File photo: Motshwari Mofokeng

Here is the full text of the speech delivered by Lindiwe Hani on the 21st anniversary of Chris Hani’s assassination.

Good morning all.

It is an honour to represent the Hani family on a momentous occasion the 20years of democracy. Standing on the precipice of my Father's grave I am humbled and grateful as always for the support of the South African people, the dedication of the SACP, ANC and its affiliates to keep honouring Chris Hani's life and his dedication to the fight for a free, non-sexist and non-racial republic of South Africa.

Twenty one years have passed since that day my father was gunned down senselessly in the presence of his middle daughter. Twenty one years since a Father and husband were ripped from a family and twenty one years since dedicated leader was taken from our country.

The question we hear from all facets of the media is “what would Chris Hani say about the state of the country today”? That is a question nobody can possibly answer and I tend to find speculation incredibly dangerous. Twenty years of democracy is not to be taken lightly especially considering the depraved system we inherited. There is a lot of great that has been accomplished, just in the same manner as a lot of work still ahead. The struggle didn't end twenty years ago, its face just shifted but aluta continua.

I do not recall a time that my Father was not passionate regarding the fight against apartheid, right now most 12 year olds are probable concerned about frivolous things due to the sacrifices made but at the same age Chris Hani was busy contemplating the following “In 1954, while I was doing my secondary education, the apartheid regime introduced Bantu Education which was designed to indoctrinate Black pupils to accept and recognise the supremacy of the white man over the blacks in all spheres. This angered and outraged us and paved the way for my involvement in the struggle. The arraignment for Treason of the ANC leaders in 1956 convinced me to join the ANC and participate in the struggle for freedom. In 1957 I made up my mind and joined the ANC Youth League. I was fifteen then, and since politics was proscribed at African schools our activities were clandestine. In 1959 I went over to university at Fort Hare where I became openly involved in the struggle, as Fort Hare was a liberal campus. It was here that I got exposed to Marxist ideas and the scope and nature of the racist capitalist system. My conversion to Marxism also deepened my non-racial perspective. “

As a family we believe that we were very blessed to have had our father in our lives, his positivity towards South Africa. His wholehearted belief in the people of his country is one of the qualities we were fortunate enough to be a part of. I recall coming home from school and feeling the excitement of learning that the African National Congress had been unbanned. Even at such a young age the feeling of hope was palatable. My mother just kept on telling us “your father is coming home, your father is coming home. AS much as leaving our entire life towards the unknown it was as scary as we were doing it as a family, finally.

Arriving in the long awaited promised land of my father, we were full of anticipation but at the same time quite nervous. This was the country after all that had not wanted us but my father did not share those concerns. With every challenge we faced he kept reiterating that this is the beginning and things will get better. The following words I believe encapsulates his thoughts then “'this is not the time to emphasise our differences. It is our job to build on the highest level of unity we can develop to take ourselves forward, not to narrow sectarian goals but the broad democratic system that is in all of our interests.”

Looking at our country now through my daughter's eyes my heart lightens as I watch her going through her daily life with no concept of boundaries or fear. This is the ultimate goal that my Father, Solomon Mahlangu, Oliver Tambo amongst many others were fighting for. Twenty years later after the first democratic elections we are surrounded by confident kids that still look to us for more guidance, peace and prosperity in our amazing country. Our work still continues.

The price of freedom was very high for many families in South Africa across the spectre, I do not believe that anyone went unscathed in this conflict, my own father stated “”What right do I have to hold back, to rest, to preserve my health, to have time with my family, when there are other people who are no longer alive -- when they have sacrificed what is precious, namely life itself?”

This holds true to all of us today, this is still our country and will be our legacy. It is up to all of us to give our best to our country at all times. We will also be judged by our children on what we chose to do when it mattered; holding back is not an option.

Considering that I am still two years from being a youth no more. I would like to urge the youth of this country to participate in our hard earned democracy. We know from history that it was incredibly ugly. We can overcome this. As long as we choose to engage with the proper structures without aggression or malice, I repeat WE can overcome this.

I would like to conclude by quoting the man we came here to honour. Our Leader who we still draw strength from and use as a guiding light “I think, finally, the ANC will have to fight a new enemy. That enemy would be another struggle to make freedom and democracy worthwhile to ordinary South Africans. Our biggest enemy would be what we do in the field of socio-economic restructuring; creation of jobs; building of houses, schools, medical facilities, overhauling our education, eliminating illiteracy, building a society which cares. We must build a different culture in this country, different from Africa, different from the Nationalist Party. And that culture should be one of service to people.”

Long live the spirit of Oliver Tambo

Long live the spirit of Joe Slovo

Long live the spirit of Steve Tshwete

Long live the spirit of Walter Sisulu

Long live the undying spirit of Chris Hani, Long live!!!

Thank you