Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to pay tribute to the person I call the greatest hero Africa has ever produced.
Mr Speaker, at the peak of the campaign to release Mandela, I was in England and all kinds of activities were held to draw the world's attention and put pressure on the apartheid South African Government to release Mandela.
The greatest activity that was held under this scheme was the Wembley Stadium event, under the title: “Free Nelson Mandela,” and I was part of the crowd; and indeed, Mr Speaker, you could tell from the hundreds of thousands of people within the stadium and its environment that the people were genuinely asking for this great African to be given his freedom.
On freedom day, I remember, like yesterday, it was a Bank Holiday in England and I had gone to a friend's house for a meeting of the alumni of Opoku Ware Secondary School. We just could not believe our eyes when we saw the television pictures of Mandela walking out of prison. That is an impression which would stay with me forever. This is because it meant that, indeed, this great African had, under the pressure from the world, been released by his captors, the apartheid South African Government.
Mr Speaker, when Mandela came out of prison, the debate was the strategy to fight apartheid, whether by peaceful means or force of arms. Mandela came out of prison and he stood on the side of a peaceful means to liberate the people of South Africa from the bondage of apartheid. This brings me to the debate which was then raging in Africa among the leadership on the methods to use.
Of course, some leaders were vowing for violence to overthrow the South African Government, and others like the great Prof. Busia opted for dialogue. I am glad to say that dialogue prevailed and it was that got the freedom for the people of South Africa.
Some of us have very personal experiences about State dictatorship and taking away freedoms from individuals of the State. It, therefore, comes as a personal experience to see how this great man actually suffered for 27 years in prison, all in the hope that his people would be liberated.
Mr Speaker, I would like on this occasion, again, to add my voice to those of my Hon Colleagues to pay tribute to the great hero Africa has ever produced.
Deputy Minister for Education (Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa) (MP): Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity to support this very important Statement ably made by the Leader of this House.
Mr Speaker, yesterday, we all witnessed the overwhelming and unanimous solidarity that the world expressed at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium, where over 100 current and past leaders and ordinary people of the world gathered to eulogise the life and legacy of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Mr Speaker, Mandela defeated apartheid, but in the process, he has also defeated long-held stereotypical views about African leaders, about the African character and about the African spirit. Mandela proved that good can be found in every man no matter his race, no matter his background, no matter his religion or sex.
As we celebrate the dismantling of apartheid, we ought to remember that there is also an economic and social battle to be waged. The celebration of Mandela should not put us to sleep but it should rather energise us for the battles ahead.
Mr Speaker, an analysis of South Africa's census indicates that black South Africans are still far behind white South Africans. In 2001, white-led households earned US$17,000; by 2011, it had shot up to US$30,000, and yet, black South Africans largely remain impoverished. Another study, the South African Reconciliation Barometer, also revealed that less than 40 per cent of South Africans socialise with people of other races.
Just 22 per cent of white South Africans and a fifth of black South Africans live in racially integrated neighbourhoods. Schools remain heavily segregated. Only 11 per cent of white children go to integrated schools and just 15 per cent of black children attend integrated schools. This shows that the battle is not over.
Apartheid today has worn many masks and the oppressor has taken different forms, be it with unfair world trade, be it with the United Nations political architecture, be it with the ongoing global agriculture subsidy debate, there is the need for us to remember that there is an unfinished business which we have to rededicate ourselves to.
Mr Speaker, as we praise Tambo, as we praise Sisulu, as we praise Winnie, as we praise Biko, we must not forget the proud reputation that this country, Ghana, also has. It was our own Cpt Kojo Tsikata (retd) who joined forces with other African soldiers in the celebrated battle of Quito Quanavale in 1987 and defeated the South African apartheid forces. That, according to many historians, was the most damaging blow to the brutal South African apartheid machine.
Mr Speaker, when Madiba was invited to his house for dinner, the prosecutor who had argued in the Revonia Trial that Mandela should be hanged to death, Madiba was teaching us that tolerance should go beyond superficial smiles and handshakes.
When Madiba wore the number 6 jersey of the Springboks being the captain's jersey in a game that had been reserved strictly for white South Africans, Madiba was teaching us to use sports to unite and heal wounds. That is why it is most despicable that African sportsmen are still being racially taunted in Europe.
When Madiba directed his Ministers not to sack white civil servants in their Ministries, he was teaching us that we must give trust a chance in nation- building.
Mr Speaker, as we speak, the embalmed body of Madiba in glass is being taken through the principal streets of Pretoria, South Africa over the next three days before he is finally laid to rest on Sunday. May all those who see Madiba's funeral cortage, either at close range or across the world through the powerful lenses of the media, be reminded that it can take one man to make a difference and that between good and evil, God has never been neutral.
I thank you for this opportunity, Mr Speaker.