Dinner in Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of aQuellé


KwaSizabantu: 19 October 2018


Twenty one years ago, my dear friend the Reverend Erlo Stegen told me that an underground spring had been discovered at KwaSizabantu. They would be doing tests, he said, to check the quality of the water.

Just a few months later, I was in Cape Town for the parliamentary sitting, and I noticed that my staff in the Ministry of Home Affairs were drinking a new brand of bottled water. It was called aQuellé.

I don’t think any of us anticipated how dramatic the journey of success would be.

This evening, as we celebrate twenty years of this journey, I want to honour the Lord for His goodness. To me it is quite evident that God Himself has blessed every step of the way.

How else does one explain the phenomenal growth of this business, over such a short period of time? Twenty years is very little in the life of a business. To grow from a raw material to the point where your product is available in almost every major retailer throughout the country, is remarkable. But to do this in twenty years, is a miracle.

Why would the Lord support this business in particular, when countless businesses fail every day in the present economic climate? I believe it is because aQuellé is run on a foundation of faith and because it has good business ethics. I also believe it is because the success of aQuellé is part and parcel of an evangelical project to serve needs and spread the gospel.

I can only applaud the way that Mr Arno Stegen is running this business. By tying its marketing to outdoor sporting events, family values are being promoted, as well as the importance of a healthy lifestyle. These are good messages that underpin the values of KwaSizabantu.

KwaSizabantu has helped so many people over so many years, restoring health, wellbeing and relationships. There is good being done here, in the heart of Zululand. So I am not surprised by the presence of pure, good water, welling up here and nourishing millions.

Tonight, I cannot help but remember how the Israelites, a people in dire need who were leaving their oppression behind, struggled to find water. After three days they came to the oasis of Marah, where the water was too bitter to drink. They wept and complained and railed against their leader.

But Moses cried out to God for help, and the Lord miraculously made the water good to drink. He then made a covenant with the people. If they would listen to His voice and do what is right in His sight, He would be their healer.

They didn’t stay at Marah. We are told that when they took the next step of their journey, the came to the oasis of Elim. There they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped beside the water.

I recount this because so many who come to KwaSizabantu are thirsty and in need. They are leaving oppression behind them and looking for a new life. What the world can offer is bitter. Only the Lord can make it sweet. But if we continue on with Him, He leads us to goodness that we never thought possible.

It is hard not to think of the tremendous symbolism of water. I love the idea that pure, good water from KwaSizabantu is being distributed throughout South Africa. But I also love the more prosaic aspects of this business. I am a conservationist at heart and it matters a great deal to me that aQuellé is actively conscious of its carbon footprint.

I appreciate that its bottles are fully recyclable. Recycled PET bottles can become sports shoes, or fiberfill for jackets and sleeping bags. They can become car parts, fuse boxes, carpet fibre or upholstery. There is a second life for these bottles, and that too is a good message.

I am therefore honoured to celebrate aQuellé’s anniversary, knowing this journey has been a good one. May there be greater things in store as the journey continues.

I give you my warmest congratulations.