It gives me great pleasure to convey my message of participation and support for the celebrations which are held in the Republic of India to commemorate South Africa's day of liberation on April 27, 1994. Our liberation was the culmination of a long process in which the entire continent moved from colonial rule to self-determination. As such, it is rightly the celebration of a process marked with the countless efforts and untold suffering of many unsung heroes and heroines who, throughout our continent, fought for the emergence of a new world player. It is significant that the liberation of South Africa has ushered in the dream of the African Renaissance as our agenda for this new century. In doing so, we have given freedom itself an agenda, for freedom must be an opportunity to move forward mankind's everlasting quest for progress and upliftment.

The histories of South Africa and India have long been intricately intertwined. The resounding call for liberation has opened new paths of development in both our countries, and has carried us along a similar route marked by the milestones of oppression, social division, struggle, unity of purpose and ultimate political freedom. The path of liberation in India was walked many years before our own, and remained as an example for South Africans of what could be achieved if we could find the courage to persevere and to overcome all opposition.

Indeed, one of the greatest Indian leaders first sharpened his thoughts upon South African soil and in the South African context, discovering the call to lead all oppressed people into the light of liberty. The Mahatma Gandhi left a lasting legacy for our people to follow. It was by his inspiration that the original process of political mobilisation began in our country.

Mohandis Gandhi planted the seeds of South Africa's liberation movement before returning to India to fight the same fight for his own people. Through the work he achieved in South Africa, he impressed upon our liberation movement the indelible mark of non-violence and passive resistance. Throughout our struggle, I abided by the principles of satyagraha, for I recognised in this method the possibility that we could achieve and maintain liberation without the bloodshed which threatened. In the end, it was passive resistance and negotiation which led to the successful liberation of South Africa. Yet, not every one of us had maintained the original path.

I realised from the outset that we had to win freedom in South Africa together as fellow South Africans, regardless of race. I stood by this truth even when the promoters of the armed struggle began advocating a military solution. I refused to take up arms, and for this I was vilified and labelled a sell-out. The armed struggle took its toll in blood and the black-on-black conflict which ensued destroyed the lives of thousands of our people. I had foreseen this chaos and destruction and I knew the consequences which would surely follow our inevitable success. For this reason, I stood firm in my decision even when it cost me politically.

As I had predicted, the armed struggle failed to deliver what its promoters sought to accomplish and in the end, reason triumphed. At last, the path of negotiation was chosen over that of a military solution. Finally we recognised that we, the blacks, the Indians, the whites and the Coloureds, are all equally South Africans and no one is an enemy to be defeated. Unity of purpose brought us to the negotiating table and eventually led to an all-inclusive settlement which laid the firm foundation of a new country to be built. To us, the anniversary of our day of liberation underscores this legacy of unity which must continue to guide our efforts. We are now faced with the challenges of reconstruction and development. To achieve this new goal we require a national alliance for development established on the same unity of purpose which first led to political liberation.

I firmly believe that all South Africans of goodwill, irrespective of race, language, culture, tradition, gender or religion, can come together around a pool of shared values. We all wish to see the same future of economic prosperity, social stability and social justice in South Africa. We all want to build this new country in which the efforts of all ensure the benefit of all. Unity remains our weapon to combat the culture of destruction and indiscipline which necessarily characterise our past. We must come together as South Africans to build a country which offers to all what it previously reserved for only a few. In this task, we all have a vital role to play.

South Africa hosts the largest Indian community outside the Republic of India. Our country's ties with the Republic of India are natural and strong. We face one another from both sides of the Indian Ocean. It is thus not difficult for us to recognise that the alliance for development must become an international call with which, through peace and prosperity, we can free our respective peoples from the yoke of poverty, social injustice, ignorance for lack of education and exposure, lack of opportunity, unemployment, poor living conditions and inadequate service delivery. Criminality seems to be the natural result of a situation in which our people just cannot get ahead. Yet it is merely because we fail to work together, that we often pull one another down. We need to free our people from this perpetuated cycle.

The Republic of India recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence. In 2000, South Africa celebrates our 6th. Yet in both of our countries, the most important agenda item of liberation remains unfinished, namely that of progress, development and human upliftment. India has taken courageous decisions to promote this agenda, such as the investment made in the technological training of large segments of its population. South Africa has come to the same conclusion that the agenda for liberation requires that we free people in their families, communities and work-places. For this reason, we have engaged in a massive training programme by which every employer will have the responsibility to train South Africans.

We have embarked upon this course of action in the full knowledge that it is only training and education which can give our people the capacity to leap-frog over intermediary stages of development and enter the technological age as fully capable citizens. We have ensured resources for training, expanding the opportunity to give to all our people the chance of securing the dignity of being skilled and capable. We cannot afford for South Africa to miss the opportunity of upliftment and growth simply for lack of knowing how to grasp it. Technological advancement is steadily marching forward. If we cannot keep pace, our best efforts will be lost. It is encouraging to see the progress already made in India to train its citizens.

Together with progress, to me the most important item of the unfinished agenda of liberation remains the pursuit of peace. Peace must be won at all levels of society, ranging from our neighbourhoods to our country's international relations. We must realise and accept that there is just no alternative to peace, and peace must be maintained at all costs. To me the culture of peace, progress, hard work and social discipline are closely inter-related.

So too are the destinies of India and South Africa closely inter-related. I find it significant and well worthy of praise that in India, South Africa's day of liberation is celebrated. We also celebrate India's day of independence in South Africa. It has always been an honour for me to participate in these celebrations, for I recognise the importance of the ties we share and the enormity of the role which India has to play in the future of our country's growth and upliftment. Throughout the last 200 years, the Indian community has made a major contribution to the growth of South Africa through its ingenuity. We continue to need the ingenuity and enthusiasm of this contribution.

Throughout my life, I have maintained close ties with the Indian community, both in South Africa and India. I have been a long-standing friend of the Indian Republic and appreciate the relationship of mutual respect and trust which has developed over the years between myself and many Indian leaders. Throughout my career in politics, which has continued uninterrupted for over forty years, I have taken care to maintain an open dialogue with the Indian community. This community is as much a part of the rich tapestry which is South Africa, as is the Zulu, the Greek, the Xhosa or the Chinese community. Our diversity in fact ensures our future, for we have a variety of strengths to draw from as we face our shared challenges.

It is for this reason that I feel honoured to have the opportunity to participate in the liberation celebrations through this message of support. I know that as we continue, year after year, to celebrate freedom and unity, we are teaching our children the lessons of peace and social justice. We must carry over into the next generation the historical truth that no one people can be raised up by the oppression of another. Our liberation has been won at great cost, yet its value will forever exceed the price we paid.


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