Tribute by the Secretary General of the African National Congress, Cde Elias Sekgobelo Magashule, during the occasion of the cadres forum dedicated to the memory of one of the founding fathers of the national liberation movement – Cde President Pixley Ka Izaka Sem
The family and relatives of the late President of the ANC Cde Pixley Ka Izaka Seme,
The leadership of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress present here today,
The leadership of the Provincial Executive Committee of the African National Congress present here today,
The leadership of the ANC Veterans League,
The leadership of ANC Women’s League,
The leadership of the ANC Youth League,
The leadership of the South African Communist party,
The leadership of the Congress of the South African Trade Union,
The leadership of the South African Civic Movement,
The leadership of the Institution of Traditional Leaders,
The leadership of Umkhonto we Ziswe Military Veterans Association,
All Members of Parliament, Provincial Legislators and Councillors
The leadership of the institutions of traditional healers,
The leadership of the church community,
The leadership of the business community,
Representatives of the media houses,
Distinguished guests and friends,
Comrades and Compatriots;
On marking the occasion of the 107 years anniversary celebrations of the birth of our glorious Movement, the African National Congress, it is our great honour to be part of this momentous event, in memory of the life and times of one of the most outstanding heroic sons of our soil, and the founding father of our Liberation Movement, Cde President Pixley Ka Izaka Seme. On behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC, and its membership across the breath and the length of our country, we bring our revolutionary salutations to you the people of the Inanda community, the people of Ethekwini metro council, the people of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, the people of our country, the continent and the world.
Today we pay tribute to one of the founding fathers of our greatest, and the oldest, liberation movement in the continent, whose birthday we are celebrating at the Moses Mabhida stadium here in the city of Ethekwini, Kwazulu-Natal Province. Today we are paying tribute to one of the towering giants of the struggle for the liberation of our people against imperialism and colonialism.
During the occasion of this important historic day we remember the founding fathers of our movement. We remember all the pioneers of our liberation movement who bestowed upon themselves, the selfless and indestructible leadership role of being the architects of our struggle.
We salute all volunteers of the struggle of our people, all those who dedicated their lives for the freedom and dignity of our people. They have into our hands planted the seeds of a revolutionary movement which today has become the premier instrument of our struggle for the total liberation of our people.
We salute sons and daughters of our glorious movement such as John Langalibalele Dube, Sol Plaatje, Walter Rabusana, Sam Sefako Makgato, Alfred Mangena, Meshack Pelom, Charlotte Maxeke, Thomas Mapikela, Daniel Dwanya, Reverend Mqobili, Reverend H.R.Nqcayiya, Thomas Zini, Richard Msimang, George Montsioa, Levi Mvabaza, James Majozi, John Mocher, King Dalindyebo of the Thembu, Chief Montsioa of Barolong, King Letsie II of Basotholand, King Dinizulu of the Zulu kingdom, King Sekhukhune of Bapedi kingdom, Chief Lewanika of the Lozi tribe, chief Khama of the Tswana and Queen Labotsibani of the Swazi and many other of our courageous warrior men and women.
President Pixley Ka Izaka Seme was the son of Isaka and Sarah Seme born on the 1st of October 1881 in the present province of Kwazulu-Natal. He obtained his primary education at a local missionary school were he passed his subjects with distinctions. His industrious work impressed the American Congregationalist missionary, Reverend S.C. Pixley, to arrange for him a scholarship to study at the Mount Hermon School, Massachusetts, in the United States of America. He furthered his studies at Colombia University in New York where he graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree.
During his tenure as a student at the university of Colombia, he won the highest oratorical honour of the university, the George William Medal. His oratory talent received the esteemed honour during the seminal debate on the topic about the” Regeneration of Africa”.
With his fabulous oratory power, during the debate about the regeneration of Africa, he espoused the following words of his vision about the future of the people of the African continent:
“The brighter day is rising upon Africa, yes, the regeneration of Africa belongs to this new and powerful period. The African people posses a common fundamental sentiment which is everywhere manifest, crystallizing into one common controlling idea.
The regeneration of Africa means that the new and unique civilization is soon to be added to the world”.
After his outstanding academical achievements at the university of Colombia, with financial assistance from the missionaries, he enrolled at the Jesus College in Oxford in England, where he obtained a Bachelors degree in Civil Law. At the end of the completion of his studies he was admitted to the Bar at the Middle Temple in London.
Cde President Pixley Ka Seme distinguished himself in his career when he represented the Swazi Monarch King Sobhuza II during an appeal on a land dispute against South Africa before the English Privy Council during the year 1926. In 1928 his prestige was again increased to a higher pedestal when the University of Colombia, his alma mater, bestowed on him an honorary Doctorate of Law.
Cde President Seme was the son in law to the Zulu and the Swazi royal families. He was married to a Princess, Phikisele Harriet Dinizulu, the daughter of Zulu King Dinizulu and Lozinja, the daughter of the Swazi King Mbandzeni.
He was an intellectual of a special mould, and a courageous leader of the struggle of our people. He became an embodiment of the struggle of the African people and a true internationalist who occupied the forefront trenches to fight against all manifestations of tribalism, regionalism and narrow nationalism.
Despite his tremendous academic milestone achievements, he returned back to his native land South Africa, to dedicate his life to the struggle for the emancipation of our people from imperialism and colonial domination. His everlasting commitment was to lead the struggle for the freedom and dignity of the majority (especially African people) of our country.
When the British House of Commons passed the South African Act of the Union in 1909, which was ratified by the South African white parliament in 1910, an Act which prohibited the black people as eligible citizens in their own country of birth, Pixley Ka Seme, became amongst those who unleashed the momentum for the formation of a national organization, which would represent the wishes and the aspirations of the oppressed people of our country.
With much concern about the unfolding historical events of the formation of the Union of South Africa, he worked closely with some of the leaders who studied in England. Among others he worked closely with Cdes Alfred Mangena, George Montsioa and Richard Msimang, and became part of the pioneers to promote for the formation of the African Native National Congress.
Together with many other African leaders, they crisscrossed our country, mobilizing our people against the formation of the whites only Union of South Africa, which was excluding the black (mainly African) majority of our country, and also to support the formation of a single united national movement, which would represent the wishes and the aspirations of all the black people of South Africa.
During the year 1911 Pixley Ka Seme wrote a letter to all regional structures of African formations from all corners of our country inviting them to a meeting to form a national organization of the African people. In the letter he said the following important words:
“It is conclusively urgent that this meeting should meet this year because a matter which is so vitally important to our progress and welfare should not unnecessarily be postponed by reasons of personal differences and selfishness of our leaders.
The demon of racism, the aberrations of the Xhosa Fengu feud, the animosity that exist between the Zulus and Tongas, between the Basutho and every other native, must be buried and forgotten.
We are one people, those divisions, those jealousies are the causes of our woes and all the backwardness and ignorance that exist today”.
Again, during the historic consultative mass meetings held at the area of Eshowe in the province of Natal before the formation of the ANC, he expressed the following profound words about the political necessity of the unity of black people in general:
“We have long been asking for representation, we commenced asking the government of Natal, before the union, and we asked because of our not having a voice in the making of laws affecting us, laws, even, which are against our feelings.
I say let unite not only amongst ourselves, but with the Tsongas, Swazis, Sotho, Mpondos, and no longer refer them with contempt. We want the South African natives subjects of his majesty the King, both within the union and beyond it, to unite and ask’ why is it that we native people living here, subjects of the King, should have no representative”.
These were some of his propelling words of courage which motivated our people to appreciate the need for the formation of a national convention which will represent their interests against the marauding racist government of the Union of South Africa, which was hellbent to marginalise the majority of the people of our country. He spoke of a national convention which will represent the parliament of the people of the African continent and therefore all their wishes and aspirations of the people.
The culmination was the convention of the first founding conference of the African Native National Congress, which was held at the Waaihoek church in Bloemfontein (Mangaung) on the 8th of January 1912. The African National Congress which has today grown into the singular custodian of the true values and traditions of a democratic South Africa, giving expression to the democratic and non-racial aspirations of our people.
The principles which the ANC, throughout the years has consistently stood for and are unequivocally stated in the preamble of the Freedom Charter which says; “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people”. This is the fundamental principle which has guided our beloved Movement throughout its century of struggle to create a South Africa that is free, just and belonging to all who live in it.
The gathering was attended by all progressive formations of our society from across the length and breath of our country and the overall Southern African region. Amongst others present, were representatives from the peasants community, farmers, traders, workers, chiefs, professionals, musicians, authors, poets and all other sectors of society.
During his opening address to the historic plenary of the founding conference Pixley Ka Seme said the following overarching words:
“Chiefs of the royal blood and gentlemen of our race, we have discovered that in the land of their birth, Africans are treated as chewers of wood and drawers of water. The white people of this country have formed what is known as the Union of South Africa, a Union in which we have no voice in the making of laws and no part in their administration. We have called you therefore to this conference, so that we can together devise ways and means of forming our national union, for the purposes of creating national unity and defending our rights and privileges”
The political essence of his inaugural address to the founding conference was about the reality that it would be difficult to achieve national unity as the occasion was the first moment to bring tribes of different languages and cultures in the first meeting. He was confident that the formation of the Congress was the first important initiative to resolve the native question.
At the end of the speech Pixley Ka Seme became religious and said that the hour has come when Ethiopia would stretch forth her hands unto God, and when princes shall come out of Egypt. DelegSogasates followed him by signing Tiyo Sogas: ”lizalis lakho thixo, Nkosi yenganiso“, (fulfil the promise God thou Lord of Truth).
Thereafter he formally moved a motion to the plenary calling for the formation of the South African Native National Congress. Different speakers supported the motion and called for the unity of the different tribal formations. They unanimously agreed that they would go forth and tell their people that the South African races are one.
This is the generation of men and women whom history shall forever remember of being the first to adopt the slogan expressing the unity and action of the African people Mayibuye i Africa, the National Anthem Morena boloka setshaba sa hesu (Nkosi Sikelela Africa), and the black, green and gold colours of the flag of the African National Congress. History will forever enshrine their immense contribution towards the achievement of our common determination for the freedom and self determination of our country, and the entirety of the African continent.
Today as we celebrate the 107 anniversary of the birth of the ANC, we continue to be imbued by his glorious path to accomplish the objectives of our noble struggle for the total liberation of our people. We continue to be inspired by his extraordinary acts of heroism to our struggle for the emancipation of the vast majority of our people from the bondage of imperialism and colonial subjugation.
In his memory we shall ensure that there is unity and cohesion within the ranks of our movement and our people. We shall ensure that we become true and selfless servants of the struggle of our people.
We shall ensure that we continue to be part of the common effort to improve the living conditions of our people. We shall continue to be part of the agenda to eradicate poverty, disease and underdevelopment which are still the dominant characteristic features of our society.
We shall continue to ensure that we provide quality and essential services such as education, health, housing, water and sanitation, safety and security to millions of the people of our country in the far flung villages and townships. We shall continue to ensure that we build an ideal South Africa of hope and prosperity.
We humble ourselves today before the people of this province, and our country, and indeed appeal to our people to vote for the ANC during the upcoming national general elections. The ANC commits itself to continue to fulfil our principal leadership role of accelerating the process for the radical transformation of our society – especially Radical Economic Transformation (RET) so that are people truly determine their own destiny.
The ANC commits itself of ensuring that it will accelerate the process of bringing back land to the majority of our people. Our focus is to ensure that the previously oppressed majority of the people of our country, the black people in general and the Africans in particular, become part of the ownership of the mainstream economy.
Pixley Ka Seme’s immense courage and dedication to the cause of our struggle for the freedom and dignity of our people is what defines the leadership role of the ANC in the present phase of our transition for the building of a national democratic society. He has indeed earned for himself an honoured place in the glorious chapters of our history books as a true servant of the struggle of our people.
His singular commitment to a free, democratic and prosperous South Africa will forever inspire all the generations of man to come. Our task is to follow in his footsteps, and to complete the historic mission of our National Democratic Revolution (NDR).
We thank you