"TODAY IT FEELS GOOD TO BE AN AFRICAN"
I Am an African
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Go here for more about
Mbeki's I Am an African speech.
Nelson Mandela, former President, and President Thabo Mbeki
at Mandela's 90th birthday celebrations in Qunu, July 2008.
- Copyright Elmond Jiyane, GCIS.
It follows the full text transcript of
Thabo Mbeki's I Am an African speech, delivered at
Cape Town, South Africa - May 8, 1996.
Esteemed President of the democratic Republic,
Honorable Members of the Constitutional
Our distinguished domestic and foreign guests,
On an occasion
such as this, we should, perhaps, start from the
So, let me begin.
I am an African.
I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the
mountains and the glades, the rivers, the
deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and
the ever-changing seasons that define the face
of our native land.
My body has frozen in our frosts and in our
latter day snows. It has thawed in the warmth of
our sunshine and melted in the heat of the
midday sun. The crack and the rumble of the
summer thunders, lashed by startling lightening,
have been a cause both of trembling and of hope.
The fragrances of nature have been as pleasant
to us as the sight of the wild blooms of the
citizens of the veld.
The dramatic shapes of the Drakensberg, the
soil-colored waters of the Lekoa, iGqili
noThukela, and the sands of the Kgalagadi, have
all been panels of the set on the natural stage
on which we act out the foolish deeds of the
theatre of our day.
At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I
should concede equal citizenship of our country
to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and
the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and
the pestilential mosquito.
A human presence among all these, a feature on
the face of our native land thus defined, I know
that none dare challenge me when I say - I am an
I owe my being to the Khoi and the San whose
desolate souls haunt the great expanses of the
beautiful Cape - they who fell victim to the
most merciless genocide our native land has ever
seen, they who were the first to lose their
lives in the struggle to defend our freedom and
independence and they who, as a people, perished
in the result.
Today, as a country, we keep an audible silence
about these ancestors of the generations that
live, fearful to admit the horror of a former
deed, seeking to obliterate from our memories a
cruel occurrence which, in its remembering,
should teach us not and never to be inhuman
I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to
find a new home on our native land. Whatever
their own actions, they remain still, part of
In my veins courses the blood of the Malay
slaves who came from the East. Their proud
dignity informs my bearing, their culture a part
of my essence. The stripes they bore on their
bodies from the lash of the slave master are a
reminder embossed on my consciousness of what
should not be done.
I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women
that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots
that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the
soldiers Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never