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Guyana's Fifty-Second Independence Celebrations

28 May 2018

His Excellency, Professor, Dr. Cyril Kenrick Hunte, High Commissioner of Guyana hosted a reception to mark Guyana's Fifty-Second Independence Anniversary. Guyana was unwavering in its support for the liberation and freedom for South Africa and one significant contribution was providing landing rights and airport refueling facilities for Cuban troops travelling to Angola by way of Cape Verde in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale which marked the beginning of the end of Apartheid. Today Guyana values the cooperative and friendly relations that exists between the two countries and is confident that the bilateral relations will continue to grow.

Guyana is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society and "this diversity will be further enhanced, as we are expecting a second wave of emigrants coming to Guyana, following the recently discovered oil and gas in commercial quantities in our exclusive economic zone. This second wave is our first under an independent Guyana; and its focus is on the development of all the people of Guyana, as we strive to embrace our motto of ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny’," said Dr Hunte.

Guests were entertained by the Tshwane Gospel Choir, vocalist Arina de Witt and Kenrick Lowe, steel pan and saxophone player who performed Guyanese and Caribbean music. Guests left with Guyana’s world famous ‘EL Dorado Rum’ which is in the process of entering the South African market.

Speech by His Excellency, Professor, Dr. Cyril Kenrick Hunte, High Commissioner to South Africa from the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana

May 24, 2018

Thank you, Program Director, Mr. Kenneth McLean.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is indeed a distinct honor and privilege to welcome you all to our fifty-second, Independence-Day Celebrations.
A special welcome is extended to our Guest of Honor, His Excellency, Mr. Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, for kindly accepting our invitation.
 May I also welcome His Excellency, Mr. Bene Mpoko, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Excellences, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, our Colleagues in DIRCO, and our compatriots, living in South Africa, Botswana, and Guyanese visiting from Britain and the United States.    
Distinguished guests, allow me also on behalf of His Excellency, President David Arthur Granger and the Government and people of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, to extend special greetings to His Excellency, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa; and to Her Excellency, Ms. Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa.
Guyana highly value the cooperative and friendly relations that exists between our two countries; and we are confident that our bilateral relations will continue to grow under the proficient leadership of His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa.   
Ladies and Gentlemen, following Guyana’s independence in 1966, an important objective has been to integrate its many different cultures and build a cohesive society.  This is because Guyana is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, with descendants from Africa, India, China, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France and Portugal; and of course, our first people who were in the Americas long before Columbus arrived.
While our diversity poses challenges, it is acknowledged that our diversity is not a liability, but an asset to be harnessed.   Our diversity, like that of South Africa, is a source of strength for as long as we find the leavers that empower cooperation across the ethnic divide, while minimizing barriers that hinder development.   
Our diversity will be further enhanced, as we are expecting a second wave of emigrants coming to Guyana, following the recently discovered oil and gas in commercial quantities in our exclusive economic zone.   
Our first wave of emigrants was under colonialism and plantation agriculture. This second wave is our first under an independent Guyana; and its focus is on the development of all the people of Guyana, as we strive to embrace our motto of ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny’.   It is therefore in this environment that both countries can learn from each other, being that we are both heterogeneous societies and rainbow nations.  Words and music which best captures what needs to be done have already been written by a Guyanese composer, Mr. William Pilgrim. That particular song, ‘Let us Co-operate’ provides strength and direction that might be useful for both South Africa and Guyana; but more on this later.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, this year we join with South Africa in celebrating Nelson Madiba Mandela’s centenary birth anniversary.  Mandela believed and practiced reconciliation, inclusion, magnanimity and non-retribution, all of which brought dignity to the oppressed and to the oppressor, alike.
Consequently, it is in this context, and in the early 1970s, Guyana, led by President Forbes Burnham, was unwavering in its support for the liberation and freedom for South Africa, despite the international challenges that Guyana faced for working with others to ensure the dismantling of Apartheid. To this end, the Burnham government contribution can be tangibly demonstrated by the following activities:
-    Supporting resolutions at the United Nations to end Apartheid;
-    Disbursing annual financial contributions for the Liberation Struggle;
-    Seconding Public Servants to the Frontline States;
-    Providing landing rights and airport refueling facilities for Cuban troops  travelling to Angola by way of Cape Verde;
-    Granting  scholarships to students from the Frontline States;
-    Severing sporting contacts with Apartheid South Africa; and
-    Issuing Guyanese passports to the ANC Leadership, since they were denied passports by their own countries.   
Distinguished guests, Guyana established Diplomatic Relations with South Africa, after the first democratic elections were held in 1994.  And on January 16th 2014, following the death of President Mandela,  the Parliament of Guyana passed Resolution No. 64 in which it was stated, among other things, that the Government and people of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana acknowledged and will forever remember the exceptional courage and wisdom bequeathed to all humanity by Madiba.  His willingness to empathize with the disenfranchised signaled that justice and freedom ranked high on his life’s agenda. And speaking of the disenfranchised, Madiba in his 1994 Parliamentary Speech made the following observation; and I quote:
“Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression…’’.
End of quote.
I refer to this statement in recognition of the fact that during Apartheid many black women were mainly limited to under-paid chores as domestic servants and home makers.  In post-Apartheid South Africa, a new horizon is beckoning, for black women have been appointed to leadership positions in such offices as: Deputy President of South Africa; Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of Universities; Justices on the Constitutional Court; President of the Supreme Court of Appeal; Speaker of the National Assembly; and Ministers in Government, among other responsible jobs in South Africa.
These outcomes undoubtedly vindicate Madiba’s declaration that women have indeed begun the process of being emancipated from oppression, an outcome that mirrors what women in Guyana have enjoyed since Independence.  
With these positive changes in society, we therefore pay homage to two special women, Mama Winnie Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu, who put their lives on the line for the cause of freedom.
Mama Winnie Mandela was a beacon of light in the struggle to end Apartheid.  This is also true of Mama Sisulu, for whom this year we celebrate her birth centenary.  Both women were imprisoned and spent time in solitary confinement, while their husbands, Nelson and Walter, were imprisoned on Robben Island.  Hence, the unparalleled life and legacy of these two women, Mama Winnie and Mama Sisulu, can never be forgotten.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, our bilateral relations have been focused on strengthening economic and cultural ties; seeking educational opportunities to enhance human capital in mining and agriculture; expanding people to people exchanges; and working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Preliminary discussions have commenced between Universities in both countries, the purpose being to strengthen programs in Guyana. Similarly, discussions have been initiated with South Africa National Parks and the Department of the Environment.
The purpose of these engagements are to explore knowledge transfer options for eco-tourism; investigate the demarcation of national parks; examine the designation of protected areas and the protection of wildlife, while recognizing that these findings can improve our understanding of the ‘Guiana Shield’, which is a unique rainforest that is shared with Guyana’s neighbours, including French Guiana, Suriname, Brazil, Venezuela and Columbia.   
This is indeed a significant undertaking; for while we depend to a large extent on the extractive Industries, namely gold, bauxite and diamonds; and soon, manganese, oil and gas, we recognize that these activities must be subject to maintaining a sustainable Green State Development Outcome that protects the extensive biodiversity which is part of our natural patrimony.  And to this end, we believe that South Africa can assist us.
In relation to trade and private sector initiatives, we are in discussions with a few South African firms.  For example, we are in the project evaluation stage with a South African investor who is interested in establishing a gold refinery project in Guyana.  This will be a transformative project, even as miners conform to the Minamata Convention on Mercury.  
A marketing plan is currently being designed to sell Guyana’s world famous ‘EL Dorado Rum’ in South Africa. Some of my colleagues in the Diplomatic Corps have already sampled the ‘EL Dorado rum’, which is an ingredient in the ‘Guyana fruit-cake’.  El Dorado rum is made from fresh, raw sugar-cane, cultivated in Guyana’s rich alluvial soil.
Before you leave our celebrations today, you are welcomed to take a mini-bottle of our special Guyana ‘El Dorado Rum’.  And later this year, with the assistance of Ms. Susan Nell of SNELCO PRODUCTS, we are hoping to have the ‘El Dorado Rum’ marketed in South Africa.
Distinguished guests, we will soon sign a cultural agreement with South Africa; and noting that ‘Africa Day’ will be celebrated tomorrow, we felt we should present a short cultural presentation as part of today’s National Day Celebrations.
Before doing so, however, it is important that we pay homage to one of South Africa’s musical masters, the late Hugh Masekela, who passed away this year . He was a gifted trumpeter and a symbol of the diasporic musical fusion, for he not only collaborated with many musicians across Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States of America, but he also worked with many others to dismantle Apartheid.  
Our musical presentation will showcase the Tshwane  Gospel Choir, Ms. Arina de Witt, and Mr. Kenrick Lowe.
The last song which will be performed and titled, ‘Let us Co-operate’ was composed in the early 1970s by Guyanese Mr. William Pilgrim.   This composition has a special message about cooperative opportunities, reflecting the nature of our diplomatic engagements between and among countries and continents at the bilateral and multilateral levels, respectively. Being able to cooperate goes to the heart of our work as diplomats; for failure in this regard is not an option, given that the alternatives are very costly and may at times be detrimental to peace and stability.
In conclusion, permit me to make three final observations. First, allow me to acknowledge our performers and presenters today.   In this regard, our thanks is extended to several musicians, including Mr. Bheki Langa and the Tshwane Gospel Choir, who sang so beautifully for us the national anthems of both countries; and who will sing again later in our program.  A special word of thanks to Ms. Arina de Witt, an internationally known South African vocalist, whose captivating voice you will certainly enjoy.  Thanks to Mr. Kenrick Lowe, our steel pan and saxophone player, who will be performing Guyanese and Caribbean music. The steel pan was invented in Trinidad and Tobago in the early twentieth century; and it is an integral component of our Caribbean Culture. Thanks to the managers of our musical performances: Ms. Susan Nell, Mr. Bheki Langa, and Mrs. Claire Hunte, my wife, who collaborated to make our musical presentation possible today.  
Our thanks is extended to the management and staff of the Pretoria Country Club; our sound technician and photographer, and the TV stations who graced us with their presence.  A special word of thanks to my staff who contributed to the success of this event.
Third, noting that tomorrow May 25th is Africa Day, be it known that the Government and people of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana join in celebrating Africa Day with the 55 member countries in the African Union.   We wish you Peace and Prosperity; and we wish you a stronger integration movement that leads to a deeper degree of meaningful cooperation across the continent.
Finally, on behalf of my wife, Claire, and me, I thank you ladies and gentlemen for celebrating our National Day with us.




Speech by Ms Nonkqubela Thathakahle Jordan-Dyani, DDG: ICT International Affairs and Trade Branch, SA Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services

Please allow me the opportunity to extend the fraternal greetings and congratulations on behalf of the People and Government of South Africa.

It is my great honour and privilege to address you this afternoon on this occasion to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Independence of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

Relations between South Africa and Guyana are etched in historical friendship and struggle camaraderie occasioned by the struggle against Apartheid. Our friendship was therefore founded in the trenches of struggle informed by the common belief in human rights and justice. Our history is therefore written in the blood and sweat of our countrymen and women who sacrificed a great deal to deliver freedom to South Africa.

This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale which finally brought the UNITA and Apartheid forces to their knees. The victory of the FAPLA was made possible by the backing of Cuban forces. Not many people know that the Cuban aircrafts ferrying the combatants to Angola refuelled in Guyana en route to Angola. For this reason, we see Guyana as a significant contributor to our victory against Apartheid.

Marcus Garvey, the Caribbean son of the soil and a proponent of Black nationalism, once said, and I quote :

“Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men”.

End quote

It has become abundantly clear that the current day post-colonial countries were successful in attaining freedom while total liberation remains elusive. The bodies of men have been liberated but not their minds.

Similarly, we here in South Africa have, due to the assistance rendered by countries such as Guyana, attained our freedom, but like all post-colonial countries, we are still in the process of attaining total liberation. In the closing lines of his famous autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom” Nelson Mandela says, and I quote :

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

End quote.

Indeed, our freedom was the summit of just but one hill and there are many more to climb as we march towards total liberation. The camaraderie that we shared in the fight against Apartheid must guide us in our common quest to liberate all our people from the remnants of Apartheid/Colonialism. The key to total liberation is economic freedom and we must now double our efforts in increasing trade between our two countries.

The legacy that former President Mandela left us should continue to guide us as we celebrate what would have been the one hundredth anniversary of his birth. His counsel that we should not linger, should catapult our efforts to better the lives of our peoples through bilateral co-operation in mutually beneficial fields.

Encouraging trends towards that goal in the recent past have been an invitation to Deputy Minister Oliphant of Mineral Resources, to visit Guyana to share knowledge and experience on the mining sector. It is my hope and wish that the Deputy Minister will find time in his busy schedule to visit Guyana.

Similarly, South Africa’s experience in nature conservation, presents an opportunity for co-operation with Guyana in that field. On-going engagements with South African National Parks (SANPARKS) are testimony to possibilities for co-operation initiatives that could translate into economic benefits.  

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests,

We are engaged in efforts to bring our countries closer in the context of South –South co-operation. In this regard, we have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultations to provide structure to bilateral relations and enhance cooperation across the board. This would allow us to continuously share ideas on local, regional and global political developments that affect our countries.

We would like also to take this opportunity to thank you for the support of our  candidature to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) non-permanent seat for the 2019 – 2020 term. South Africa’s candidacy is driven by the legacy of President Nelson Mandela and his undying commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes. South Africa is also committed to the aspiration of the African Continent to “silence the guns” by 2020 – an objective and an ideal that South Africa would like to see achieved throughout the world. We count on your support and that of the other countries of the South as we carry the voice of the global South on the global and multilateral platform.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,

As I conclude, please join me in raising our glasses in toast to the Government and People of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana on this significant occasion as they celebrate 52 years of independence and to the prosperity of this remarkable country.

Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services of South Africa









February/March 2020

















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