Ms. Ferguson: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members, it is my honour this new day to stand and make my contribution towards this timely motion standing in the name of the Prime Minister and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs.
A lot has been said about this great icon of which some have identified the late Nelson Mandela. However, I want to make my presentation in a different format. According to the first And Whereas clause Guyana has long recognised Nelson Mandela as the genuine and legitimate Leader of the South African people, a freedom fighter to support arms struggle after years of nonviolent struggle against apartheid; the internationally known and loved political prisoner imprisoned for 27 years for campaigning against the barbarous and iniquitous system of apartheid which pervaded every aspect of live in South Africa. If we are to make a parallel to this particular clause in 1964 when the late Nelson Mandela arrived in Robben Island, where he spent 18 of his 27 years in prison, there he was more or less confined to a cell, his bed was made the floor.
I must let Hon. Members know that during his time of imprisonment - and we must not forget this, and it must be placed on record - the founder Leader of the People’s National Congress, the late President Forbes Burnham, was the engineer who launched a national signature campaign for the release of nelson Mandela and made African liberation his battle cry. In this regard the late President urged the national media to wage a sustained campaign to educate and inform the Guyanese public, and wider Caribbean public by extension, about the horrors of apartheid and the unjust incarceration of Nelson Mandela and other African freedom fighters.
What is most import here is that while in prison Nelson Mandela was able to more or less win the prison officials in Robben Island. He became the master of his own prison cell. There he would have shown strong leadership skills to his supporters who were fighting on the outside. What we all should take from this great icon is that he would have made a number of powerful statements. One such statement or quotation we want to refer was made during his treason speech in 20th April, 1964. This is what Nelson Mandela said:
“It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, my lord if needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members, if we are to look at the various quotations given by this great man we would have seen that he knew exactly what he was about. From the time he would have started the struggle against apartheid to the time of him being released from prison the quotations speak a lot.
In a press statement carried on 26th June 1961, this is an ANC press statement, given by him, I quote:
“For my own part I have made my choice. I will not leave South Africa nor will I surrender. Only through hardship...”
We would have seen exactly what played out while he was in prison in Robben Island. He was made to work hard in the quarry.
“...and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days”
Another quotation that really touched me was after his release from prison. This is what he said before his supporters, the entire South Africa and the entire world to some extent:
“I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you the people; your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I, therefore, place my remaining years of my life in your hands.”
During his inauguration as the first black President of South Africa on 10th May, 1994 this is what he said:
“The time for healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.”
As a young aspiring leader I implore on my other colleagues here in the National Assembly that in order for us to take Guyana forward there are many, many things we can emulate from this great man. We would have seen here in our own society how the politics would have more or less divided our Nation. If this man can stand during his inauguration speech and say:
“The time for healing has come. The moment to bridge...”
Whatever differences we have, I think, we in this great land can take some of what Mr. Nelson Mandela has left us with.
Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members the last clause:
“Be It Resolved,
That this National Assembly formally offers its profound condolences to the entire Mandela family and to the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa.”
We know it has been one month since we all mourned his loss, since the great man has been laid to rest. On behalf of A Partnership for National Unity and my own behalf I would like to take this opportunity to extend our condolences to the family, and we support the motion standing in the name of the Hon. Prime Minister.
Just before I take my leave in the interest of time, I have referred to Mandela’s inauguration speech, but after becoming President, we would have heard from my colleague here, he would have taken those who would have fought against him and placed them in his Cabinet. Comrades we would have seen that after his release from prison he did not build hatred. What he did was move on because he knew for a fact that they had a country to build and to develop. In these few words Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members, I and my colleagues on this side of the House do support this motion.
Thank you very much. [Applause]