Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma has challenged all South Africans to learn from the Great King Hintsa, and put the country and its people first before everything else.
Accepting the King Hintsa Bravery Awards conferred by King Zwelonke Sigcawu during a ceremony held on Tuesday at Willowvale, Eastern Cape, President Zuma confessed that the award was different from the ones he had received previously and acknowledged the contribution at a leadership level as well as at an educational level.
The King Hintsa Bravery Awards were initiated in 1999 and are bestowed upon persons who have made a sterling contribution to humanity and impacted on the lives of African people.
"This award talks directly to our experience as Africans, it talks to the contribution of the African leaders during the wars of resistance, it talks to the leaders who sacrificed everything for the African people.
"It talks to their heroism as well as their greatness in thinking and putting their people and their country above everything else. It talks as well to the greatness of African leaders which was displayed as they responded collectively to the challenge of colonialism in 1912....but the award also talks to those who carried out the struggle for the whole century and finally delivered freedom in 1994," Zuma said, adding that the award also talks to African values.
Zuma said he felt more humbled to be honoured with the Hintsa award and felt like a warrior who had survived a long and brutal war after defeating the enemy, and was being recognised and appreciated by his King.
"I feel like a warrior who is receiving the recognition on behalf of many other warriors who have fallen before him. I take it as recognition of many of the African leaders who made a contribution to our country. I receive it on behalf of all leaders of our liberation movement and all people of this country."
The President also reaffirmed government's commitment to restore the role and dignity of traditional leaders.
He noted that there were traditional leaders who were litigating against the decisions of the Nhlapo Commission and Government will await the decisions of the courts on those matters and will pronounce upon the judicial findings.
He said the new commission in the Department of Traditional Affairs was proceeding well in investigating more disputes and claims and progress in that regard was satisfactory.
"Claimants continue to be informed as soon as their claims are finalized, as we move on, we need to stabilise the area of traditional rule, minimize conflict and succession feuds and enable traditional councils and their traditional leaders to play a role in the development of their communities, as Hintsa and many others of their time did.
"Their time should not be wasted by having to constantly look over their shoulders fearing that some cousin or brother may be after their throne. The Minister informed me that they are drawing genealogies of all traditional councils to ensure that we no longer rely on oral tradition but can and will always refer to a recorded family tree that can stand the test of time.
"This will be the best tribute we can pay to our ancestors Hintsa, Cetshwayo, Sekhukhune, Moshoeshoe and many other warrior kings who fought so bitterly so that we can be what we are today," he said.
Zuma further challenged traditional leaders to be at the forefront in the fight against global warming and the preservation of the environment for generations to come. He invited Amakhosi to lead the government in taking the campaign of promoting a green environment forward.
"I am certain that the Department of Environmental Affairs, in collaboration with the House of Traditional Leaders of the Eastern Cape can explore a joint campaign such as that."
Paying tribute to King Hintsa, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet said King Hintsa's contribution to the fight against colonialism and the stealing of their land was well documented and will remain etched in the history books of this nation.
"No amount of torture could deter King Hintsa and his people from defending the land of their forefathers. I have no doubt in my mind that if he were alive King Hintsa would have contributed together with other leaders of our movement to a speedy down fall of the apartheid government and the formation of a democratic, no racial, non-sexist and a prosperous South Africa.
"In the democratic South Africa he would without reservations challenge us to do more, fast, to emancipate our people from poverty, unemployment and inequalities," said Kiviet.