Item 1099 - Speech Delivered by Dr. Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress at the Soofie Astana Springfield Durban

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ZA COM MR-S-1099


Speech Delivered by Dr. Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress at the Soofie Astana Springfield Durban


  • 1992-04-12 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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  • English

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The Master of Ceremonies, Hazrat Shah Mohammed Soofie, Moulana Abdur-Raouf Soofie, Imam Javed Soofie, Imam Khalid Soofie, all other members of the respected Soofie family, Comrades in the service of humanity, ladies and gentlemen. May PEACE BE UPON YOU.

The African National Congress is honoured to join you on this occasion of observing this Springfield Darbar's 85th anniversary. W regard this as an appropriate occasion to pay a deserving tribute to the great contribution made by your founder Hazrat Soofie Saheb and those who succeeded him in his mission of service to humanity. II is also a fitting occasion for us to address the entire Muslim community of Natal and to place on record our acknowledgement of the contribution made by its members to the cause of freedom. And justice in our country.

In 1895 when Hazrat Soofie Saheb arrived in Natal from India, he began his great task of preaching unity of all our peoples. He raised high the flag of peace and non-racialism. Two years before his arrival the young M.K. Gandhi had also come from India and the two of them have a very special place in the history of our country. Gandhi, as a young lawyer, and Hazrat Soofie Saheb worked closely together. In fact the Title Deed of the Soofie Saheb's Riverside Property is a hand-written document by Gandhiji and as such it has become a valuable Gandhiana.

Let me say at the outset that when the notorious Group Areas Act was enacted in 1950, one of its too numerous victims was the Soofie Saheb's Riverside property, a portion of which was expropriated in the name of race purity. And Riverside became a White Group Area. But in this disgraceful act of dispossession too the towering Soofie presence still remains there, with thousands continuing to pay homage to your great founder. No one can ever eliminate the truth for which Soofie Saheb stood and his name will be respected and honoured by all who cherish justice and peace.

Your 85th Anniversary Brochure has given a vivid account of your Springfield development since it was founded in 1907 by Soofie Saheb himself, We want to compliment all members of the Soofie family at present connected with the service this centre is giving to so many regardless of race or creed. Indeed your centre has a great South African significance and on this occasion we hope and pray that you will continue to grow from strength to strength and enter the new Democratic South Africa for which your founder worked tirelessly and of which he dreamed.

On this occasion I want to record the respected position so many Muslims occupy in the democratic struggle where they made common cause with the freedom loving peoples of all faith. Long before the arrival of S.S. Truro in Durban in 1860, in the Cape great Muslim fighters for freedom against Dutch imperialism were brought from Java Sumatra and other parts of Asia and put into prison at Robben Island. With slaves of other faiths they have made Robben Island an historic monument, and a place of pilgrimage by Muslims a/ non-Muslims.

During the Gandhian era in South Africa Ahmed Mahomed Cachalia, Imam Bawazeer and others became internationally known fighters for freedom with resisters drawn from all faiths. And in the 1946 Passive Resistance Yusuf Dadoo, Zainab Asvat, Amina Pahad and other~ played vital roles with Dr. G.M. Naicker, Nana Sita and Moulvi Cachalia. In our list of great martyrs, the names of Imam Haroon, Babla Saloojee, Ahmed. Timol and others occupy as important a place as that occupied by Steve Biko, Abraham Fischer and so many other leading members of the African National Congress.

In my Eid message I referred to the Muslim contribution in the cause of freedom and today I want to add that the educational role of Soofie Saheb in South Africa and in Lesotho was most vital. Guided by the Quranic teaching that 'MANKIND IS ONE' and by the sayings of the last prophet of Islam (may peace be upon him) the Soofies have persisted in demonstrating that "SERVICE TO HUMANITY IS SERVICE TO GOD". Towards that "ONENESS OF HUMANITY", South Africa has taken a long time to reach as far as the Government of this country is concerned.

I began my address to you with the traditional greetings of PEACE. As we all know the word ISLAM is PEACE in Arabic. Today more than ever our country is in need for PEACE and HARMONY among all her people. The African National Congress is committed to peace, and to peaceful negotiations leading to a non-racial democracy in South Africa.

We have continued to stress that it is the Government's duty to end all unrest. It is equipped to do so. It has a powerful army and police force and yet it has failed to do so. Law and Order have to be restored before we can make the desire progress towards a functioning democracy. We want you to join us in making the legitimate demand on the Government to end all violence, for which blame lies in the final analysis with the authorities.

We are perfectly justified in blaming the security forces against whom evidence has come even before the Courts of Law in South Africa. The Government has thus far failed to do its duty.

From the great amount of welfare work you do among 11 section: of South Africans, you are fully aware of the tremendous, hardships that apartheid has imposed on all Black South, Coloureds and Africans. You know from experience that unemployment is on the increase and that the Blacks are the greatest sufferers.

Racial disparity in even old-age pensions continue. In education health services, welfare services and in job opportunities our people continue to suffer on grounds of race. Even in 1992 my people and I have no vote of any kind in South Africa. To us the BOOK ON APARTHEID remains wide open. But we with the combined efforts of all the people of South Africa will close that book of nightmares.

We will do so by ending the tri-cameral parliament and in its place having a non-racial democratic parliament, fully committed to affirmative action for the ending of all the imbalances imposed by centuries of race discrimination. On that road we have begun to travel. Let us not forget that the initiative for the present negotiations came from the African National Congress itself and it is that initiative that has resulted in the coming into being of Codesa.

We want you to give the African National Congress and its allies, your full support as South African Muslims, for the establishment of a society in which religious, language and cultural rights of every South African will be fully protected in the Constitution with a Bill of Rights. We want a genuine democracy for all the citizens of South Africa. And when that happens the dream of the great Soofie Saheb will have become a reality.

The African National Congress is calling for an Interim Governing Council to replace the present regime and we want the new South African Constitution to be drawn by a Constituent Assembly consisting of elected representatives. We want proportional representation and we want decisions of the Constituent Assembly arrived at by a two-thirds majority. These are vital safeguards to protect political minorities. We want your support on these issues.

There is a need to issue a warning on new comers to the cause of non-racialism. The African National Congress has stood for non-racialism from the day it was founded in 1912. But in 1992 there are many organisations which are now supporting non-racialism and say that they have rejected their past racism. We welcome all genuine converts but beware of those who give lip-service to non- racialism but remain racists at heart. History is full of such people, who existed at Medina even in the days of the last prophet of Islam (may peace be upon him).

We want you to remain steadfast to your principles as we have done. In the new South Africa we are shaping there will be no room for racism or ethnic preferences, just as there was no room for such evils when Islam founded the new non-racial society in Medina over fourteen hundred years ago.

Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and many of its followers in South Africa have worked with people belonging to other faiths for the common good of all. When we are in the midst of shaping a new democratic society, we rely heavily on human experience of the past and present. And in doing so we recall the last sermon deli delivered by Prophet Muhammad ( May Peace Be Upon Him) when he spelled out that humanity was one; that an Arab was not superior to a non-Arab and that the colour of one's skin mattered not in judging human worth.

In South Africa today, all those who have consistently opposed racism, have the historic task o± leading our country united to the new democratic dawn that awaits South Africa. My appeal for maximum unity in the ranks of all democrats in South Africa is based on the fact that such unity is most essential in finally defeating apartheid. From this platform I once again make this appeal for the coming together of all our political parties that have opposed apartheid and all forms of race discrimination. Our salvation lies in our own hands.

We want the Muslims of South Africa to continue to play their role in this period of transition as they have done in the past. We want you to join us in this great tack of uniting all the forces of progress and democracy in our country. We want to see South Africa regain its peace and harmony.

With these words once again I congratulate you on your 85th anniversary and record our appreciation of the positive work you are doing among peoples of all faiths. I express the hope that when you observe your next anniversary, the Book on Apartheid will have been finally closed with our combined efforts for democracy and that human dignity will have been restored to all South Africans, regardless of race, colour or creed.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 12/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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