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I. Mahlangu: Address to Africa Summit

Address to Africa Summit 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, Nov. 21–25, 2018


Thank you. I am the chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, which includes all traditional leaders in the country. First let me greet excellencies, royal highnesses, traditional leaders who are in here, Dr. Moon, and the Royal House of Mandela led by Zwelivelile Mandela.

As the National House of Traditional Leaders, we are thrilled and very excited that we have been invited by UPF to participate in this program where people from around the world, people from Africa, and traditional leaders are gathered here to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela. This giant carried multitudes on his shoulders. He stood his ground tall in spite of the broken environment that he was facing. He was a giant who most people could not understand because he was humble, listened to viewpoints of people from all walks of life, and never competed for any position. He established the National House of Traditional Leaders in 1996, so that South African traditional leaders could all unite and speak with one voice. It was no surprise that Nelson Mandela was elected the first president of the Democratic Republic of South Africa.

We are gathered here today to reflect on the words of Madiba, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are more hills to climb.” He was not just talking about hills but about a necessary change of approach to matters that confront us on a daily basis. The report that was presented yesterday about young people shows that we have hills to climb and conquer.  We cannot be tired or throw our hands in the air in defeat.

South Africa was oppressed for a very long time. Madiba led the struggle from prison—not alone but with his comrades in arms and all of us who were behind him. We are today facing another kind of struggle. We have achieved political freedom, but we are still fighting for economic freedom. We cannot claim to be victorious until our communities are living lives that have economic freedom and development. We cannot claim to be free until our young people have hope for the future. We cannot claim to be free when we have men molesting and abusing women and children, when people are still abusing women and children in the name of culture. We cannot claim freedom when we still face human trafficking.  

Madiba condemned poverty, saying that it is not unlike slavery. It is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings. It is upon us as leaders to show a way forward in such a difficult situation. We cannot fail to conquer yet another hill that is facing us.

I am standing here today to challenge our African colleagues that continental progress is possible if we all join hands and commit to establishing it. We have a bigger role to play the continental affairs rather than being on the periphery. Traditional leaders are known to be good leaders and stewards of the nation.

We want to ensure that no child or family in Africa lives in fear of being killed or raped. We cannot rest until all the wars in the continent are resolved and we start rebuilding. We cannot allow languages and cultural differences to be a barrier to building a united Africa.

We have to be united under the principles of peace, social cohesion and nation building. We must embrace the theme of this summit as our vision to establish a continental body that is recognized by our respective governments, regional bodies, and the Pan-African Parliament. We shall run and not grow weary until we reach this goal.  We shall soar like an eagle to bring forth peace and sustainable development in our continent. 

As traditional leaders of South Africa, we have engaged in a program that we call an agrarian revolution. We are in a revolution to turn around poverty, which manifests as of food shortages in South Africa and other parts of Africa. We are in a revolution to build capacity for our young people in all sectors of our communities, to use land for economic development. We have noted that South Africa has a vast supply of land that is not being adequately utilized, and as traditional leaders in our communities, we have pledged to devote over 1.4 million hectares of land for agricultural purposes.

We cannot afford to see our young people standing on street corners without jobs. Instead they must start working the land so that they produce food and wealth for economic development. We are negotiating with a number of private companies and organizations to make funding available for this purpose. This is one way that traditional leaders have decided that we need to stand up against poverty. We need to think differently. We need to be more business-like in the way we do things.

We believe that in partnership with our youth sector, we will be able to influence government and the private sector to change their thinking about development and help young people to work on the land to help social and economic development. If we can make it in South Africa, our neighbors can make it as well. We cannot rely on anyone to rescue us, to secure food for our people. God has given us good land to be the breadbasket of the world.

The question that must be in our minds is how our forebears managed to provide for their communities. Communities under traditional leaders never experienced hunger because there was plenty to eat and they had full control of their land. In our culture, when a neighbor did not have food, you providde for him or her by either plowing a field for him or her or giving them a cow to milk for his children.

We have to get beyond separate remedies, living in silos. This was confirmed by Madiba when he said, "There can be no greater gift than that of giving one's time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in return." We are committed at the National House of Traditional Leaders to provide leadership in agriculture and other sectors.

Agriculture can be a catalyst to help develop the African economy. As you recall, Mandela said that we need to unite and change the face of our local communities. So I think we should use this platform to come up with ways to make sure our people do not continue living in hunger. We are living under the guidance of Almighty God, who says in the Book of Proverbs 16:3, "Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established."  God established our thoughts and has blessed us with prosperity.

As the National House of Traditional Leaders, we must provide a gift to our young people so that they recognize themselves as playing a critical role in building the economy in South Africa and the continent. We ask you to join hands with us as we revolutionize agriculture. We have just one culture in traditional leadership, and that is agriculture.

I would not be representing traditional leadership correctly and adequately if I do not condemn those who oppress our women. We cannot continue to discriminate on the basis of gender against our women and girl children. We have been placed in this position so that we emancipate those that are still living in the darkness. We have received the light and the light is shining upon us.

It will not be sufficient to talk development if we do not want to change ourselves. John C. Maxwell said, "Be all you can be. The great goal of becoming what one is capable of becoming can be achieved only by those who are willing to pay the price, and the price always involves sacrifice, discomfort, unpleasantness and even pain."

We have to influence change in our communities.  Those who are denying women their efforts land leadership positions must reconsider and change that rule.

In conclusion, we must unite and have a common vision that is shared by all. Let us always put our people first. Economic development for our rural communities is not a favor to them but a responsibility on which we must deliver. We must learn to hold our government and ourselves accountable for services delivered. Our people are looking up to us to give them peace and prosperity. Let us unite and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Nelson Mandela by promising today that we will work to realize peace and human development in Africa.

Africa is rich in many fields. Our task is to stretch our arms and find our niche for the sake of our communities. The National House of Traditional Leaders has always been at the forefront of any economic development agenda. We cannot have good dreams if we do not develop our young people, protect our women, and educate our children. 

We are asking you today to join Africa in the quest for peace and human development. God bless you. Thank you.



To go to the 2018 Africa Summit Schedule page, click here.