Mr David Frigstad, Chairman of Frost & Sullivan;
Mr Brian Denker, Vice President & Global Head of Growth, Innovation and Leadership;
Their colleagues: Members of the board, executive and staff:
Ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for recognizing the virtues of our achievements in setting South Africa on a new course, and for conferring this award on me in my capacity as a participant, among many, in what was really a glorious struggle for good.
What we collectively accomplished in South Africa (and I include our friends abroad in this collective) was to demonstrate that in instances where people have a common purpose to achieve a righteous objective they are doing what God would do and can perform miracles.
What we proved is that people have the power to overcome their most pernicious problems when they work together to achieve their goals.
We have the power to settle the Israel-Palestine crisis; we have the power to ensure that poor people in the south are not left out (again) in the new north-led race for minerals and energy resources; we have the power to slow down global warming and prevent the destruction of our earth.
Sadly, though, human beings have in too many instances sacrificed the power of the collective at the altars of personal greed, acquisitiveness and consumptiveness.
In too many instances we have lost touch with the reality that human beings are the ultimate social beings, members of one family, God’s family, who are made for one another and totally dependent on each other for our collective wellbeing.
Our inability to place the welfare of the family above the interests of individual members leads to consequences such as killer drones over Yemen, renewed violence in Myanmar, the continued destruction of precious natural resources in Central and South America, and Africa, and economic meltdown in parts of Europe.
Is it any wonder that there is tension in the South African mining industry? Sure, in the old days all mine owners and bosses were white, while today some of them are black. But what has not changed is that workers continue to travel hundreds of kilometers from their homes and families to live and work in abysmal conditions, as they did under apartheid.
Instead of the “haves” agreeing to share some of their spoils with the “have-nots” we perpetuate inequality. What we are in effect saying is that some of the children are deserving of more pocket money than others – and we expect those who end up with less to continue to grin and bear it. It is a recipe for disaster; yet this recipe pretty much sums up the prevailing economic system on earth.
When we look back at what we achieved in South Africa in the 1990s, when we cast apartheid aside and installed our extraordinary Nelson Mandela as President, we can but marvel at the power within us to achieve the unachievable.
When I meet children and young adults I often tell them to reach for the stars – and I mean it, literally. There is no ceiling.
What shackles us is our inability to conceive of all the people in the world as similar to us, regardless of such irrelevant criteria as the colour of their skins – or the size of their noses, for that matter. We have similar needs and (particularly, now, in the media saturated world we inhabit) similar aspirations.
All we need do to create a better world is to imagine it, and to work to create it – together.
Thank you very much.
God bless you!