EMANDLENI-MATLENG PASSING OUT PARADE 2000
EMANDLENI-MATLENG CAMP, ULUNDI: DECEMBER 1, 2000
The Master of Ceremonies; the Chairman and members of the Board of Management of Emandleni-Matleng; the Honourable LPHM Mtshali, Premier of KwaZulu Natal; members of the national Parliament; Honourable Ministers and members of the provincial Legislature of KwaZulu Natal; amaKhosi and members of the Royal House present; Mayors and Councillors; the Camp Commander; the Camp Manager; senior officials from the provincial government; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
"Torchbearers of the spirit of self-reliance". These are the words printed on the back of your certificates as you graduate from Emandleni-Matleng in 2000. They should likewise be imprinted on your hearts, for this is the standard which you must meet from this day forward into the individual futures which beckon today. I am honoured to take this podium once again to speak to the graduating class of 2000 as the founder of the Emandleni-Matleng Camp and a leader of my people. In this capacity, I look out at the young faces gathered here today and I see leaders of the future, innovators, builders, teachers and workers. I see the future of our communities raised higher by the presence of these young people and today, I have the privilege of welcoming them to adult life.
The graduating class of 2000 has had the privilege to receive a sound education at Emandleni-Matleng, and you have proven yourselves ready to apply what you have learnt. Throughout this time, you have been under the tutorship of the staff of this Camp, learning life skills and being trained in vocational capacity. I wish to express my gratitude and admiration to the Camp Commander and the Camp Manager, and to all the teaching staff at Emandleni-Matleng, for the high standard of training in work ethic, productivity and self-reliance which continues to characterise this Camp. I also wish to thank members of the Emandleni-Matleng Board for giving up their precious time to ensure that this Camp continues to fulfil its mission. Each young person who graduates today has done so by their own perseverance, dedication and hard work. Yet without those who commit themselves each year to teach and train and guide our youth, an event such as this would not be possible.
As you the graduates of 2000 end your careers at Emandleni-Matleng, I urge you to increase your perseverance, increase your dedication, and increase your hard work. The greatest challenges lie ahead. I know from my own experience that progress through life moves on the impetus of knowledge, exposure and information. The more one learns, the more one is able to dream. The more one knows, the more one is able to achieve. Today you may be closing your books, yet your minds must remain open, for there are countless opportunities to expand what you already know. Your further education is in your own hands. I challenge all of you therefore to continue to learn and continue to grow.
It is a pleasure to speak to young South Africans today. Our country is standing at a crucial juncture of its history, at a time in which we may fulfil the democratic mandate of making the voice of the people finally heard. In just four days, South Africa will be going to the polling stations to cast votes for a new local government system that will determine the shape of our future. I have been travelling across South Africa to speak to communities about the tremendous opportunity we now have to create a system of governance that works in favour of ordinary people and seeks the development of our communities. Yet today, I have taken time out from the election trail and I have come to Emandleni-Matleng to speak to those who can grasp the opportunities of our future in a unique way.
I truly believe that the fate of our communities is held in the hands of our youth. Young people have the spirit and the energy to drive a revolution of goodwill, and to give back to their communities far above that which has been received through a sound education. There is nothing insignificant about the people gathered here today. You are a generation of revolutionaries with the capacity to bring development, upliftment and change. It is
essential that our youth are able to take up their role in promoting a tide of goodwill which can push back encroaching social evils and take on the challenge of adverse circumstances with the hope of achieving success.
I know that the future often seems bleak, for we hear every day about the rising levels of unemployment and our weak economy. Yet I firmly believe that there should be no idle hands in this country, for there is more than enough to do if we can find the will to do it. We must seek that will within the desire to see South Africa prosper, regardless of the personal cost. Only if we all accept giving our individual contributions, will the effort to build South Africa’s future be strong enough and good enough to create substantial change for the better. I urge each of you therefore to seek the area in which you can make your own contribution towards South Africa’s development, stability and growth.
I would also encourage young people to seek employment within the community they have grown up in and been educated in. There is a reason that you have developed your good character and skills in your present community. It is in this place that the sacrifices have been made for you to study and be trained. It is here that you must apply your training to raise the quality of life for all those who have invested in your education. There is a trend in South Africa for educated young people to leave the country and give the benefit of their skills and energy to a foreign people. I urge you not to be over-hasty to leave behind those who have supported you throughout your lives to follow an idealistic dream overseas, or even in a big city.
South Africa’s cities are full of people seeking employment and living in abject conditions for lack of success. The more who flock to the cities, the poorer our rural areas will become and the further our cities will degenerate under a burden they are not equipped to carry. Our rural communities, our poorest communities, are those where young leaders and builders are most desperately needed. It is in your own community that you will find work that needs to be done and it is here that you can find self-respect and the dignity of productive employment. At Emandleni-Matleng, you have gained the potential to become leaders in your own communities. It is here that you are needed and it is here that you must shine. Now, through the experience of adult life, the qualities of leadership can properly emerge.
Power, position, and riches do not make a leader. An effective leader is someone who serves his or her people. Today, I wish to share two passages of scripture with the graduates of 2000 in the hope that these messages may prompt you to fulfil your God-given destinies. The first, 1 Peter Chapter 5 verse 5 says: "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder." I think that this verse has often been used by parents to rebuke their children. But Peter continues to say "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility". By submitting to the good of one another, we are making our community stronger. In our culture, we speak of Ubuntu Botho to express the idea that we are who we are by virtue of those around us. Being part of our community gives each of us meaning and identity.
I believe that the cohesion of our communities will remain the greatest source of strength for the future of South Africa. There is an old expression that says it takes a village to raise a child. This indicates that we all have a role to play in teaching and learning the value of community life. Living and working within our community offers both a benefit and a responsibility to each of us. We are stronger as individuals when we are within the strength of a community. Yet we also have the terrible capacity to weaken our entire community by the weaknesses we may fall prey to within our individual lives. I wish to emphasise today that the life decisions each young person here will take, will affect everyone around you.
Submitting yourself to your elders simply means being a strengthening link in your community. If you are lured by the easy life of crime, or the underworld of drugs, stop thinking of yourself in isolation and know that your actions will have consequences for many lives. Stealing, even petty theft, has an impact on someone else. It is not merely your own character which is forever tarnished, but you will have affected the welfare of another. If you take drugs or abuse alcohol, you are not just putting limits on your own life, but denying others the good they may have received from your living a whole life. There are far greater dangers than these. Drugs and alcohol induce violence and irrational behaviour. Theft can end in murder. Yet any transgression of law makes it easier to commit another, and so the slow decline begins until one becomes useless and harmful to your own community.
It is a terrible waste when young lives are destroyed by wilfully negative behaviour. More than this, it is painful to see a young person who is on their way up and whose life will strengthen their entire community, and then, when you look again, they are gone, in prison, in a sub-culture of thuggery, or dead. Indeed, too many of our young lions are simply dying. Today, World AIDS Day is being celebrated across the globe. Yet there is nothing to celebrate in this pandemic, other than the assurance that we can beat it. Staying clear of HIV/AIDS is also a life choice which amounts to respect for oneself, for one’s partner, and for one’s community. I pray that the graduates of 2000 will carry this message into their communities, that HIV/AIDS can be stopped if we can find the individual will to bring a collective victory.
I trust that the graduating class of 2000 of Emandleni-Matleng will live up to the high standards set by those who have gone before. I have always had reason to be proud of the choices made and the lives lived by this Camp’s graduates. Here, you have learnt self-respect, honesty, morality and commitment to high ideals. The highest of these is patriotism, for to love South Africa requires that we pursue excellence in everything we do for the sake of our country. Fulfilled young people who refuse to compromise on what is right, who know what they want and are prepared to work hard to achieve it, are the solid bricks with which this country must be rebuilt. It is a privilege for me to witness the strong bricks of South Africa being hardened in the furnace of rigorous training, sound education, and close community life.
As young people living in South Africa at this specific time, in this specific millennium, I believe that you have an important task to fulfil. My own generation has fulfilled its task of bringing political liberation to South Africa. This was our destiny and, for it, we worked long and hard. The new generation must bring our struggle further and closer to the fulfilment of genuine liberation for all. It would be a serious mistake for us to muzzle the voice of our youth or contain its energy. Indeed, the second piece of scripture I wish to share with you today is from Paul’s letter to Timothy in Ephesus. He sought to encourage the church in their struggle to achieve maturity with these words: "Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
I believe that as South Africa struggles to mature into its own destiny of economic prosperity and social stability, we must never ignore the purpose, potentials, capacity and power of our youth. I believe that young South Africans have the ability to carry our struggle towards its completion so that the vision of genuine liberation may finally become a reality. Yet, no matter how long it takes for us to get there, no matter how many generations come before this vision is fulfilled, every young person has a role to play and each must carry the baton of freedom through a new stage, and on to the next.
Today, as we congratulate the torch-bearers of the spirit of self-reliance, I wish to see the baton of our country’s struggle passed on to this generation. We all have our roles to play, yet the enthusiasm of youth cannot be replaced by any amount of hard work. I wish this class everything of the best as you embark upon your future, knowing that you have sturdy foundations, and excited at the prospect of what you may yet achieve. Respect your leaders, respect your abilities, and trust yourselves to life. May you always reach your destinations, wherever they may be.
I wish you well, good luck.