SPEECH BY THE CITY’S EXECUTIVE MAYOR, PATRICIA DE LILLE
The following speech was delivered by City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, at the unveiling of Philip Kgosana Drive today, following a Council resolution earlier this year to rename De Waal drive after the struggle leader.
It really is an honour for me to be here with all of you today to celebrate a gentle giant, Philip Kgosana, who would have celebrated his 81st birthday today.
Philip spent some of his youth days in Langa and as a student at the University of Cape Town, he rose to prominence in politics here in Cape Town as the regional secretary of the Pan-Africanist Congress. For these reasons, he is very much a son of Cape Town.
He was a humble man, a servant of this country who sacrificed a lot in his life for what he believed in: the liberation of the people of South Africa from an oppressive apartheid regime.Philip Kgosana was more than just a freedom fighter. He was a human rights activist and after being forced into exile he continued his studies.
He went on to work for the United Nations Children’s Fund and worked with refugees, where he earned international commendation for his two decades of dedicated service.
This is a man who at the tender age of 23 led 30 000 men, many of them older than him, on a march against unjust apartheid government pass laws.
That march from Langa to the Cape Town central police station passed through this very road we’re standing on at the moment. This was a turning point in the history of our country.
It is therefore fitting that today we are here to honour Philip and his great sacrifice for the liberation of this country by naming De Waal Drive after him.
On that fateful day in March of 1960, Philip Kgosana showed his mantle as a young man and steadfast leader when he chose peaceful engagement in the face of a tense situation.
To quote former Cape Times editor Tony Heard who is with us today: ‘If it were not for the exemplary leadership in the interests of peace shown by Kgosana, and the prescient and conciliatory attitude of Colonel (Ignatius) Terblanche, I believe police shooting would have broken out, with incalculable consequences for Cape Town and all South Africa’.
It is for this reason that Tony Heard believed Kgosana should be honoured for his role in avoiding bloodshed on that day. Tony made the submission to the City to rename De Waal Drive.
That is why after a public participation process, Council accepted the Naming Committee’s recommendation to change De Waal Drive to Philip Kgosana Drive.
Our goal as the City of Cape Town administration is to build a city where all can feel a deep sense of belonging.
To achieve this, the City of Cape Town understands that it will have to work in partnership and consultation with residents because our decisions affect them.
If you go around the city, in different parts, you will see examples of this inclusive naming process. We have named roads after Helen Suzman, Robert Sobukwe, Professor Jakes Gerwel and Tata Nelson Mandela.
This is to recognise the role that they played in bringing us to where we are today. This is part of our intention to transform public spaces and to remind people who go there of where we come from as a nation.
As a caring city, we know that government needs to respond to the needs of its residents. We also understand that the beauty and strength of this city lies in the diversity of its people.
We must therefore acknowledge and celebrate the many people who contributed to the development of our country.
Renaming is a critical part of redress, as it allows us to remember our past and honour the heroes who made great sacrifices and laid the foundation to help us build a new future that fosters reconciliation.
Please join me in celebrating Philip Kgosana, an unsung hero of our country by honouring his legacy and contribution to the great city and our country.