Africa: We Must Continue the Long Walk - Ambassador

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Such insights come to those who see adversity as an opportunity, not to nurse your injuries, but to harness them into a mighty thing for justice; not to accumulate your grievances, but to transform them into an enduring commitment to human dignity; not to be cowed by the omnipotence of your opponent, but to fortify your belief in the inevitable victory of righteous purpose; and not to despair for the desperate and fearfulness of victims of poverty, hunger, injustice, inequality and oppression, but to galvanize them into a movement of inspired human agents engaged in disciplined action for a common goal.

Madiba cannot be a flitting meteor, he cannot pass out of existence - because he has unfinished business. He's not here to do it himself, and so those who have seen in his legacy a worthy cause and those who see in his values a guiding light, we are called to rise to the occasion. The advanced world is seeing the limitations of growth at the altar of never-ending consumption and the environment is groaning under the burden. Our country South Africa along with so many other countries of the South, especially in Africa, are on the verge of prosperity, but carry still the burden of poverty, disease and poor education. The women of the world, despite advances in education, health, and living standards, may be forgiven for thinking that with every advance comes a proportionate deepening of patriarchy.

We are the inheritors of those struggles, but our enemies will no longer present themselves as they presented themselves to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to Nelson Mandela. We must no longer fear so much the Casspirs of Soweto and the dogs of Alabama; we must fear the fading memory, we must fear forgetting where we come from, who we are, what we stand for, and where we are going. We must not fear the lynching of the south or the bullets of Sharpeville, but we must fear the disconnectedness and insularity, the individualism and the selfishness that tells us that poverty is because of laziness, disease because of immorality, and violence is in our genes. We must not fear so much the whips in Mitchell's Plain and the batons of Selma as the complacency that will tell us that our struggle is over because of a post-racial dawn that arose when Nelson went into the Union Buildings and Barack Obama into the White House. It is not over until God says it is over.

The long walk to freedom is not over. More hills are waiting to be climbed. Madiba is not here to light the path with his courage and his sacrifice. Each of us who has been inspired by him, touched by him, and moved by him must do the long walk. We must confront every psychological institution and physical hill until we have won a world that is more equal: where women are respected, where a stranger is not branded as "the other", and where our youth and children can dream again. Our country South Africa and our people are deeply honored that you have come here today to commemorate the death and celebrate the life of probably our greatest son, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Thank you very much.

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InFocus

Continue Madiba's Long Walk

Ambassador Rasool speaking at the Mandela memorial service in Washington, DC.

Ebrahim Rasool, South African ambassador to the United States, spoke of continuing Madiba's legacy at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the National Cathedral in Washington, ... Read more »