I am an African
Thabo Mbeki`s speech at the adoption of the The Republic of South Africa Constitution Bill
8 May 1996, Cape Town
Esteemed President of the democratic Republic,
Honourable Members of the Constitutional Assembly,
Our distinguished domestic and foreign guests,
On an occasion such as this, we should, perhaps, start from the beginning.
So, let me begin.
I am an African.
I owe my 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…
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…
As an African, this is an achievement of which I am proud, proud without reservation and proud without any feeling of conceit.
I am an African.
I am born of the peoples of the continent of Africa.
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!