Cape Town – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa invoked the names of Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela in his address at the official opening of the Empilisweni HIV/Aids and orphans centre in Ndevana in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.
“Empilisweni is us. It embodies the death-defying spirit and enduring resilience of our people. It is the life-giving gift we shall bequeath to the beautiful ones yet to be born,” said Ramaphosa, according to the copy of his speech sent to media.
“It is the unbroken continuation of the gift of Biko and Black Community Projects at Zanempilo Community Health Centre,” he said.
“From Empilisweni, life everlasting shall spring and join the tributaries of the ancient Buffalo River. It will rise and stand steady like the Amathole Mountain; and from its top, it will carry our hopes and dreams to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.
“Zanempilo is here to heal the sick and console the heart-broken.”
Ramaphosa said the centre will be “a shining monument to Madiba and our Constitution for we shall work to keep it a sanctuary of our children”.
He paid tribute to the “good women and men of this community” who look after children with HIV.
“We salute them for caring about the dignity and dreams of the most innocent among us. Heaven is theirs to claim. They do all this work in an environment where there is lack of funding for non-profit organisations. They do it simply because they care a great deal about our country,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa also thanked the centre’s social partners “who embrace the basis of African philosophy, that you are because I am”.
“They are the true champions of our people. They are the true friends of the founding father of our nation, Nelson Mandela. Despite irritations and the noise, they can never betray the ideal of social justice and the promise of a better life for our people,” said Ramaphosa.
These include the American government and the National Lotteries Commission.
“Empilisweni is also a proud achievement of our national and provincial Departments of Health, Social Development, and Public Works. The mobilisation of resources and support from our various partners will impact positively to this community.”
Ramaphosa delivered the following quote by Mandela: “The children must, at last, play in the open veld, no longer tortured by the pangs of hunger or ravaged by the diseases or threatened with the scourge of ignorance, molestation, and abuse, and no longer required to engage in deeds whose gravity exceeds the demands of their tender years.”
“It is in our hands to attain this ideal for the vulnerable children of our land,” Ramaohosa said in closing.