Minister Meyer's Address at the 2nd World Goju Ryu Championships
Address delivered by the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport Dr Ivan Meyer at the welcome function of the 2nd World Goju Ryu Championships held on 12 September 2013 at the DF Malan Memorial Hall, Coetzenberg Sport Complex, University of Stellenbosch.
The President of World Goju Ryu Karate Do Federation Mr Humberto Nuno Oliveira
The President of the Africa Goju Ryu Karate Do Federation Ms Liliam Kattan
The Deputy President of Karate South Africa, Mary-Ann Landers
Ambassadors, Consul-Generals and members of the diplomatic corps
Member of the Mayoral Committee for Stellenbosch Municipality, Councillor Pietman Retief
Technical officials, team managers, coaches and karateka
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to address you this evening.
On behalf of the Western Cape Government I trust that every representative of the 30 participating countries has settled in and that you indeed feel more than welcome in Stellenbosch, one of the most beautiful parts of the Western Cape.
Over the next couple of days you will be united by something that you all have in common – karate.
It is karate that has contributed and continues to contribute to your physical and mental development, and also teaches you the values of respect, courtesy, humility and diligence.
It is precisely these values which, given your different cultural backgrounds, positions each one of you to contribute to what I believe to be so sorely needed in modern day societies. Some call it tolerance, I call it cultural warmth.
So what is cultural warmth?
Firstly, cultural warmth is generated when we stand back for a moment and make space for other cultures.
To be ethnocentric is to put my culture, my belief and my language first. This is counter-productive because it creates mistrust, is arrogant and implies the superiority of one culture over another. This is too reminiscent of Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” ideology. Ethnocentrism continues to be a contributing factor to wars and conflicts today. Red lights go on whenever people are fanatical about language, culture or faith. Fundamentalism, ethnocentrism and even ethnic nationalism is the breeding ground for conflict, anarchy and social disharmony. South Africa’s history tells the story of Afrikaans nationalism, African nationalism and, more recently, ethnic nationalism. This road is a dead end.
Secondly, a person’s attitude and disposition to people often creates a context favourable to cultural warmth.
Growing up in an apartheid South Africa meant that, as a child, I brought friends home who looked like me and spoke like me. Today my two sons bring friends home who neither look like them nor talk like them. There is a profound lesson for me in this. Children do not have the same baggage that adults do. What children have in common is that they just want to play and enjoy themselves. When we as a society have a common goal, we lay the foundation for unity.
Thirdly, cultural warmth breaks through race and colour boundaries, as long as we have a common goal.
I have a friend in Calvinia in the Northern Cape which is one of the nine provinces in South Africa. He is older than me. He is a Muslim, and I am a Christian. Whenever I visit his home in Calvinia and we sit down for dinner, he asks me to pray and bless the food. Why would a Muslim ask a Christian to pray at his dinner table? I have thought long and hard about this and come to the conclusion that my friend Moosa understands cultural warmth. Cultural warmth is manifested when we stand back for a moment to allow other cultures into our personal space. In other words, he is not pushing his culture down my throat; he is creating cultural warmth without diminishing his own faith. In fact, I have more respect for my Muslim friend and his faith because he radiates cultural warmth and tolerance. By doing this, he is sending ethnocentrism out of his back door.
Finally, cultural warmth gives effect to your personal and institutional values.
Cultural warmth is not something superficial, it is not a temporary accommodation of the other, and it is not an artificial tolerance or attitude.
This championship provides you with the opportunity to compete, and also gives expression to the positive impact of cultivating virtues such as honesty, humility, concern for others, patience and strength on your life and the way you relate to others.
The prime objective of your karate movement is to promote and develop Goju Ryu while building healthier relationships amongst all practitioners of your style. The Western Cape Government shares this objective, as we believe that sport is the ideal platform to build a socially cohesive society.
Let me conclude by quoting former President Nelson Mandela who said:
“Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”
May this tournament leave your inspired, united and with a renewed resolve to break down barriers which create conflict in this world.
I trust that you will have a successful championship and that that each one of you will use the opportunity to plant and nurture the seed that will lead to a better world.
I thank you.