25 September 2012
South Africa should use the centenary of Alexandra to build a more united and prosperous country founded on the principle of ubuntu, President Jacob Zuma said as Johannesburg’s famous township marked 100 years of existence on Saturday.
Alexandra was first proclaimed as a township for white workers who were removed from Johannesburg city centre in 1905. In 1912 the plots in Alexandra were sold to African and Coloured people with freehold rights, making the place a “native township”.
“We must use this milestone to dedicate ourselves more than ever before to build a united and prosperous South Africa built on the foundation of ubuntu, dignity and respect,” Zuma said during Saturday’s celebrations at Alexandra Stadium.
The President said the township oozed pride and resilience while it was also associated with well-known South Africans like Joe Modise and the Mahotela Queens.
Stand up for rights ‘without losing dignity’
South Africans needed to stand up for their rights without losing their dignity, he said. “South Africans are not hooligans, we are a nation of proud, respectful people who stand up for their rights and do so without losing their dignity and ubuntu.
“We must promote this national pride as we don’t want the world to develop a wrong impression of South African people,” the President said, adding that societies needed to take stock and reflect at certain times.
“We must not be shy to reflect on what has gone wrong within society in general,” Zuma said. “We’ve heard of shocking incidents of men raping little girls. This is not a society or nation we want.”
The country needed to reflect on the causes of brutality and how this could be stopped, as the perpetrators came from within the community.
“It’s a painful reality for every society to have to deal with, but we have to confront it. I believe we must have this discussion about the renewal of the social fibre of communities without delay.”
‘Bring back culture of peaceful protest’
Zuma urged society to bring back a culture of peaceful protest, of upholding the right to life.
“The culture of violent protest which threatens lives and property have no place in a democratic society when people have a government that they can talk to through various structures. We cannot destroy that which we have built ourselves, and we cannot continue organising protests in which people die.”
This, he said, called for serious reflection “among ourselves about the way in which we do things.”
Zuma also warned against workers negotiating labour issues without labour unions.
“Workers of Alex and anywhere in our country should not think that what happened in Marikana is the way to go. When workers chase away trade unions and negotiate their own deal with employers, that is a danger. Workers in the past didn’t have trade unions and they were not protected, they were victims of employers.”
Earlier, Zuma visited the Nelson Mandela Yard Heritage Precinct to plant a tree. In 1940, Mandela left home in the Transkei and moved to Alexandra, where he found lodging with a local reverend before moving next door. The house, which had no water or electricity at the time, is on the corner of Richard Baloyi and 7th avenue.