By Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

17 August 2021

Let us, today, commit once more and continuously to create the numberless ripples of hope we need to build the South Africa we want to see.”

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

My name is Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. I am addressing you on this sad milestone in the history of our country: an opportune time to say to the families of those who died at Marikana nine years ago:

  • we are praying for repose of the souls of your loved ones;
  • we send profound sympathy; and
  • we pray that your loved ones will rest in peace and rise in glory.

We will hold a mirror to ourselves as we reflect on them. We will continue to be courageous and show our outrage at what has happened so that this does not happen again. We will seek opportunities and practical steps like we do with the Marikana Renewal project to close that gap. And we will advocate for policies that seek respect for the workers and the people in society who struggle to find their voices.

As I say, Marikana was a day that changed South Africa. It lifted a mirror to the country that allowed this to happen, to reflect on itself. I am glad that we have asked Dr Mamphela Ramphele, my parishioner, who is courageous and bold, to be the keynote speaker on this day.

Last year, I opened by saying, “I speak to you during a difficult time in South Africa”. Well, today I speak to you during an even more difficult time: we will continue to find struggles wherever we look, and it can be difficult to find moments of hope. The 16th of August 2012 was a day that changed South Africa. The events that took place at the Koppie at Marikana lifted a mirror to the country. It asked all of us as a country, who we are, how we allowed an atrocity of the scale of Marikana. How did it happen? Why were we unable to speak to each other to find common cause, so that this tragedy would not have been the only outcome?

Let us not mince our words; the faults lay everywhere. The blood of our fallen colleagues sacrificed in a battle of ideology is a terrible legacy

of Marikana. It is a legacy that, as a country we have forgotten and which we have not built from. We have allowed our country to continue to use the kindling, the poorest and most vulnerable lying everywhere we look, ready to spark. That is why the days and commemorations like today are so important, so critical to remind ourselves of what happens when we do not come together, when we do not reflect honestly on ourselves and build together, when we do not create moments of hope.

In Cape Town in 1966, Robert Kennedy gave his famous affirmation address. I want to focus on one part of it, and I quote, “It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

That is the key phrase I want you to think about. Ripple of hope. Let us, today, commit once more and continuously to create the numerous ripples of hope we need to build the South Africa we want to see. A South Africa where all people live with dignity in peace, and are able to flourish. A South Africa where our differences are spoken about, where we address our challenges together. Building side by side rather than facing each other in conflict. A South Africa where our collective spirits and focus allows each person to travel their own path but towards a common good.

The time now for us is to look across from where we sit, at our neighbour, at our friend and at our enemy. To reach out and to begin to heal together, to begin the slow and sometimes difficult process of finding closure. To recognise each other, each other’s pain and help each other to salve that pain.

I would like to use this moment to ask you to reach across the chasms that separate us to begin to create ripples of hope for a South Africa for all people. Find partners, find them near and far, find people you agree with and importantly, those you disagree with. I am calling on all parties to genuinely want to be part of the healing and building of South Africa. The time has come to build a future for all of us that is tangible, that is for a common good. A collective future, where not one single person suffers in the way that has led to these great tragedies. We can remember the past, but now we have to build the future. Let us be active in our diverse courage.

Let us stand up for our ideals. Let us create our ripples of hope. Let us turn the kindling of our people into the mighty trees that we can be.

I thank you. God bless you and may the souls of the faithfully departed who died in Marikana rest in peace and rise in glory.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba
17 August 2021