Address by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, the honourable Ms Sue van der Merwe on occasion of Kenya's National Day, Pretoria Country Club, 12 December 2004

Your Excellency, The High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya,
Distinguished Diplomats,
Honourable Members of the Business Community,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It gives me great pleasure today to make these remarks on the occasion of Kenya's National Day. On behalf of the South African Government, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the South Africa people, we would like to give our best wishes to the Kenyan leadership and people on this important day.

We would like to use this opportunity to extend our warm greetings and best wishes to President Mwai Kibaki, Vice-President Moody Awori and our colleague, Foreign Minister Ali Chirau Makwere.

If I can be allowed to practise the Swahili language, that is widely-spoken on this continent, may I simply ask: " Habari Gani?"(How are you? in Kiswahili-). "Mzuri Sana Sasa, Asante Sana" (Very Fine Thank You Ladies and Gentlemen.).

Today is both a day of celebration and joy for all of us because of the ties that bind us and our common experience. Our history tells us that marked an important moment not only for Kenya, but for Africa and the world. It is also a day of glory and remembrance to the many heroes who sacrificed their youthful and vibrant lives to set all of Africa free and who are forerunners of our present day efforts to rebuild the African continent and to realise the dreams of an African renaissance.

On that historic day in 1963, the gates of hope and longing for freedom and liberation were opened for us to continue inspired by victory on the path to our freedom. The winds of freedom would begin to blow to Southern and South Africa and the message of an Africa revolution carried on this wind.

Many of the Kenyan heroes at the time had also been members of our pioneering political liberation organisation, the African National Congress, while they were students and/or workers in South Africa.

Today, Your Excellencies and Ladies and Gentlemen, we are able to enjoy our ten years of democracy in a non-racial, non-sexist South Africa thanks to the huge sacrifice that these gallant heroes made for all of us. Let us salute in memory the great late President Jomo (Mzee) Kenyatta, one of the fathers of African freedom. We greatly admire and are encouraged by the sacrifices of the Kenyan people and their efforts as well as those of their comrades. That is why today in South Africa many new leaders have emerged, inspired by the actions of Kenyan heroes.

The example of their sacrifice inspired many of our heroes to also put their lives in jeopardy in pursuit of freedom and liberty. Were it not for their sacrifice, would our people have been inspired enough to continue to resist and to rebel? Certainly the torches of freedom had been lit. The liberation of Africa had been set in motion and South Africans were encouraged to march on t freedom.

Your Excellencies,

Today we are happy to sit together side by side as brothers, sisters and equals on the seats of international, continental and regional organisations supporting each other and sharing our rich and common experience.

Your country - government and people - in a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood, has always supported South Africa's and our Government position on many an international matter or dispute.

That is why today we exchange information, advice and experiences in the United Nations (UN), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Commonwealth, the African Union (AU) and NEPAD and many other international fora.

Together as Africans bound by a common cause, let us continue current efforts to find a lasting and peaceful solution to the conflicts in the Great Lakes region, the Ivory Coast, Darfur in the Sudan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as that in Iraq is clear testimony to this position. It is our wish that all our African brothers and sisters enjoy a life of stability, peace, security and sustainable development. This will in turn allow us to take up our proud position in the world and earn us the respect and honour that all our people deserve.

Your Excellencies,

In conclusion, we would once again like to express our great appreciation to the Kenyan people and Government for their loyal and faithful support. We hope that our relationship will continue to grow in strength and in good spirit.

We wish you well on this National Day.

I thank you for your attention.


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