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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Tribute to His Excellency, Former President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Architect of the Free and Democratic South Africa

Hits: 2860 | Published Date: 16 Jan, 2014
| Speech delivered at: 67th Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Odinga Lumumba, MP

Mr. Lumumba: Mr. Speaker, I stand to support this motion. Before I proceed, I would like to quickly read the 5th December letter that the President of Guyana sent to his Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa. It reads:
“Dear President Zuma,
On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Guyana and on my own behalf, I wish to express to you and to the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa our sincere condolences on the passing of Former President Nelson Mandela.
This loss is not just one for the people of South Africa, but for Africa as a whole, and the world at large. Nelson Mandela was a giant in defence of human rights and for a free and just society, not only for his beloved South Africans, but for the oppressed the world over.
The world is much poorer after his passing for he was one of the most outstanding statesmen of all time.
The struggle he led with other distinguished anti-apartheid fighters has entered into the annals of world history as one of the most defining periods in our world.
However, it was not only the struggle, but the manner in which it was conducted which will always remain an example and an inspiration for others working for social and economic justice everywhere.
He was truly the Father of his Nation, tirelessly devoting his life to serving the people of South Africa with humility and dignity in leadership, and an unwavering commitment to preserving that hard won unity and the pride of liberation.
Highly loved and respected the world over, his memory will forever be cherished. For Guyana, this is particularly so, as we recall the strength of character which he continually displayed during those long, dark years of incarceration, a grave injustice. As we mourn now with South Africa, we rejoiced then, when he won his freedom and took his rightful place as leader of his country.
Mr Mandela’s name and work will endure throughout the ages. I have asked that the President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, convey our sympathy to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time.
Please accept Excellency the assurance of our hearts consideration.
Donald Ramotar
President of the Republic of Guyana”
Mr. Speaker, indeed this is a great moment. I would like to be a bit more personal because I was personal in the matter. I was one of the leaders of the six Pan-African Congresses, where I was able to sit with the leaders of the world, all the black leaders, all the black activists and all the black radicals, where we began to define the movement forward.
Member of Parliament (MP) Moses Nagamootoo made a very interesting point when he spoke about the ethnic mix. I was one of the leaders of the North American Delegation. I was surprised because we were very black focussed. I was surprised when we saw white women, in particular, in freedom fighting uniforms, carrying weapons, working with the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). That really surprised us because, at that point in time, we saw the movement as a black movement. It was interesting to find that there were white radicals involved in the struggle for the freedom and liberation of South Africa.
My house in Colorado served many times as a place of meetings for members of the ANC. The ANC was banned from America. Because they were banned, only supporters could participate. There were many Guyanese involved in that movement. That is going back to the days of Russell Mc Cannon, a Buxtonian who was an advisor to Kwame Nkrumah, to June Ward, who I first met in Dar es Salaam at the 6th Pan African Congress and Ralph Gomes. As a matter of fact, I first met Dr. Roger Luncheon in Washington, D.C. at the African Liberation March, which I used to coordinate with Kwame Ture.
I want to remind Member of Parliament Greenidge that the last time Miriam Makeba and Kwame Ture came to Guyana, I brought them. The then Government under Mr. Hoyte never repaid me my $25,000, but that is okay. That is old story.   [Mr. Neendkumar: Was he the Minister of Finance?]     We do not need to go down that road. 
In this struggle and this unity discussion, we must give credit where credit is due. We must give past President Burnham credit for allowing the Cuban troops to move through Guyana at a critical moment. Guyana played a critical role. If the Cuban troops did not go to Angola, South Africa would probably still be in the hands of the apartheid regime. We must always remember that.
I know Guyanese soldiers or ex-soldiers who live in Guyana, who were combatants who participated in the struggle in Angola. One, in particular, is very ill at this very moment in time - the Brigadier knows who he is - and I would hope that this Government and the Opposition come together as one to really take care of him. He is ill. I am not going to call his name, but we know who he is. We should see what we can do to ensure that he gets better health.    [Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: One of the many.]       I do not know about many. I know about who is alive now.
We speak about Mandela, we speak about unity and we talk about leadership. It is very important to note that the theme song for the ANC today is Bring Me My Machine Gun. It is very important that we understand that the ANC was prepared for military struggle to the end. We must understand that there are different views as to why Mandela is so loved. No other human being, in particular a black man or a black person, has ever been loved by so many world leaders. It never happened before. It is very strange; it is very historical and it is very important that at some point we analyse it.
Some views are that Europe and America were concerned about the retaliation and there were certain amounts of pressures that were put on Mandela for him to appease the situation.
As we read last week, only recently President Zuma has handed over some land to the black folks in South Africa after years of being in power because it is possible that South Africa might explode. I have been to South Africa in the recent times. We can understand what is happening in Alexandra and Soweto. There are terrible things happening in those areas. Time might be running out.
Even though we love Mandela and we understand his strength, there are things beyond that which we all have to look at.
So even though we love Mandela and understand his strength, there are things beyond that we all have to look at. Brother Nagamootoo made an important point.  I want to make this point that we have some issues such as the hydro-dam, the airport as we are trying to find homes for 300 people, the hospital and the roads. We seem to be in a situation here where, even though we are talking about Mandela and what he means by unity, we do not behave in a united manner. It has almost been two years and we cannot come together on anything fundamental to move this country forward. So we cannot get up and make fine speeches and talk about Mandela, and we want to be like Mandela, and when we leave that door none of us believe in Mandela. If we believe in Mandela, and if we love Mandela, we have to say from tomorrow we are going to accept Mandela’s principles, bury the hatchet and move forward to build this country. This is not a PNC, APNU or a PPP thing; this has to be a Guyanese thing. The public is tired of this. We are going to get a budget in a few weeks and it will probably be voted own for all kinds of foolish reasons, not any logical reasons.
I am saying the time must come when we have to sit down, we have to negotiate, if we have to quarrel, we must quarrel in a room and come out united as one people. This is a country of 700,000 persons, and if we cannot organise and unite 700,000 persons where are we going? What example are we setting for our children and our future generation? I do not want to do a whole lot of talking tonight. All I am saying is if we are in the spirit of Mandela do like Mandela. Mandela had a reason to wipe out every white person in South Africa and he did not. What are doing? What are we going to do? What are our challenges? Member of Parliament Basil Williams spoke as an Attorney, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo is an Attorney, Mr. Greenidge is an Economist. What are we going to do? Are we going to fight all year or are we going to sit down and agree to something? Are we going to say no to hydro so electricity rates go up and we keep getting blackouts all year round?
Mr. Speaker, I am appealing to this National Assembly for the last time. We are also running out of time just like in South Africa they almost ran out of time.
Thank you. [Applause]

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