Key Note Address by Minister Mthethwa at the Andrew Mlangeni Green Jacket Awards

15 October 2019

12 OCTOBER 2019
Programme Director
Isithwalandwe / Seaparankwe, Dr. Andrew Mlangeni; the Stalwart of our liberation movement
The Mlangeni Family and friends present tonight
The Acting Director General of the Department of Sport and Recreation
The Director General of Arts and Culture
Members of the June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation
Our esteemed 2019 Andrew Mlangeni Green Jacket Awards Recipients and family members
Distinguished guests
Members of the fourth power
Ladies and gentlemen, I am certain you will agree with me that it is indeed an honour to preside over these Awards bearing the name of one of the two surviving Rivonia Trialists.  The great leader of our times.  A remarkable man, Andrew Mokete Mlangeni.  A man with many names.  A man who due to the hardships of apartheid at some point had to be Percy Mokoena, had to be Rev. Mokete Mokoena, had to be Prisoner 467/64.  A man who because of his personality and love for his people and his country is affectionately called by young and old “Om (Oom) Andrew Mlangeni”.  The humblE man who calls himself “the Backroom Boy”.
“Motlokwa” Izindla zedlula ikhanda.  

We are indebted to you for allowing the Department to continue using your name in honouring the great sports persons of yester years who due to the injustices of apartheid were relegated to the periphery of society simply because of the colour of their skins.  These are the Black pioneers in sport who excelled way beyond what their White counterparts could achieve.  The Sports persons par excellence whose prowess never received the recognition so deserved.  Just because of their race!

Through the name of Andrew Mlangeni we are bequeath with the power to recognise and honour the contribution of these heroes, to heal the scars of apartheid, restore the dignity of the marginalised and create a society of citizens who are proud to be South African.  Mr Mlangeni epitomises the power of sport to overcome and triumph over hardships, fight and defeat the societal ills.  This, as we battle the plague of violence perpetuated against women and children and as we emerge from yet another dark patch in our society wherein, we witnessed barbaric attacks on fellow brothers and sisters from other countries.  It is the triumphant spirit of Andrew Mlangeni and the great sports persons we are honouring tonight that assures us of a better South Africa and that victory over the challenges facing our society is indeed certain.

Dr Andrew Mlangeni is undoubtedly the personification of ‘Life Long Participation in Sport” as he at age 94 still occasionally enjoys a round of golf whilst some of us here are not even half his age may not  even walk or jog a skimpy 10 meters.  You can take a leaf off his life’s book and “Choose 2BActive”.

Ladies and gentlemen please join me in extending a word of appreciation to our special guests tonight for accepting my invitation to grace this occasion and to receive the Andrew Mlangeni Green Jacket Awards.  Your contribution to sport and to the South African society may have been suppressed by the Apartheid Regime but tonight we are rewriting history as I on behalf of the Democratic Government of the Republic South Africa in conjunction with the Andrew and June Mlangeni Foundation are celebrating and honouring your lives and those of the departed fellow sports persons.

In South Africa the slogan “no normal sport in an abnormal society” encapsulated the conviction that as long as the regime excluded the majority of its people from participating in society as equals, it should be excluded from participating in international sports competitions as equals. For white South Africans (and their apologists), sporting isolation was a bitter pill to swallow. 

Citizens of our country are very passionate about sport. It is closely tied to national identity, and the symbolic effects of sporting sanctions have more profound effects than economic sanctions may be for many citizens. 

We appreciate the collective talent you have displayed in your time. Despite the challenges of marginalisation, discrimination and lack of access, you have managed to participate in and make your mark not only on the field of sport, but to the development of your communities and in the area of politics. 

You are the epitome of a quotation of the first President of Democratic South Africa, the late President Nelson Mandela when he said:  “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”

South Africa and the sporting fraternity is a better country today because of your resilience and sacrifices.

We thank you