President Goodluck Jonathan has challenged Africa leaders to pay greater attention to the economic emancipation of its people as a way of consolidating the achievements recorded in the liberation of the continent from said colonialism, racism and apartheid.
Addressing the special Session of the South African Parliament in Cape Town as part of activities lined up for his state visit, President Jonathan said in addition to building strong economies, African leaders must also work towards strengthening democratic governance in their countries
President Jonathan’s address to the South African Parliament
1. May I use this opportunity to say how delighted my delegation and I have been since our arrival in South Africa. I am also deeply appreciative of the warm hospitality and reception accorded to us. This is also evident in the manner the leadership of the Parliament has received us this after noon. All of these are consistent with the well-known South African hospitality. I wish, particularly, to thank my brother, President Jacob Zuma, for extending the invitation to me to pay this State Visit to South Africa.
2. Mr Speaker, Distinguished Parliamentarians, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is indeed a great honour to be given the opportunity to address the Joint Sitting of members of this august body, the South African Parliament. As the arm of government charged with the important responsibility of making laws for the good order and governance of South Africa, the role of Parliament is crucial to the progress of this country and the welfare of its people.
3. Harmonious relationship between all the three arms of government, especially between the legislative and executive arms, is imperative for the objectives of good governance, and national progress. We in Nigeria are delighted to know that both the Executive and the Legislature in South Africa have forged a strong bond for the people’s benefit. It is an example that is worthy of emulation by some other countries where the doctrine of the separation of powers and cordial intra-governmental relations still remain a knotty challenge.
4. At this forum, it is only proper that we acknowledge and pay tribute to those who made the freedom and democracy which our two countries enjoy today possible. Generations of young Africans grew up in the last 50 years to witness and study the singular and collective heroism, as well as the inspirational examples of many icons of the South African anti-apartheid struggle, Chief Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, the Madiba, President Nelson Mandela, Oliver Thambo, Govan Mbeki, Steve Biko, Chris Hani, and other men and women of valour and integrity who were imbued with the spirit of sacrifice, patriotism, and devotion to the common good.
5. This new “Rainbow Nation” where freedom and equality are now established as inviolable principles is the product of their vision and dedication.
6. Similarly in Nigeria, our people will forever remember the efforts and contributions of Dr. Herbert Macaulay, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Ernest Ikoli, Margaret Ekpo and many others who fought hard to secure Nigeria’s independence from divisive, colonial rule. These men, and women, in our two countries, paved the way for the freedom we enjoy today. The people’s liberty was well fought for and earned.
7. The huge debt that we owe the heroes of our history is not to be complacent with the freedom of our people and the democracy that we have established. We can stand on the shoulders of the icons of our history: in so doing we will be able to look much farther into the future, but this also comes with a responsibility and a duty: the duty to ensure that as leaders in Africa today, we also leave worthy legacies for successor generations.
8. Mr Speaker, Distinguished Parliamentarians, Ladies and Gentlemen, twenty-two years ago, Africa’s living legend, President Nelson Mandela, was released from prison. Since then, your country has travelled, more steadily on a path of progress and grown in stature. We do not only have a new South Africa under black majority rule, its institutions and processes have become inclusive. A new generation has emerged that is fired by a sense of unalloyed patriotism and common destiny.
9. Here we are, today, with the Head of State of another African country addressing the Joint Sitting of the Parliament of a free, independent and democratic South Africa that has assumed its rightful place in the comity of nations.
10. We have arrived at such a moment as this, because the people of South Africa never gave up their belief in the rightness of their cause in their quest for freedom and equality. The peoples of Africa and the rest of the civilised world did not also relent in the support they gave to the people of South Africa to remove the shackles of racism, apartheid and colonialism which combined to hold them down for so long.
11. The role played by individual nations, including my country Nigeria, in the struggle for the emergence of a new South Africa that is non-racial, independent and democratic is already part of the special linkages between our two countries. In those dark seasons, Nigerians stood by their South African brothers and sisters, because we shared your pain and concerns. Today, we also stand shoulder to shoulder with you as brothers and sisters and as partners, working together in pursuit of mutually beneficial interests.
12. Suffice it to say that throughout the long-drawn, anti-apartheid struggle, although we were not geographically contiguous, Nigeria was, nevertheless, considered a Frontline State, by the sheer fact of our commitment to the just struggle for freedom in Southern Africa.
13. It is important to recall, that this was a cause every Nigerian was committed to, not just those in government, but the people themselves. It was for this reason the Southern African Relief Fund (SARF) was created.
14. This was funded with deductions from the salary of every Nigerian worker, irrespective of rank, both in the public and private sectors as well as donations from ordinary Nigerians in all walks of life, including students. This fund was placed at the disposal of the liberation struggle.
15. Nigeria provided scholarships for students from South Africa. Our musicians waxed albums in support of the anti-apartheid struggle, a memorable one in this respect being Sonny Okosun’s timeless piece, “Fire in Soweto”. Our poets wrote protest literature denouncing man’s inhumanity to man; whenever South Africans protested against injustice, Nigerian students also took to the streets in support and solidarity.