South African President Cyril Ramaphosa shocked South Africans during his 2023 State Of the Nation Address when he began his opening remarks by tearing apart the “I Am an African” speech that was made by Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the African National Congress in Cape Town on 8 May 1996, on the occasion of the passing of the new Constitution of South Africa.
Mbeki’s speech, which has become an epitome of the expression of being a proud African had the following lines:
I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land. I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom.
However, on Thursday 9 February 2023, Ramaphosa took to the podium to address the nation on the electricity crisis bedeviling the country and started by the following words which sparked outrage on social media among the followers of Mbeki:
It is a great honour to stand before you this evening to present the State of the Nation.
For we are a nation defined not by the oceans and rivers that form the boundaries of our land.
We are not defined by the minerals under our earth or the spectacular landscape above it. We are not even defined by the languages we speak or the songs we sing or the work we do.
We are, at our most essential, a nation defined by hope and resilience.
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