Ministers, Deputy Ministers,
Members of the Diplomatic corps,
Friends of South Africa and India,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are very happy that our first State visit to Asia is undertaken to the Republic of India.
This is befitting given the very deep historical, cultural, economic, family and political ties between our two countries and two peoples.
We are also happy that on the even of the official start of the State Visit, we are able to celebrate with all our friends in India, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in South Africa.
We mark this important historical event on the eve of a great milestone back home.
In approximately a week's time, the whole world will turn its focus to South Africa for the 2010Fifa World Cup spectacular.
I say spectacular because we have thoroughly turned all stones to make Africa proud in our delivery of the best Fifa World Cup edition ever hosted, the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
A few months down the line, from September 10to 26, we will host a major sporting event, the Champions League which features the top 20/20 cricket sides. We, again, want to host this tournament with great success.
A month from then we will send a very competitive team to represent us at the Commonwealth Games that will be held in Delhi from October 3 to 14th.
We will send our team with one message and one message only, when the medals are counted South Africa should be the team with the highest medal count.
However, a most important date, ladies and gentlemen, is November 16th, 2010. This will, when traced back to November 16th, 1860, mark 150 years of the arrival of Indians in South Africa.
Accordingly, South Africa will celebrate 150 years of the arrival of Indians in the beautiful shores of our country, South Africa.
When we celebrate the 150 years of the arrival of Indians in South Africa we do so fully conscious of the value that our compatriots of Indian descent add to the diversity and unique character of our beloved country, South Africa.
In those 150 years, we have seen Indians who were brought to the country as slaves in the sugar plantations toil their way out of the dehumanizing and demeaning garments of slavery, to excellence in different fields.
These have impacted positively in South Africa's development programmes.
This long, hazardous yet worthy journey has unleashed many heroes and heroins who have left an indelible mark in the collective memory of the nation, also at a political level.
Many outstanding freedom fighters of Indian ancestry in our country continue to inspire us because of their bravery and commitment.
Like many of us, these giants of the struggle for justice and peace were inspired by the giant extraordinary, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
By now you know that South Africa boasts that India gave us Gandhi, and we gave them back a Mahatma.
We truly are proud that the United Nations eventually recognised his birth date, 2nd October, as International Peace Day. Gandhi earned this global recognition.
When we cite names of prominent Indian South Africans, the tendency is to focus only on those who are politically inclined.
As we celebrate the 150th anniversary this year, we will also celebrate the achievements and contribution in the fields such as sports, commerce, cricket, legal, social cohesion and others.
We know that you will be part of us as we celebrate a moment in the history of our country that changed its character.
Thank you for this wonderful occasion and celebration on the eve of the official start of our State visit!
I Thank You!
Enquiries: Vincent Magwenya at 0727150024.