OPENING OF THE KWANODWENGU
MULTI-PURPOSE COMMUNITY CENTRE


ADDRESS BY
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE OF TRADITIONAL LEADERS (KWAZULU NATAL) AND
HEAD OF THE BUTHELEZI CLAN

Ulundi: July 15, 2000

Mr Master of Ceremonies; His Worship the Mayor of Ulundi, Cllr SL Ngcobo; the Hon LPHM Mtshali, Premier of KwaZulu Natal; Professor OEHM Nxumalo and other members of the Peace Initiative; the Hon. Prince GL Zulu, the KwaZulu Natal Minister of Welfare and Population Development; His Excellency Prince Vincent Zulu, South Africa's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Jordan, and other members of the Royal House present; Inkosi SB Zulu and other amaKhosi present; Members of Parliament from the National Assembly and KwaZulu Natal Legislature; the Magistrate of Mahlabathini, Mr PH Mnyandu; Dr Johan Olivier, the National Project Manager of the RDP; the Deputy Mayor, Cllr NJ Manana and other Ulundi TLC Councillors; the Rev Canon ZW Mnyandu, Bishop LD Buthelezi and other Ministers of Religion present; officials from the Ulundi TLC and representatives from the KZN Peace Initiative; other distinguished guests, members of the community, ladies and gentlemen.

I wish to thank the members of this community for coming here today to witness the official opening of the KwaNodwengu Multi-Purpose Community Centre in Ulundi. In the coming years, this structure will serve the purpose of bringing together people of diverse needs, with the common link of being members of this community. I am pleased that today we are marking the first of many occasions which will gather Ulundi's people under the roof of this community centre. For this reason, I am honoured to participate in today’s event, as I recognise the significance of any structure which unites people.

I wish to extend a message of gratitude and support for the work of the KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative which has run this project in Ulundi. I believe that this has been a worthy pursuit for the sake of this community and the development of its people. Our province of KwaZulu Natal has indeed been richly blessed by the ongoing peace efforts and the dedicated work for upliftment and development which is being done through the KZN Peace Initiative. My heart is filled with joy to see my own community of Ulundi receiving the benefits of this work, and I can only congratulate every individual who has contributed an effort of commitment and sacrifice to see this community centre erected here.

We have heard a lot about the KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative and it is heartening to see the results in concrete form with the building of this Multi-Purpose Community Centre. We have also heard quite a lot about the Reconstruction and Development Programme of our national Government. I hope that some of our rude detractors in this district will stop from today translating the acronym of RDP as standing for Rumours, Dreams and Promises! There is something that is concrete before us all which is the result of the Peace Initiative, whose sponsors are the KwaZulu Natal provincial Government and the Reconstruction and Development Programme of the national Government.

It is always a pleasure for me to return to Ulundi to see how we are steadily growing and establishing this community as a dynamic hive of development. Here, I am at home and here I feel I am among family and friends who share the deep desire to see Ulundi excel in its progress and the upliftment of its people. Over the decades I have supported and encouraged the growth of this community, and watched it flourish. The creation of Ulundi was an act of hope and faith which signifies our commitment to rebuild our destiny through development. It mean us taking our courage in both hands to construct this city where there was nothing but bush and the ashes of the 1897 war.

There are young people who will not remember that a mere 25 years ago, Ulundi was nothing more than open bush where beasts roamed on soil impregnated with sacred and glorious memories. It is on this soil that we sought to rebuild the pride of a nation and the unity of a people. We built it as a kind of Phoenix, for we were rising from ashes. To us as the Zulu people this was almost sacred ground, for it was a site which was drenched with the blood of our forebears, who died here in defence of their King and our Kingdom.

It is for the same reason that we knew that the capital of KwaZulu could have been in no other place than Ulundi, for here was where it ended and here is where it will all begin again. In a mere 25 years, Ulundi has grown from nothing to what it is now. Ulundi may not stand comparison with cities which have been developed for centuries and have enormous resources, but it is nevertheless a city in growth and on a path of development. As we make further steps forward, such as the important one we are now celebrating, we are building on our initial decision of creating a real renaissance for our nation. From the ashes of Ulundi to the glory of Ulundi. It is not a dream which can be achieved overnight, but can only be conquered by small but constant steps forward, like the one we are celebrating today.

This is a real renaissance in the making and by choosing to establish our capital here, we began a process of renaissance 25 years ago, far before the term renaissance became the common word that it is today. It is essential that we continue to build and move forward, avoiding set-backs. Undoubtedly, set-backs will take place. I have known the sad moments of despair when Ulundi has been touched by violence and the sickness of criminality. At such times, however, I hold fast to my belief that Ulundi can overcome these difficulties and prosper regardless.

It becomes easier to hold such a belief when I come into the community of Ulundi and speak with the men and women who live here. I have heard the determination in their voices and I share their fiery will. The strength of Ulundi lies in the ability of its people to join efforts towards a common objective. With the opening of the KwaNodwengu Multi-Purpose Community Centre, we are celebrating the results of one such collective effort which has built a lasting monument to unity, co-operation and community development. This centre is a result of the KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative Project and the Ulundi TLC who have undertaken to pay for the running and maintenance of this beautiful centre. The Ulundi TLC has been involved at every stage in the development of this centre. They have attended committee meetings and site meetings during the construction period. We thank them for giving this initiative their wholehearted support.

I myself have always welcomed and supported the efforts of the KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative, for I have spent my entire political career working to achieve reconciliation and peace among our people. This province has been particularly tortured by political violence and this soil is drenched in blood. Yet for years we have sought to end the blind cycle of violence and death, pursuing instead the valuable treasures of forgiveness and reconciliation. The KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative has brought us far along the path of reconciliation and in many communities throughout this province, has at last opened the opportunity for development and upliftment.

This centre has been named after the Royal Residence of King Mpande ka Senzangakhona, the KwaNodwengu Multi-Purpose Community Centre. The present Ulundi straddles two capitals, the KwaNodwengu capital, the capital of King Mpande and the Ondini capital, the capital of King Cetshwayo ka Mpande. Of all the Zulu Kings, King Mpande had the most peaceful reign. Apart from the fratricidal war he had with his brother, King Dingane, for 40 years King Mpande ruled the mighty Zulu Nation peacefully from KwaNodwengu Royal Residence where his mortal remains lie. I will leave aside the Ndondakusuka battle between their two sons, Prince Cetshwayo and Prince Mbuyazi because King Mpande was not involved in this tragic war, although legend has it that he incited his two sons to fight it out for his throne. That is when he is supposed to have said: 'UYADELA UMAKHASANA YENA OWAKE WAZIBONA ZINGQIKILANA' (I envy Makhasana who witnessed his two bulls smashing into each other), the story being that Makhasana was Inkosi of the Thonga people whose sons fought it out for the throne during his life time. On the whole, King Mpande was a King who brought peace to his Kingdom for the duration of his reign. It is therefore appropriate that a multi-purpose centre which is a product of the KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative should be called KwaNodwengu, the most peaceful of our Zulu Kings of the 19th century.

May I remind you that the principals of the KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative were:

- The Director-General, Professor OEHM Nxumalo, representing the Premier;

- The National Programme Manager of the RDP, Professor JL Olivier, representing the national Government and the KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative Trustees;

- The Hon Inkosi Nyanga Ngubane, Minister of Safety and Security;

- The Rev BK Dludla and the Rev D Ngubane, the Chairman of the Peace Committee and

- Mr RT Msomi, Chief Executive Officer, representing RTM Human Resources Consultants, C.C.

Community development must take priority in the progress of our country towards a better future. There is no justifiable reason why South Africans should continue to suffer the oppression of a poor quality of life. We can see the practical causes of why so many of our people continue to suffer under the burden of poverty, ignorance for lack of education, exposure and experience, poor service delivery and a lack of infrastructure, inaccessible hospitals, libraries, roads and shopping centres, unemployment, criminality and despair. Yet it is more difficult to understand the reason why so little is being done so slowly in a democratic South Africa to reverse the plight of its people.

The development and upliftment of South Africans is vital to the success of a new South Africa. Liberation is not an abstract concept. It is not a country which is liberated, but its people. People are not liberated merely because, once every five years, they can go and vote for their political representatives. Genuine liberation of people comes when they have the freedom of options in respect of their own lives. Liberation comes when people are free from the chains of poverty, abject social and economic conditions and ignorance for lack of education and exposure. Liberation requires people to have knowledge of the world, information about our society and the personal resources and opportunities necessary to capture the options before them. In the final analysis, liberation is about economic growth.

The process of economic growth may be slow, yet it can be hastened by sound policies and courageous decision-making. Social justice and equality of opportunity have taken five years to be written into our country’s laws, but their implementation should be swift, by bringing the power to effect change closer to the people and further away from a central bureaucracy. I speak of these things because I know that the best efforts of community development will continue to be undermined until the underlying political picture is addressed and it changes.

Community development is a project which must be pursued, fought and won at community level. It is a battle of the people, and it remains the role and responsibility of government to empower its people with the necessary strength and tools to fight it. Central government cannot fight the battle by itself with the elusive dream of making life better on the ground. I have always taught my people that upliftment begins when one ordinary South African gives a hand up to another ordinary South African. The place of self-help and self-reliance within community development is that of a powerful engine running the machine of progress. So this centre is the engine of self-help and self-reliance in this Region.

I encourage businesses and banks alike to recognise the community dimension of development. Investments at community level promise to be those with the highest returns and the lowest risk. We need to find new ways and means to make funding available for community projects. As much as government cannot hijack the project of community development, it can also not step back and expect people on the ground to work alone. Strength will come through co-operation and a unity of purpose, but co-operation does not mean telling people how to solve their problems and equipping them with one blueprint for action. Our communities need to receive the power to formulate their own solutions, taking into account the varying demands of specific community difficulties. I believe that no one knows better how to fulfil the needs of our people, than the people themselves.

It is for this reason that projects such as the building of the KwaNodwengu Community Centre give inspiration to our communities to build their own better tomorrow. This project has worked with the people of Ulundi and could never have taken flight without their help. The dynamic working together of community members and development project leaders has led to the establishment of a tangible benefit for the grassroots people of this district,

South Africa’s best chance of gaining social stability and economic prosperity is through the development of its people from the grassroots up. The health of our communities cannot be allowed to suffer, for they are the sturdy foundations of our prosperous future. Accordingly, we must continue with all our might and all our resources to pursue peace within our communities. We must not overlook the truth that prosperity is built on stability. Community development must become the joint project of every building block of our society, in order that it may be secured in an effort of co-operation.

With these things in mind, it is encouraging to see that the KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative is approaching the pursuit of peace from the angle of uniting people. Our country’s liberation was achieved through negotiation. Surely, we have the capacity to establish peace and development through the same means. I know from years of experience that when people start talking, they stop fighting. By building the KwaNodwengu Community Centre, the KZN Peace Initiative has erected a venue where people can come together to talk about issues that affect them and find their own solutions.

I trust that by coming together in this venue the people of Ulundi will open a wider dialogue, and begin speaking to one another and working together on a larger scale. I believe that much may be achieved, not merely towards peace, but towards establishing a more unified community effort for development. By coming together in this venue, Ulundi’s residents will have the opportunity to conference on how best to fight the crime and violence which inevitably encroaches on community life. The multi-purpose nature of the centre allows for meetings to address social issues as well as political issues. It is here that the people of this community must get talking about everything that affects them.

I hope that the residents of Ulundi will meet here for constructive meetings on issues such as those that have made some bring in a culture of conflict which we do not know in this region. We hope that conflicts will be resolved through discussion, discussion and discussion. We cannot be seen to be a community that is at war with each other. The African way of solving problems is through consensus. This is the peaceful way of Africa, and now that there is talk of our African Renaissance, we hope to revive our African values which include African ways of resolving conflicts peacefully via consensus.

One of the most important problems that must be addressed and resolved through dialogue at community level is the pandemic of HIV/AIDS. Following the 13th International Conference on HIV/AIDS held in this province this week, the doors have been flung wide open for people across South Africa to really begin talking about this disease. We know that HIV/AIDS holds the greatest threat to our future and that it is killing our young people in significantly frightening numbers. We have heard of the dangers which HIV/AIDS poses both for the short-term and the long-term success of community development. If our work force is decimated, who will build our future? It is a long held tradition within our communities that children take care of their parents. This tradition could quickly become endangered. That again is one of the gems of our culture, that when our parents have taken care of us as we grow up, it is our turn to look after them when they get old.

If we fail to fight and win the battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS today, our way of life as we have known it for years and years will change beyond recognition. Our traditional and cultural viewpoint will become obsolete and the chances for the survival of our heritage will dwindle. I say these things because by now we must all know the facts. AIDS kills. HIV is transmittable. We must take precautions. Yet, until we internalise these facts and begin to act upon them on every occasion, the battle will not be won. We must bring our knowledge of the facts closer to home. This is how HIV/AIDS will affect us if we allow it to spread: it will destroy everything we cherish.

These are things we need to talk about. As the people of Ulundi come together in the KwaNodwengu Community Centre, I urge each one to speak openly and honestly, encouraging each other to act responsibly. We must guard against attacking one another for speaking up. It is not a show of weakness to fear AIDS. But it is an act of unmatched cowardice to silence the voices of those who wish to bring the truth into our community. Truth is the most powerful weapon we have. Let us speak the truth in this centre, as I have already said.

There are many issues which can be solved through enhanced dialogue at community level. One is the issue of crime, which is affecting the whole of South Africa. For many years we felt that the scourge of crime would leave Ulundi untouched, but we have seen that this is not the case. Even though our levels of crime remain much lower than the rest of the country, criminal activities in Ulundi are on the rise. Criminal activities are the tip on an iceberg made of the disruption of the social fibre of our communities. We need to rebuild the social and moral fibre of our community by creating a new dimension of values, hopes and personal and collective commitment.

New generations are coming to the forefront of social protagonism and often do not identify with the inherited values of our forefathers. When they break away from their roots they find no guidance for their lives and choose the slippery downward path of rebellion, lack of discipline and crime. It is true that it takes a community to educate a child. The youth is our collegial responsibility and we must fulfil this responsibility by accepting the change which has taken place in our society, by developing new structures, new values and new paradigms to register the aspirations of new generations, while constructing an even stronger fibre for the cohesiveness of our community.

We need to engage in a difficult balancing act which recognises the value of the new, and directs change and progress towards constructive purposes. New generations bring new strength and energy which, if repressed and unable to find a constructive outlet, turns to frustration and rebellion. Especially because of the lack of employment opportunities, it is important to create community opportunities for young people to be useful to themselves and others, and to conduct an honest day of beneficial and psychologically rewarding activity, even where no job opportunities are available.

We need to put our best resources to work to build Ulundi and build our communities. Idle hands are always more susceptible to the false lure of crime. We must create an army of young people who are committed to the growth and progress of our community, and enrol them into voluntary programmes. It is this army of revolutionaries of goodwill which will create a new culture, a new feel and a new image of what being young, dynamic and active should be all about. In this fashion, we shall succeed in isolating crime and the few elements in our communities which cannot be regained for constructive developmental work. Crime must be fought and defeated where it dwells, which is first and foremost in the hearts and minds of people. There is no such thing as abstract crime, but only the criminal conduct of actual members of our communities whose ways and means must be reformed before it is too late.

We must also deal with the raging issue of unemployment. We must strengthen the bonds of social solidarity within our community. We must not allow unemployment to stop beneficial and profitable social and economic activities. Economic growth begins at community level and people should not wait for a formal job opportunity to do work which can improve on their own lives or on the lives of their neighbours. People must come together and discuss these issues and see where in our community there is work waiting to be attended to and where there are people available to do it. This is the venue where these discussions should take place.

Many of us who attended our Annual Conference recently know the things that I emphasised. Since 1994 we have lost half a million (500,000) jobs. At present there are no prospects that we are going to have enough investments to create enough jobs for so many of our people who are unemployed today. I feel very shy about many unemployed young people who have heeded my call over the years. They heeded my call when I said "Education for Liberation" instead of listening to those who shouted "Liberation now, Education Later." With liberation achieved, they still find themselves without jobs, even though they have their Standard 10, some professional teaching certificates and even degrees.

Throughout my political career, I have tried to teach my followers to believe in the twin pillars of our philosophy of self-help and self-reliance. This centre is the place where we have to share ideas on how to acquire the skills that can help employment, instead of hoping against hope for jobs that will not be there in the foreseeable future. There is no reason why we should not be able to share ideas on things that we can actually do in our own homes in order to earn a living. This is the place where we must gather to get ideas on how to acquire skills through self-help and self-reliance.

We must ensure that in this venue the most important of all trading activities takes place, which is the trading of ideas, perspectives and viewpoints. This is what really builds new opportunities. This must become the temple to initiatives and new ideas which emerge from open discussions. There is no problem that cannot be solved by people who come together with the firm resolve to solve it, knowing that they can solve it without outside help. Used for these purposes, I firmly believe that Ulundi will benefit from the establishment of the KwaNodwengu Community Centre.

With these words of hope, I wish to thank the Project Committee of the KwaZulu Natal Peace Initiative responsible for the successful establishment of the KwaNodwengu Community Centre. We also thank Mr C Nel, the Town Engineer, for his role in this project. May your efforts increase in their range and productivity so that we may continue the fight for community development, working side by side and hand in hand. It is an honour for me address the community of Ulundi on the official opening of this centre. May my words of encouragement and hope, spoken on this occasion, continue to echo through the rooms of this centre and mingle with the voices of goodwill, courage and fierce determination of the people of Ulundi in the years to come.

Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to declare the KwaNodwengu Multi-Purpose Community Centre officially open.

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