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South Africa: SA Committed to Nation Building
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Thursday, August 28, 2014
Focus: Citizen Engagement
Country: South Africa
Created: Aug 28, 2014

“The reinterment of [Private Beleza Myengwa] is testimony to our commitment to rehabilitate our military history and to promote nation building and reconciliation,” said Deputy President Ramaphosa on Saturday.

The Deputy President was speaking at the reinterment ceremony of Private Myengwa, who was one of the first South Africans and a member of the African Native Labour Corps to die during World War 1.

The reinterment is held in a year that marks both the centenary of the start of the First World War and the 20th anniversary of the attainment of democracy in South Africa.
The ceremony was held in France on Saturday.

The Deputy President described the day as a historic one, where a free South Africa was taking an important step in redressing the imbalances of the past.

“We are here to mark the constitutional injunction that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and that all enjoy equal rights and protection before the law. Private Myengwa represents the more than 90 000 members of the South African Native Labour Corps, who volunteered to serve in the First World War, despite the humiliation and discrimination to which they were subjected daily.

“Gallant African volunteers were reduced to mere labourers. Even in death they were buried in separate cemeteries. With this reinterment, not only do we bring together black and white comrades-in-arms to rest peacefully in one cemetery, but we also lay to rest the myth of racial superiority that has been the cause of so much suffering,” said Deputy President Ramaphosa.

“With the reinterment of Private Myengwa here at Delville Wood, we confirm the contribution of all South Africans during the world wars - from the watery grave of the more than 600 heroes of the SS Mendi, to Normandy, to the Somme, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, the Middle East and Africa. So little is known of their deeds, bravery, suffering and sacrifice in the service of humanity.”

He said that through Private Myengwa, all members of the South African Native Labour Corps and the First South African Infantry Brigade were now at peace, with their dignity having being restored and their humiliation erased.

“Now we will relate their story,” he said.
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