DURBAN : MARCH 31, 2001

In true African tradition we are today honouring the lives of those men and women who have made an outstanding contribution to the unfolding of the history of South Africa and the struggle for liberation in KwaZulu Natal in particular. This is an inspired initiative which I am eager to support and applaud. In writing these names up in the Star Walk of Durban, we are fixing a new firmament towards which our children and our children’s children may look for guidance. These stars of our collective memory are a constant reference point, reminding us equally of where we have been and the destiny which lies before us. They have taught us so much and, today, we honour their memory.

Every commemorative plaque unveiled before us on this occasion suffuses our hearts with a sense of patriotism. These courageous Africans of pioneering spirit forged a path before us which we may now walk, honouring their memory by following their footsteps. I, for one, am proud to walk in this historical path, remembering the strength of character and bold contribution each of these people gave. Since the days of my youth, I have been inspired by their lives and their memory to take my country even further along the road towards liberation, knowing by their example that individuals can change the shape of history and just one life can swing the course of our destiny closer to freedom.

Amongst the many South Africans we celebrate today, I stand proud in the knowledge that my own mother, Princess Constance Magogo ka Dinuzulu, is rightly honoured. My heart swells with emotion to see her name established among those whose memory fills this avenue, so aptly named the Star Walk. Everything I know I learnt at my mother’s knee, from serving my fellow man to leading my people, from loving my country to struggling for its freedom, from being a man to being a son of Africa. I speak her name with pride, knowing that she is indeed a star among my people and a liberation warrior in her own right. With each passing day, I still hear the clear and beautiful voice of my mother calling her country to freedom.

Her star is fixed among a galaxy of great men and women who laid their lives on the altar of liberty. They have stood in the gap and brought us out of a long, cruel night in South Africa. The dawn which we as South Africans in the third millennium are witnessing, is come because of the light they lived to shine. Let us be inspired by their greatness to walk the path they opened and never think lightly of the sacrifice they made.

It is indeed because their sacrifice was so overwhelming that we must match it in our commitment to continue their work. For every name written up today, a life has been given for our freedom. Surely it is an honourable thing to die for one’s country, yet it is by far superior in courage and strength to live for the same cause.

For me this is a very emotional occasion. I congratulate Minister Sbu Ndebele and those who have imported this idea of a Star Walk from our brothers in the United States. All the people whom we are honouring here I respect and revere, just as I do my own mother, as heroes of our Nation.

When I was taken to Adams College as a youth of 14 years, my uncle Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu, who was the Regent of the Zulu Nation during the interregnum, took me and my two cousins, Prince Thandayiphi and Prince Penuel, to see Dr John Langalibalele Dube at his home in Ohlange. At that time he was in a wheel-chair after suffering a stroke and we were taken to see Dr Dube because he was the President-General of the African National Congress, as well as being a prominent leader in this Province. Prince Mshiyeni reported with pride that he was taking us to Adams to continue with our high school education. I had of course seen Dr Dube many times at the Royal Palace interacting with other leaders who included my late father, Mathole Buthelezi, who was then Undunankulu of the Zulu Nation.

Inkosi Albert Mvumbi Lutuli is one of my mentors and I could talk at length about him. It was a privilege for me to be asked by the Lutuli family and the African National Congress Mission-in-exile to deliver the funeral oration, at his grave in Groutville, on behalf of the South African Nation.

The recognition of such a person as Bishop Alphaeus Hamilton Zulu is much applauded. He was an Anglican priest here in Durban for many years and was one of the founders of IDAMASA. He was a patriot in his own right. He presided at the meeting we had in London in 1979 between the late President of the African National Congress, Dr Oliver Tambo, and a delegation of the ANC which included President Mbeki and a delegation of the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement - Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe - led by myself. I could give a whole address on the work of Bishop Alphaeus Zulu in South Africa. He was, among other things, the first priest to be ordained a Bishop in the Anglican Church in 1960. He was later to be the first black Diocesan Bishop in South Africa. I could go on paying individual tributes to all these heroes, but this is not my task.

These men and women whom we honour today have moved beyond the concept of patriotic duty and into a realm in which the passionate fire of patriotic love gives rise to greatness. Let us live by the example their lives bestow and lead our children into a destiny determined centuries before their birth.


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