Am an African
of the Republic of South Africa
I owe by 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-coloured 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 African!
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 dependence 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 again.
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 me.
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
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 to dishonour the cause of freedom.
My mind and my knowledge of myself is formed
by the victories that are the jewels in our African crown, the
victories we earned from Isandhlwana to Khartoum, as Ethiopians
and as the Ashanti of Ghana, as the Berbers of the desert.
I am the grandchild who lays fresh flowers on
the Boer graves at St Helena and the Bahamas, who sees in the
mind's eye and suffers the suffering of a simple peasant folk,
death, concentration camps, destroyed homesteads, a dream in
I am the child of Nongqause. I am he who made
it possible to trade in the world markets in diamonds, in gold,
in the same food for which my stomach yearns.
I come of those who were transported from
India and China, whose being resided in the fact, solely, that
they were able to provide physical labour, who taught me that we
could both be at home and be foreign, who taught me that human
existence itself demanded that freedom was a necessary condition
for that human existence.
Being part of all these people, and in the
knowledge that none dare contest that assertion, I shall claim
that - I am an African.
I have seen our country torn asunder as
these, all of whom are my people, engaged one another in a
titanic battle, the one redress a wrong that had been caused by
one to another and the other, to defend the indefensible.
I have seen what happens when one person has
superiority of force over another, when the stronger appropriate
to themselves the prerogative even to annul the injunction that
God created all men and women in His image.
I know what if signifies when race and colour
are used to determine who is human and who, sub-human.
I have seen the destruction of all sense of
self-esteem, the consequent striving to be what one is not,
simply to acquire some of the benefits which those who had
improved themselves as masters had ensured that they enjoy.
I have experience of the situation in which
race and colour is used to enrich some and impoverish the rest.
I have seen the corruption of minds and souls
as (word not readable) of the pursuit of an ignoble effort to
perpetrate a veritable crime against humanity.
I have seen concrete expression of the denial
of the dignity of a human being emanating from the conscious,
systemic and systematic oppressive and repressive activities of
other human beings.
There the victims parade with no mask to hide
the brutish reality - the beggars, the prostitutes, the street
children, those who seek solace in substance abuse, those who
have to steal to assuage hunger, those who have to lose their
sanity because to be sane is to invite pain.
Perhaps the worst among these, who are my
people, are those who have learnt to kill for a wage. To these
the extent of death is directly proportional to their personal
And so, like pawns in the service of demented
souls, they kill in furtherance of the political violence in
KwaZulu-Natal. They murder the innocent in the taxi wars.
They kill slowly or quickly in order to make
profits from the illegal trade in narcotics. They are available
for hire when husband wants to murder wife and wife, husband.
Among us prowl the products of our immoral
and amoral past - killers who have no sense of the worth of
human life, rapists who have absolute disdain for the women of
our country, animals who would seek to benefit from the
vulnerability of the children, the disabled and the old, the
rapacious who brook no obstacle in their quest for
All this I know and know to be true because—I
am an African!
Because of that, I am also able to state this
fundamental truth that I am born of a people who are heroes and
I am born of a people who would not tolerate
I am of a nation that would not allow that
fear of death, torture, imprisonment, exile or persecution
should result in the perpetuation of injustice.
The great masses who are our mother and
father will not permit that the behaviour of the few results in
the description of our country and people as barbaric.
Patient because history is on their side,
these masses do not despair because today the weather is bad.
Nor do they turn triumphalist when, tomorrow, the sun shines.
Whatever the circumstances they have lived
through and because of that experience, they are determined to
define for themselves who they are and who they should be.
We are assembled here today to mark their
victory in acquiring and exercising their right to formulate
their own definition of what it means to be African.
The constitution whose adoption we celebrate
constitutes and unequivocal statement that we refuse to accept
that our Africanness shall be defined by our race, colour,
gender of historical origins.
It is a firm assertion made by ourselves that
South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.
It gives concrete expression to the sentiment
we share as Africans, and will defend to the death, that the
people shall govern.
It recognises the fact that the dignity of
the individual is both an objective which society must pursue,
and is a goal which cannot be separated from the material
well-being of that individual.
It seeks to create the situation in which all
our people shall be free from fear, including the fear of the
oppression of one national group by another, the fear of the
disempowerment of one social echelon by another, the fear of the
use of state power to deny anybody their fundamental human
rights and the fear of tyranny.
It aims to open the doors so that those who
were disadvantaged can assume their place in society as equals
with their fellow human beings without regard to colour, race,
gender, age or geographic dispersal.
It provides the opportunity to enable each
one and all to state their views, promote them, strive for their
implementation in the process of governance without fear that a
contrary view will be met with repression.
It creates a law-governed society which shall
be inimical to arbitrary rule.
It enables the resolution of conflicts by
peaceful means rather than resort to force.
It rejoices in the diversity of our people
and creates the space for all of us voluntarily to define
ourselves as one people.
As an African, this is an achievement of
which I am proud, proud without reservation and proud without
any feeling of conceit.
Our sense of elevation at this moment also
derives from the fact that this magnificent product is the
unique creation of African hands and African minds.
Bit it is also constitutes a tribute to our
loss of vanity that we could, despite the temptation to treat
ourselves as an exceptional fragment of humanity, draw on the
accumulated experience and wisdom of all humankind, to define
for ourselves what we want to be.
Together with the best in the world, we too
are prone to pettiness, petulance, selfishness and
But it seems to have happened that we looked
at ourselves and said the time had come that we make a
super-human effort to be other than human, to respond to the
call to create for ourselves a glorious future, to remind
ourselves of the Latin saying: Gloria est consequenda—Glory
must be sought after!
Today it feels good to be an African.
It feels good that I can stand here as a
South African and as a foot soldier of a titanic African army,
the African National Congress, to say to all the parties
represented here, to the millions who made an input into the
processes we are concluding, to our outstanding compatriots who
have presided over the birth of our founding document, to the
negotiators who pitted their wits one against the other, to the
unseen stars who shone unseen as the management and
administration of the Constitutional Assembly, the advisers,
experts and publicists, to the mass communication media, to our
friends across the globe—congratulations and well done!
I am an African.
I am born of the peoples of the continent of
The pain of the violent conflict that the
peoples of Liberia, Somalia, the Sudan, Burundi and Algeria is a
pain I also bear.
The dismal shame of poverty, suffering and
human degradation of my continent is a blight that we share.
The blight on our happiness that derives from
this and from our drift to the periphery of the ordering of
human affairs leaves us in a persistent shadow of despair.
This is a savage road to which nobody should
This thing that we have done today, in this
small corner of a great continent that has contributed so
decisively to the evolution of humanity says that Africa
reaffirms that she is continuing her rise from the ashes.
Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing
can stop us now!
Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace!
However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will
Whoever we may be, whatever our immediate
interest, however much we carry baggage from our past, however
much we have been caught by the fashion of cynicism and loss of
faith in the capacity of the people, let us err today and say—nothing can stop us now!
Statement of Deputy President TM Mbeki,
on Behalf of the African National Congress, on the Occasion of the
Adoption by the Constitutional Assembly of “The Republic of South
Africa Constitutional Bill 1996.” Cape Town, 8 May -- Issued by:
Office of the Deputy President
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an African (video)
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The Haitian Revolution, 1791 to 1804: Or, Side
Lights On the French Revolution
This is a reproduction of a book published before
1923. This book may have occasional imperfections
such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures,
errant marks, etc. that were either part of the
original artifact, or were introduced by the
scanning process. We believe this work is culturally
important, and despite the imperfections, have
elected to bring it back into print as part of our
continuing commitment to the preservation of printed
works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of
in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this
The Haitian Revolution, 1791 to 1804. By T. G. Steward.
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1915. 292 pages. $1.25.
Reviewed by J.R. Fauset. The Journal
of Negro History.
Vol. I., No. 1, January. 1916.
In the days when the
internal dissensions of Haiti are again thrusting her into the
limelight such a book as this of Mr. Steward assumes a peculiar
importance. It combines the unusual advantage of being both very
readable and at the same time historically dependable. At the
outset the author gives a brief sketch of the early settlement
of Haiti, followed by a short account of her development along
commercial and racial lines up to the Revolution of 1791. The
story of this upheaval, of course, forms the basis of the book
and is indissolubly connected with the story of Toussaint
L'Overture. To most Americans this hero is known only as the
subject of Wendell Phillips's stirring eulogy. As delineated by
Mr. Steward, he becomes a more human creature, who performs
exploits, that are nothing short of marvelous. Other men who
have seemed to many of us merely names—Rigaud,
Le Clerc, Desalines, and the like--are also fully discussed.
Although most of the book
is naturally concerned with the revolutionary period, the author
brings his account up to date by giving a very brief resumé of
the history of Haiti from 1804 to the present time. This history
is marked by the frequent occurrence of assassinations and
revolutions, but the reader will not allow himself to be
affected by disgust or prejudice at these facts particularly
when he is reminded, as Mr. Steward says, "that the political
history of Haiti does not differ greatly from that of the
majority of South American Republics, nor does it differ widely
even from that of France."
The book lacks a topical
index, somewhat to its own disadvantage, but it contains a map
of Haiti, a rather confusing appendix, a list of the Presidents
of Haiti from 1804 to 1906 and a list of the names and works of
the more noted Haitian authors. The author does not give a
complete bibliography. He simply mentions in the beginning the
names of a few authorities consulted.—J.
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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All
By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that
wealth is rooted in much more than the
market. True wealth has more to do with
what's in your heart than what's in your
wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons
became one of America's shrewdest
entrepreneurs, achieving a level of
success that most investors only dream
about. No matter how much material gain
he accumulated, he never stopped lending
a hand to those less fortunate. In
Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare
blend of spiritual savvy and
street-smart wisdom to offer a new
definition of wealth-and share timeless
principles for developing an unshakable
sense of self that can weather any
financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy
can make you money, but money can't make
* * * * *
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of
By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the
rosy picture of race embodied in Barack
Obama's political success and Oprah
Winfrey's financial success, legal
scholar Alexander argues vigorously and
persuasively that [w]e have not ended
racial caste in America; we have merely
redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial
segregation has been replaced by mass
incarceration as a system of social
control (More African Americans are
under correctional control today... than
were enslaved in 1850). Alexander
reviews American racial history from the
colonies to the Clinton administration,
delineating its transformation into the
war on drugs. She offers an acute
analysis of the effect of this mass
incarceration upon former inmates who
will be discriminated against, legally,
for the rest of their lives, denied
employment, housing, education, and
public benefits. Most provocatively, she
reveals how both the move toward
colorblindness and affirmative action
may blur our vision of injustice: most
Americans know and don't know the truth
about mass incarceration—but her
carefully researched, deeply engaging,
and thoroughly readable book should
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The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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If you like this page consider making a donation
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 11 December 2011