PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
This morning we remember the children and youths who stood against an oppressive regime in our beloved South Africa. We remember their heroism and their fight. In our own hearts, we thank them, for they all sacrificed.
Some, like Hector Pieterson, laid down their lives. Many gave up their education. But across the board, they all sacrificed their innocence. For our children could no longer be children, having witnessed the brutality of apartheid and the worst of human nature. They should have been on the playgrounds of our country. Instead, we found them on the battleground.
On behalf of the IFP, I salute every young South African who stood up for justice and freedom, and paid a price.
I cannot forget that chapter in our nation’s history for the memory of it is seared on my heart. I remember every graveside beside which I stood and wept, bereaved for another child lost to our liberation struggle.
A wound was opened in our nation. Something was stolen that can never be replaced. There are families who still feel the loss of their sons and daughters. As we walk in a liberated country, we know that their sacrifice was not for nothing. Yet was it not too high a price to pay?
In the midst of that battle for freedom, there were different ideologies. Despite fighting for the same cause, at times we followed different paths. Eventually, the liberation of our country came on the strength of every contribution.
Thus when we remember the founding fathers of our struggle, do so as fellow patriots, not as political opponents. This is why the IFP erected a tombstone on the grave of Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme. In the same way, when we remember those who sacrificed, we do so across political divides, for my freedom is the same as your freedom. We live in the same South Africa. It is a South Africa for which we all fought.
Today marks 40 years since the June 16th uprising in Soweto. Yet four decades has not dimmed our memory of that day. The image of Hector Pieterson dying in the arms of Mbuyisa Makhubo has become a symbol of youth resistance. We look at the disbelief on the face of his sister, Antoinette, as they ran from a hail of bullets, and we wonder how any of us survived that dark hour.
But we did. We survived and we conquered.
Thus we salute our fallen comrades. In their memory, we will keep working for a stable and prosperous democracy.