Opening of the Sport in the Struggle Exhibition, Freedom Park - 20 March 2018

Opening of the Sport in the Struggle Exhibition, Freedom Park - 20 March 2018

SPEECH BY

MS. TOKOZILE XASA MP

MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION SA

 

Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr. Gert Oosthuizen, MP

MEC of Arts, Culture, Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation in Gauteng,

Mrs. Nonhlanhla Faith Mazibuko, MPL;

Director – General of Sport & Recreation South Africa – Mr. Alec Moemi;

Acting CEO of SASCOC – Ms Patience Shikwambana;

To the veterans, the heroes and the heroines;

Our colleagues from the sporting fraternity, esteemed guests, family members of our heroes and heroines;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Members of the media;

 

Molweni and welcome to the official opening of the Sports in the Struggle exhibition

 

This exhibition, which has brought all of us here today, is a platform which evokes visual and historical memories of how chains of freedom barred many South Africans from participating in sports. It’s is therefore befitting for me to bring forth this relevant quote by our beloved and departed leader when he said:-

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”. This poignant statement expressed by uTata Nelson Mandela resonates with what this exhibition is about.

 

It also leaves us with a deep-seated message - after we have viewed the impact of effected chains on the lives of others, that never again may we be instrumental in driving policies which do not enhance and respect the freedom of others - particularly in our sporting landscape.

 

In the Department of Sport and Recreation, our motto is building an active and winning nation. This is one of the cornerstones of our country’s National Development Plan. In our endeavour to support this vision, our National Sport and Recreation Plan provides different stages of development and Social Cohesion and as such, there are at least 4 significant and note-worthy aspects which complement today’s opening for which we need to reflect on:

 

Firstly, the opening of the exhibition on the eve of the commemorations of Human Rights Day is intentional. The Sports in the Struggle exhibition as well as the commemorations of Human Right Day both carry the poignant reminders of the legacy left by heroes whose lives were compromised by the Apartheid regime’s policies. Just as many lives were lost as a result of the Apartheid regime, so too in the sporting space were many lives barred from being celebrated as athletes of the world because of the chains of Apartheid’s policies.

 

Secondly, the opening of the Sport in the Struggle exhibition here at Freedom Park bears another strategic symbolism to our exhibition. After all Freedom Park is a memorial to honour those who sacrificed their lives to gain the freedom we all enjoy today. We too, are showcasing a visual memorial account of those who sacrificed their lives using sport to gain freedom. In fact, just last week on the 10th of March 2018, the Freedom Park institution celebrated its fifth Ungasali International Annual Storytelling Festival whose theme for this year is “Stories Move Us Forward”. We too are adding to that festival today, we are here today to share sport stories that move us forward so that we may never again as a government implement policies which segregate and disempowered opportunities of others.

 

The third significance is that this exhibition adds historical content and value to the celebrations of the 100 years of Mandela. After all, no one understood the power of sport like Mandela. Mandela used sport to provide dignity and hope in the face of apartheid-sponsored oppression. He used sport to undermine discrimination with resistance, to heal and to help unite a society that the racial segregation of apartheid had brutally divided.

 

Under Mandela’s guidance, sport became a confirmation of possibility in that he used sport to transform SA’s image, to bring South Africans together and he used sport as a way to heal South Africa from its past. It remains unequivocal that Mandela was a strong advocate of sports diplomacy who understood that sport was probably the best tool to connect him with people he would have otherwise hardly reached.

 

Fourthly, the exhibition enables us to keep the legacy of honouring the forgotten heroes as well as to educate South African youth about the rich history of our sporting past and the injustices which the Apartheid system has visited onto the black majority. Lest our children forget the important lessons of inclusiveness and equity.

 

The Department has now revised its model to ensure that there is alignment between the National Sport and Recreation Plan and its campaigns and programmes. More especially, the Department’s new approach is to ensure that all its activities and social programmes resonate with the strategic approach of government. The strategic focus of the Department over the current medium term period will be to promote improved sector participation in sport and recreation, particularly for women, youth and people living with disabilities.

As part of our remodeled focus, driven by our strategic focus to build an “active and winning nation”, my Department will also aggressively focus on supporting the delivery of sport infrastructure; fostering transformation in sport and recreation; developing talented athletes by providing them with opportunities to excel; and supporting high performing athletes to achieve success in the international sporting arena.

 

So today, as we officiate the opening of this exhibition, we stand tall with patriotic pride of how much this exhibition means to us as South Africans, while recognizing that much lies ahead in terms of ensuring that we bridge the historic gaps, in the sports fraternity. The Sport in the Struggle exhibition takes us back in time by vividly giving historical accounts of the many legends who were worthy of being celebrated for their excellence in sports - but were never given such recognition and stature. The Sport in the Struggle Exhibition tells the stories of these forgotten sport heroes who, despite being denied the opportunity to excel on national and international levels of sport due to Apartheid, never gave up on their love for sport thus inspiring generations of people to date.

 

It was on the chilly morning of Thursday the 27th of June 1956, which came to be known as the Black Thursday, when the Apartheid Sports plan was put into effect by the then Apartheid government when they spelled out the policies of alignment of sports with the national laws of Apartheid. 56 years later, on 18 May 2012, the democratic government of SA approved an official government policy intended to redress the legacy left by apartheid in sports. The National Sport and Recreation Plan is therefore our blueprint to redress the legacy of the 1956 Apartheid Sports Plan and a vision to take us to future of equitable participation and inclusiveness in sport.

 

It is imperative, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen to reflect on this reality - it took half a century of implementation of the apartheid sports plan to leave the devastating legacy witnessed today - more so in the sporting landscape of our country. What this translates into - is what you will learn about today in this exhibition - the sacrifices of careers of well-meaning and talented men and women who never gained the international prominence deserved of them is honoured, celebrated and recognised through this exhibition.

In an engaging and entertaining way, the exhibition, brings to life some of the legendary names of a mostly undocumented and neglected part of our history. From rugby, to cricket, to athletics, golf and boxing are some of the sports that are featured in this uniquely crafted and educational exhibition.

 

We remember David Samaai whose community collected money to enable him to travel to England and compete at Wimbledon because apartheid restricted him for competing with credible opponents. 40 years later, we are proud to remind South Africans, that Mr. Samaai’s passion led him to captain the South African team.

 

Who can forget Ms. Mary Mofokeng - a female golf champion in her own right who because of Apartheid lacked female competitors and was thus forced to compete with men, and still held her own against those men. While tribute has been paid in the exhibition to many such specific individuals, there are many more forgotten heroes who contributed to achieving democracy in sport and thus the Sport in the Struggle exhibition is an on-going growing project to collect, preserve and celebrate sport history in South Africa.

Since its development in 2013 by SRSA, the exhibition has been touring different venues internationally and nationally, and now for the early part of the 2018 season, it will be based here at Freedom Park. We call upon all citizens - school learners and adults to make time and come and learn about these forgotten heroes and heroines. The exhibition will be here at Freedom Park from today until the 4th of May 2018.

 

So today, as we officiate the opening of this exhibition, we stand tall with pride of how much this exhibition means to South Africans - as a social cohesion tool whose continuing visibility to South Africans will serve as an educational nation building platform intended to remind us all to never again go back to a life when segregation became policy and lifestyle. Please enjoy the exhibition with us and I encourage you after today to bring your colleagues, friends and family to also take their turns to visit the exhibition.

 

SECOND PART - AT THE START OF THE EXHIBITS

 

Thank you once more. It’s truly a great honour for me to officiate at this gathering. I now request the other dignitaries to join me in the opening of this exhibition and holding the ribbon together.

 

I, Tokozile Xasa (MP) - Minister of Sport and Recreation and a Member of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, hereby declare The Sports in the Struggle Exhibition officially opened.

 

I Thank you.


Print Email