Eshowe: 1 October 2011
I thank the Phambili Ntuthuko Community
Development Cooperative for inviting me to speak to you today,
and I thank the local community for welcoming me here as warmly
as you always do.
I must first congratulate the people of this
community for having this Phambili Ntuthuko Community
Cooperatives are the first step towards real development.
That is why when I was Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government
I decided to send some of our then young people to the Coady
Institute at St Xavier University in Canada.
They went to study cooperatives and to learn
about mobilisation of savings. Some of these people became
prominent leaders in our country.
One that all of you will remember was Ms
Eileen Nokukhanya KaNkosi-Shandu. As you know she not only
became a Deputy Minister under the National Government, but she
was a leader of the IFP's Women's Brigade and I appointed her as
the first female Minister of Education in KwaZulu Natal. I want
to encourage members of this cooperative because while you must
expect government to help you with taxpayers' money that both
the provincial government and national government control, you
expect no more than government to help you to help yourselves.
Most people in this region know that I have always believed in
self-help and self-reliance as pillars of our philosophy in
guiding us as to what to do. My congratulations.
This area is a historic one because not so far
from here is the grave of the Queen Mother and mother of our
founding King, Queen Nandi, King Shaka's mother. We are also not
far from the site of the KwaBulawayo Royal Residence of King
Shaka. This area is one of the mainsprings of our culture.
This area under one of King Mpande's
descendants has always been very close to my heart. When I was a
young leader in the 50's my late uncle, the Prince of eHabeni,
Prince Bhekeshowe was in charge of this area. He was very fond
of me and whenever we had conferences of Amakhosi at Vuma Farm
here in Eshowe, we were also closely together.
The Prince was Inkosi of this area and the
Prince spoiled me as his nephew. He did not care that I was an Inkosi too but to him I was just the son of his sister Princess
Magogo ka Dinuzulu.
So it is very special for me to be here today.
And it is inevitable that I should remember the Prince when I am
here as your guest in his area which the Prince, my cousin, is now
in charge of.
As you know, I have been Inkosi of the
Buthelezi Clan for more than half a century. In that time, I
have seen South Africa move through many seasons of turmoil and
change. I have seen families and communities forced apart by
political and economic realities, and I have seen people drawn
together by the shared vision of political and economic freedom.
I have seen causes, like nature conservation, move from the
periphery of public debate to the centre stage. I have seen
hardship and poverty, as well as development and upliftment. I
have seen too many funerals, and the birth of a new
In all of this, I have not been a mere
spectator. I have borne the responsibility of being a leader in
my nation; being a Minister in the national Cabinet for ten
years and being appointed Acting President of South Africa 22
times. I have never had the luxury of sitting on the sidelines
and passing comment on what should have been done for our
country. I have been in the midst of the decision-making; often
as the sole voice of reason, speaking truth to power. It has not
been an easy role.
But I have done it for the love of my country.
I am a patriot at heart and measure all I do against the
yardstick of how much it will benefit South Africa. I have put
my desires and ambitions after the needs and dreams of my
country, for while my contribution can only be made in a
lifetime, the significance of what I do will last for
generations to come. I think this way not because I am possessed
of any superior abilities or calling, but because I am a South
African who loves South Africa.
I feel that anyone who loves their country
should accept their own role in making it better, safer,
stronger, richer and more peaceful.
We are not merely citizens of this land, but
custodians. The duty of protecting and promoting our national
heritage rests on us all. It is not the job of Government alone,
nor the preserve of leaders. Every one of us is called to use
our unique and God-given talents to continually improve the
I do that through my capacity to mobilize
people, my uncompromising commitment to the truth, my experience
in politics and my integrity.
Others do it through their service to
humanity, as nurses, social workers and caregivers. It can be
done through supporting charitable organizations, creating
successful businesses, starting community projects, empowering
youth, working the land or building houses. There are many ways
we contribute to securing the future of our country. One of the
most important - and often overlooked - is through promoting
arts and culture.
I wish to thank the Phambili Ntuthuko
Community Development Cooperative for gathering us in this venue
to speak about arts and culture, and the power they have to
unite us. I know that, through the Cooperative, this community
has hosted speakers on all manner of topics, including education
and employment. The issue of arts and culture is no less
important, even though we tend to relegate it to an inferior
status when faced with the immediate problems of how to address
poverty, ignorance, disease and criminality.
There are many serious challenges facing our
country, and many of them divide us. The high incidence of crime
divides us by stirring fear and suspicion. An embattled
education system causes social division.
Racial tensions, pervasive corruption,
unemployment, lack of opportunity; all these bring divisions
into our society. But none more so than politics and ideological
We all have our own ideas on how to solve the
myriad problems facing South Africa. The ANC Youth League and
COSATU believe that we need to nationalize our mines, for the
sake of making a major break from the way our economy has been
run for decades. The IFP, on the other hand, believes we need to
grow our industrial bases, promote agriculture and possibly even
reform our monetary system to prevent South Africa from becoming
a welfare state. The IFP doesn't just want something different.
It wants something better.
And we know that this will not just rain on us from
above, but we will have to do these things for ourselves.
Thus the importance of non-governmental organizations
such as Phambili Ntuthuko Development Cooperative.
But ideologies clash and politics brings
division. The role of the arts, I believe, is to engage people
in thinking about issues, rather than blindly following the
dogma of leaders. South Africa is a nation of artists. We have
incredibly talented singers, musicians, dancers, actors, poets
and painters. Our range is also diverse, for we use satire and
cartoons as well as traditional story-telling and beadwork to
express our passion.
In so doing, we reach across the boundaries of
race, language, religion and background, to a shared pool of
values, emotions and dreams. Through art, people who are very
different can begin to understand one another. Through art, we
can find commonality. This is the power of art to unite. I
encourage the community of Eshowe to embrace art as a valuable
means of expression. It can express patriotism, discontent, hope
and anger. It can also express identity.
This is perhaps one of the most valuable
aspects of art; that it is always located within a cultural
context. When anthropologists try to understand the essence of a
people, they consider their art. Classical music, for instance,
expresses an ordered and rigidly structured society; while jazz
and rock speak of a society that is challenging the boundaries
of conformity. In the South African context, our art often
expresses our cultural identity and our heritage. It is a way we
express who we are, where we come from and where we belong.
As a traditional leader and the Prime Minister
of the Zulu Nation, protecting our cultural heritage has always
been of the utmost importance to me. I understand that culture
is a powerful unifying factor among people. People from the same
culture tend to have an innate understanding of each other, for
they share a common foundation of knowledge, beliefs and values.
Even if people leave their own cultural setting and immerse
themselves in a different one - as sometimes happens when people
leave rural areas to live in cities
your cultural framework stays intact and acts
as a filter for your experiences.
People often ask me if I feel torn between my
different roles and responsibilities. They see me in a business
suit standing in the national House of Parliament, but also in
traditional dress at cultural functions where I present His
Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation. I do not feel I can only be
one or the other. I never cast off my heritage to take up my
responsibilities in Parliament or anywhere else. When I have
visited international dignitaries and Heads of State, I have
done so as a South African of Zulu extraction, as a traditional
leader, as a man steeped in the history, traditions and values
of my culture.
Some of you may know that I enjoyed a long
friendship with Inkosi Albert Luthuli, whom I consider one of my
most significant mentors.
When my mother, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu,
asked me to return to Mahlabathini in the fifties to take up my
hereditary position as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan, I was
unsure what to do, for I had intended to complete my legal
articles. I was also politically active and knew that the
Government of the day would look upon me with suspicion if I
took a leadership position; which in fact they did, refusing to
fully recognize me as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan for the first
However, when I sought the advice of Inkosi
Albert Luthuli, whom I often turned to for guidance, he advised
me to return to Mahlabathini. He himself had given up a lucrative teaching
position when the community at Groutville Mission Reserve
elected him as Inkosi of Abasemakholweni in 1936. He understood
the value of our heritage and gave us the example of how a
traditional leader can uplift a community both spiritually and
When Inkosi Luthuli became the first African
to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1960, we discussed the
value of his wearing traditional dress when he accepted the
Prize in Norway. I arranged for him to be clad in the regalia of
a Zulu warrior. In this way, Inkosi Luthuli expressed the pride
of Africa before the world, and struck a blow to the Nationalist
Party which sought to portray Africans as savage and uneducated.
It was a small triumph for our nation,
particularly after the insults that were hurled at me a few
years before when I announced to the Zulu Nation that we were
all to be clad in our indigenous attire during the unveiling of
the King Shaka statue in KwaDukuza by King Cyprian Bhekuzulu
Nyangayezizwe ka Solomon. Unfortunately, many missionaries who
brought us the gospel discouraged African proselytes from using
their indigenous attire or their African names, once they
accepted Christ. It was unashamed westernization of Africa's
indigenes. Everything African was "heathenish".
Today we have a better understanding across
cultures, but there are still issues of contention when it comes
to cultural practices. I think of the slaughter of the bull
during the First Fruits ceremony and how this caused an uproar
amongst animal activists. And it still surprises me when people
misunderstand the significance and meaning behind the Reed Dance
festival, which celebrates the purity of our young maidens. Some
very ignorant comments have been made about our cultural
During last weekend's commemoration of King
Shaka ka Senzangakhona, I made the public statement that our
nation's heritage contains powerful tools and weapons for
building South Africa and protecting its assets. I believe His Majesty our King has made a
remarkable contribution towards re-instilling a sense of pride
within our nation. We should never be shy of our heritage or the
traditional values of our culture. They give us our identity.
I have often said that South Africa's
diversity is its strength. For this reason, I have never
subscribed to the ruling Party's notion that nation building
demands the creation of a homogenized society. If we were all
the same, thought the same and acted the same, something very
valuable would be lost. The different people groups of South
Africa bring something different to the table, and through
interaction that respects and embraces our differences, we can
strengthen our combined contribution to South Africa's success.
The resilience and conservative values that
often characterize Afrikaners is needed in the new South Africa.
The work ethic of the Jewish community is valuable. The business
acumen of the Indian community can teach us a lot. I do not want
to generalize or over-simplify what each of us contributes to
South Africa, or even what makes us unique. But I think this
illustrates how our strengths can be harmonised and our
weaknesses supplemented when we allow diversity to flourish.
Diversity does not preclude unity. But I
believe we must be aware of the inherent potential for division
that our diversity brings, and constantly strive for
reconciliation and unity. I am worried about the degree to which
our society remains fractured, even seventeen years after
democracy. While we have employed so much effort and time into
nation building, divisions are now being opened between South
Africans through the irresponsible comments and reckless
behaviour of some of our leaders.
The Equality Court, for instance, has ruled
that the singing of Dubul' iBhunu constitutes hate speech, but the ANC
has rejected the ruling. Since then, COSATU's President has led
hundreds of shop stewards in singing the song, in flagrant
disregard of the Court's judgment. The ANC Youth League is
appealing the ruling, and Mr Julius Malema has said that the
Judge was letting Apartheid in "through the back door".
I disagree. In a democracy, no one should be
singing about how they want to kill their fellow citizens. This
serves only to alienate a portion of our population and drive a
wedge between us. I believe we must be careful at this juncture
to create a heritage that will unite the next generation. That
can only be done by celebrating our cultures in a way that
promotes mutual respect, greater peace, reconciliation and
I am pleased that the Phambili Ntuthuko
Community Development Cooperative has chosen to stimulate debate
on the issue of arts and culture as a unifying force. As a Zulu,
I am proud of my culture. But my heritage as a South African
encompasses more than my ethnicity. I have served the Zulu
nation for many years, but I will serve South Africa for my
I thank you.