Minister Anroux Marais' Speech at Revisiting Drakenstein Exhibition launch
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
REVISITING DRAKENSTEIN EXHIBITION LAUNCH
11 FEBRUARY 2019
Good evening, molweni nonke, goeienaand
I have always wondered how it would feel to walk in the footsteps of South Africa’s greatest statesman, to somewhat experience and reflect on the spaces and times our late great Nelson Mandela did. I have read the many written discourses by various world-renowned authors, one of my favourites being Zelda Le Grange’s Good Morning, Mr Mandela. I have watched the several documentaries available but not many have afforded me the tangible insight that visiting the spaces in which he found himself in very trying times does. The Robben Island Museum and tour, his private residence in Bishop’s Court and Cape Town’s City Hall are only but a few of these significant examples.
What an absolute privilege and honour it is to launch another iconic space today, the last in which Tata Madiba was a prisoner and transitioned into a free man and subsequently led our nation to a democratic state, ending years of draconian segregation. This place is of special significance as it was from here that Nelson Mandela was finally released on this day in 1990, 29 years ago. Making this launch more special is that the existence of the Mandela House is not known to many.
At Victor Verster, what Drakenstein Correctional Centre was known as at the time, from December 1988 until February 1990, Mandela was not imprisoned with other prisoners. Instead, he was kept secluded in this house which had previously been warders’ accommodation. This was most likely to facilitate the secret meetings which were taking place to pave the way for negotiations that would end apartheid. The house had not been curated and only open to visitors on request. As the exhibition recalls, the time spent in this house was a phase in Mandela’s incarceration that was top secret. A few journalists, political figures, family and close friends had access to him at this house.
Today, we openly share this history and pivotal part of not only Madiba’s journey but signifies the start of our liberation as a democratic nation. The Drakenstein Revisited exhibition indeed compliments the long standing 27 For Freedom Run which took place on these premises on Saturday. Much like the exploration of the Mandela House, the 27 for Freedom Run seeks to provide all South Africans, young and old, the unique opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Madiba as he led the way to building our democratic society – a small step in the eyes of many, yet a giant leap for all South Africans and the world at large. It is for this reason that Western Cape Government welcomes these initiatives to expand the Mandela Tourism Route which will further see economic opportunities created to empower our nation, another of the late Madiba’s lasting legacies.
True to his legacy, this exhibition united the three spheres of government, which in this current political climate, seems close to impossible. The launch today shows in real terms what can be achieved if we all work better together for the greater good of all who calls our great county home. I therefore thank the national Department of Correctional Services, the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA), our DCAS officials, Heritage Western Cape, the local Drakenstein Municipality and every person who had a hand in the success of today’s launch. Together, we have taken another step in our long walk to freedom.
I thank you.