Former President of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe, says he does not see the point in the removal of colonial statues in the country. In his address at the Pan Africa Youth Dialogue Africa Day Lecture, an audience member asked him how he felt about the recent debates surrounding colonial statues. “You might remove the statue today because, I don’t know, you feel it is an irritant to you at the time, but it does not change the past. Future generations may feel differently, and want to erect those statues again,” he said. Motlanthe believes that we should be more focused on building the spirit of unity among Africans, rather than focussing on the past which tore us apart.
The former president gave a lecture entitled “The 21st century Pan African mind” in honour of Africa Day, on 25 May. Other guest speakers included Xolani Nyali, the executive director of PAYD, as well as a one its founding members, and Siphokaki Magadla from the Rhodes University Politics Department.
Motlanthe also believes that it is time for today’s youth to step up and become leaders with a cause. He assigned this generation’s leaders with two tasks; to unite all South Africans as people and to consolidate democracy in our country. “In whatever you do, ask yourself this question, would this enhance the unity or the division? We need to deal with past injustices in a manner that enables the wounds in our souls to heal.”
According to Motlanthe, in order to move forward as a nation, we need to acknowledge the historical damage of colonialism and racism. He believes that the struggle of today is to build a new humanity. “The point is not to describe the problem but to solve it;that is the purpose of our being. As today’s generation, the tomorrow belongs to you and it is time to find your historical mission.”
You can watch the entire speech here: http://livestream.com/accounts/5108098/PAYDafricanDay