160202 PHOSAFirstly, let me start by thanking former President de Klerk for the role he played in bringing about real change to our country.  When all the noise has died down future historians will judge positively the role you played in the liberations of all South Africans, black and white.  Real leaders make difficult and selfless choices and become statesman, and you did just that.  You and President Mandela crossed the dangerous Rubicon when you were called upon to do so. The other day I read an article that was published in The Star, Tuesday 10 May 1994, and I quote:

“On the eve of changing the reins of power, South Africa’s outgoing and incoming presidents last night called for reconciliation and expressed confidence in the country’s future.

Outgoing president FW de Klerk told a civic banquet in Pretoria that he would play his part so that reconciliation became reality.

President Nelson Mandela said it was necessary to join hands to promote the spirit of reconciliation to build the country.”

Today, almost twenty-two years on from this event, we celebrate the freedom of all South Africans. Freedom for which we can all be thankful to not only Mandela and De Klerk, but to many ordinary South Africans that made the ultimate sacrifice for us to be free today. We honour their legacy and their commitment to celebrate a free South Africa.

On 2 February 1990, all South Africans collectively held their breath as they waited for the then President of South Africa, FW de Klerk to speak. What he said that day changed history and cemented his efforts to bring lasting peace to our country and in his efforts since then, to highlight the impact of racial oppression to the world.

However, many South Africans tell me today that irrespective of arguably the most balanced and liberal Constitution that any nation can hope for, they don’t feel free or safe in their homes, in the streets, on the busses and trains, schools, universities and at the tourist attractions in our beautiful country.

We need to change this!

However, in any endeavour you have to understand the past to understand and shape the future, as nothing ever happens out of context.