as a delegate from Groutville to the ANC national conference in Bloemfontein.

When Chief Luthuli won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961, Mama Nokukhanya was with him as they travelled to Oslo to receive this prestigious award.

As members of Isililo you walk in the shadows of these great women, who should inspire you to do great things and achieve the best in everything you do for the communities you reside in.

The liberation struggle might be over, but we are faced with a different form of struggle that needs the same level of commitment, as that which was demonstrated during the dark years of apartheid.

The struggles against poverty, inequality and unemployment and related ills such as the scourge of HIV and AIDS, women and child abuse and a host of other societal skills still continues.

Women in the church must be found among those who are in the forefront of these struggles.

Though some of these challenges can be addressed by government, success will only be achieved if government worked together and in partnership with all sections of our society, including women in the church, such as omama beSililo.

As government today we have a Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities which was formed to specifically look at all challenges that face women today.

A major intervention in the pipeline, is the pending Gender Equality Bill, which is currently in its consultation and drafting stage.

The Bill will review the gaps in current legislation and ensure compliance in terms of women empowerment and gender equality in the national agenda.

The Bill will also help to enforce the 50/50 parity across the public and private sectors.

We have also established the Department of Rural Development, which amongst others, should develop a strategy for rural women’s development.

The department also promotes education and skills development for women and girls, including in the science technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Through the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department is supporting the development of cooperatives to promote women empowerment. The United Nations has declared this year as the International Year of Cooperatives.

Another programme which is done in partnership with Department of Human Settlement is that of alternative indigenous building methods.

Women cooperatives located in villages such as Gombani in Limpopo are participating in the reduction of the housing backlog by taking turns in building houses for each other.

We also urge Isililo to partner government in some progressive campaigns that promote women’s rights.

We invite you to partner government through the national Department of Traditional Affairs, as well as the Widowed Women of South Africa (WWOSA) and other Faith-Based organizations to remove certain cultural and religious and traditional practices that are harmful to women and girls.

These include ukuthwala, ukungena as well as the succession and inheritance rights which usually ride roughshod on the rights of women.

Isikhathi esiningi omama namantombazane ababhekana nalezizinkinga abalekelelwa ngoba kuthiwa zingamasiko. Sithi amasiko aphikisana namalungelo abantu abhalwe kumthethosisekelo wezwe awavunyelwe neze.

Asibasize omama ababhekene nalezizinkinga zokuhlukunyezwa singomama beSililo, sibaxhase ngazozonke izindlela, singabasoli ngoba akulona iphutha labo ukuhlukunyezwa.

Bodadewethu nomama,

Siyacela ukuba futhi sibambisane futhi ukuqwashisa ngezinto eziyinkohlakalo nehlazo ezenzeka emiphakathini yethu, ezifana nokudlwengula kwabesifazane nezingane imbala.

Asilazi lelihlazo livelaphi ngempela ngoba sakhuliswa ngendlela yokubazisa abesimame kanye nokuvikela izingane ikakhulukazi ezamantombazane.

Sicela Isililo sisebenze nathi njengohulumeni ukufundisa izingane ukuthi zilubike loludaba noma ngabe lwenzeka ngaphakathi emndenini ukuze izigilamkhuba zibanjwe zifakwe ejele.

Asikwazi ukwakha isizwe esisimeme uma izingane nabezifazane behlukunyezwa bephila kanzima.

Bomama nodadewethu,

Uyancomeka umsebenzi weSililo wokusungula umbutho wezintombi ukugqugquzela impilo yobungcwele emantombazaneni.

Lokhu kuzosiza ukwakha omama bakusasa abaqotho abaphila ngezwi nangenkambiso yenkolo.

Bomama besililo,

Siyanihalalisela ngokugubha iminyaka eyikhulu yonke niqhuba ivangeli nemisebenzi emihle enkonzweni nasemphakathini.

Sengathi ibandla lingakhula lidlondlobale njalo.

I wish you a Happy 100 year anniversary.

I Thank You.

Siyalihalalisela kakhulu ibandla le UCCSA kanye neSililo Samabandla ngokuqeda iminyaka eyikhulu. Engathi Inkosi inganibusisa ngeminye eminingi elandelayo. Nihlale nibumbene njalo nisebenzela umdali kanye nezwe lakithi.