US President Obama’s inaugural speech 21 January 2013

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: 

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.  They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. 

For more than two hundred years, we have. 

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together. 

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. 

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people. 

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.   My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together. 

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. 

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.  But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.  That is what this moment requires.  That is what will give real meaning to our creed.  

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. 

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.  But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.  America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.  We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice. 

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. 

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. 

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time. 

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.  We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
 
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride. 

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope. 

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. 

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. 

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright.  With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom. 

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.

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Africa’s Worst Tragedy: Economic Disorientation – A Case of South Sudan! When I look at Africa

This is a speech by Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, commonly referred to as Prof. PLO Lumumba, a Kenyan national currently the Director of The Kenya School of Law. 

Africa’s Worst Tragedy: Economic Disorientation – A Case of South Sudan! When I look at Africa,

Many times, I ask myself, “What would happen if Mwalimu were to rise up and see what is happening?”

Many times, I would ask myself, “What would happen if Kwame Nkruma and Patrice Lomumba were to rise up and see what is happening?”

Because what they would be confronted with is an Africa where the Democratic Republic of Congo is unsettled. There is a war going on there. But is not on the front pages of our newspapers, because we don’t even control our newspapers and the media. As I speak to you, the Central African Republic is at war. But we talk of it only mutedly. As I speak to you now, in South Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa, the Nuers have risen against the Dinka. As I speak to you now, Eritrea is unsettled. As I speak to you now, there is unease in Egypt and there is unease in Libya, in Niger it is no better, in Senegal in the Casamance. In Somalia, is no better. Africa is at war with herself. This is what they would be confronted with.

They would be confronted with an Africa which statisticians and romantic economists said it is growing but which in truth is stagnated. That is the Africa they would be confronted with.

They would be confronted with an Africa, which Prof Mulama intimated in her presentation here is an Africa, which is suffering from Schizophrenia. It does not know herself. They would be confronted with an Africa whose young men and women have no interest and no love for their continent.

They would be confronted with an Africa where a young man and young woman are constantly humiliated at the embassies of European countries and at the United States of America as they seek the almighty green card.

They would be confronted with an Africa where young men and women from Niger, Nigeria Senegal, Mali and Mauritania drown in the Mediterranean as they seek to be enslaved in Europe. This time around, Africans are not wailing and kicking as they are being taken away to be enslaved. They are being seen wailing and kicking as they seek to be enslaved in Europe and America.

This is the tragedy of Africa. They would be confronted with an Africa where people have lost their self-pride. An Africa where Africans are not proud of their things.

An Africa where in the hotels of Dar es Salaam or Nairobi, even food has foreign names. When we fry potatoes, we call them French fries even when they are fried in Dar es Salaam. That is the Africa that they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with another Africa , an Africa that does not tell her histories. An Africa whose story is told by Europe and America – the CNN, Radio deutsche welle, radio France. That is the Africa they would be confronted with.

They would be confronted with young men and women who have no pride in Africa. When they want to enjoy themselves, they sing the praises of football teams from Europe and America – it is Manchester United; it is Arsenal; it is Real Madrid and Barcelona!

Not Yanga, not Mvulira Wanderers, not GorMaiah, not FC Leopards. Nooo. That is an Africa they would be confronted with.
They would be confronted with an Africa which does not enjoy its theatres and dramas. An Africa that celebrates Leorando DiCaprio

It Celebrates AnelinaJoli and Brad Pitt. An Africa that does not celebrate Genevieve Naiji of Nigeria, or Isa Dominic or Olou Jacobs of Nigeria.

It does not celebrate Bongowood, or Nollywood, or Riverwood. It celebrates Hollywood. That is the Africa with which they would be confronted. They would be confronted with African women whose greatest source of joy is cheap great been Mexican bean soap opera – la Fatrona, la merdamivena, the de rich de la cray.

Why must we remind ourselves of these realities? Because throughout out the ages, the battle has been always the battle of the mind. And if your mind is conquered, then you are going nowhere. And that is why in the ages of enlightenment, the great Rene Descartes said “Kijitohigo sum’ – I think therefore I am;

And therefore if Africans are to begin to make a contribution in their affairs, Africans must begin to think. But the question is: are we thinking?

We have universities in their numbers. Tanzania has universities including Dar es Salamm. Nairobi has universities as indeed Kampala as indeed South Africa, Johannesburg.

We have all these universities.

We have engineers. But our roads are not being made by Tanzanian civil engineers. It is the Chinese who are present in this assembly who are making our roads. So we have engineers who cannot even make roads. We have doctors whom we have trained. But when we are sick, particularly if we are of the political class, depending on who colonized you – if you are colonized by the United Kingdom, you rush to London. If the French colonizes you, you rush to Paris, if you are colonized by the Portuguese, you rush to Lisbon and if you are colonized by Spaniard, you rush to Madrid, Spain.

And recently because the Asians are beginning to get their act together, we run to India. And very lately because the Arabs are also beginning to get their act together, we run to Dubai; not withstanding that we have the Kenyattas hospitals of this country, the Mwimbilis of Tanzania, the Kiris-Honeys-Baragwonats of South Africa, and the Mama Yemos of Kinshasa in Zaire or Democratic Republic of the Congo. But we have no faith in our doctors. In the area of education, we also don’t have faith.
Our political class introduced something that they call free education.

But it is free indeed, free of knowledge.

Because they are so suspicious of those institutions, the typical African politician would not dare take their children to those schools.

Their children will be educated in the British System, in the America system so that when they graduate they go to the united kingdom, to the united states; not that there is anything wrong with those institutions but their agenda is wrong because our leaders long lost the script and often describe for whom they are, our misleaders.

But we are co-authors of our own misfortunes.

Whenever we are given an opportunity to elect our leaders, we are given a blank cheque. And if you permit me a little latitude, and if you give me a blanket cheque and you allow me to analogise and you say that I am given the blanket cheque to buy a Mercedes Benz, what we do is that when we are called upon having been so empowered, we buy what one calls a ‘tutktuk’ from India and expect it to behave like a Mercedes Benz!

How does that happen? Because what we do is to elect thieves; we elect hyenas to take care of goats; and when the goats are consumed, we wonder “why?

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@_Cosatu Media release 27 February 2008

COSATU Media Release, 27 February 2008

Willie Madisha

The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the

Congress of South African Trade Unions has

received the report of the Commission of Enquiry

into allegations involving the COSATU President,

Willy Madisha. The CEC decided to release the copy

of the report publicly in the light of the

misrepresentation by some in the media and

unauthorised sources in the Federation which all

combined to misinform the public about the real

facts behind the establishment of the commission

and its terms of reference. [We attach the full

report of the commission.]

The CEC has accepted the Commission’s findings

and recommendations. The CEC unanimously

resolved to remove Willy Madisha as President of

COSATU in terms of Clause 9.6.1.3 of the COSATU

constitution. An Acting President will be elected at

next CEC in May 2008.

COSATU will hold a press conference on this

matter today at 15:00 at the COSATU Head office

in Braamfontein.

REMINDER: The media are also invited to a press

conference to receive a report of the CEC meeting

on the political, socio economic and other issues

dealt by the CEC. The details are:

DATE: Thursday 28 February 2008

TIME: 11h00

VENUE: COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, cnr

Biccard, Braamfontein

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)

Congress of South African Trade Unions

1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets

Braamfontein, 2017

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South Africa’s 2013 full budget speech (pdf format)

See: 2013 budget speech

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2013 State of the Nation Address by Jacob G Zuma, President of South Africa

Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly,
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces;
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP;
Deputy President of the Republic, Honourable Kgalema Motlanthe;
Former President Thabo Mbeki and Mrs Mbeki,
Former President De Klerk and Mrs De Klerk,
Former Deputy Presidents Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Baleka Mbete,
Honourable Chief Justice of the Republic, and all esteemed members of the Judiciary;
Honourable Peeroo, Chairperson of the SADC Parliamentary Forum,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Distinguished Premiers and Speakers of our Provinces;
Chairperson of SALGA, and all local government leadership;
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders;
The Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions;
The Governor of the Reserve Bank; Ms Gill Marcus,
The Deputy Chairperson of the National Planning Commission and Deputy President of the ANC, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and all ANC Officials,
Leaders from business, sports, traditional, religious and all sectors,
Members of the diplomatic corps, Special and distinguished guests,
Honourable members,
Fellow South Africans,
 
Good evening to you all, sanibonani nonke, molweni, dumelang.
 
Let me thank the Presiding Officers for affording me this opportunity to share our 2013 programme of action with the joint sitting of Parliament.
 
We greet all who are watching this broadcast from their homes and at GCIS viewing centres around the country, including those in Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Gugulethu here in Cape Town.
 
Let me also extend my gratitude to all who contributed to the preparation of this address.  I received several messages via email, twitter and Facebook.
 
I also spent some time with Grade 12 learners who shared their own views on what should be contained in the speech. I found the inputs very informative and enriching.
 
Honourable Members,
Compatriots and friends,
 
On the 15th of August last year, the National Planning Commission handed over the National Development Plan, the vision of the country for the next 20 years, to the President in this august house.
 
The NDP contains proposals for tackling the problems of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
 
It is a roadmap to a South Africa where all will have water, electricity, sanitation, jobs, housing, public transport, adequate nutrition, education, social protection, quality healthcare, recreation and a clean environment.
 
The achievement of these goals has proven to be difficult in the recent past, due the global economic recession.
 
The crisis in the Eurozone affects our economy as the Eurozone is our major trading partner, accounting for around 21 per cent of our exports.
 
Our GDP growth is expected to average at 2.5% cent, down from 3.1% in the previous year.  We need growth rates in excess of five per cent to create more jobs.
 
The National Development Plan outlines interventions that can put the economy on a better footing. The target for job creation is set at 11 million by 2030 and the economy needs to grow threefold to create the desired jobs.
 
In my last meeting with the business community, the sector indicated that for the economy to grow three-fold, we must remove certain obstacles.
 
We will engage business, labour and other social partners in pursuit of solutions. No single force acting individually can achieve the objectives we have set for ourselves.
 
Honourable Members,
 
I would now like to report on progress made since the last State of the Nation Address and also to discuss our programme of action for 2013.
 
I will look at the five priorities – education, health, the fight against crime, creating decent work as well as rural development and land reform.
 
Last year, I addressed the nation on government’s infrastructure plans. 
 
By the end of March this year, starting from 2009, government will have spent about 860 billion rand on infrastructure. Various projects are being implemented around the country. I will discuss just a few.
 
The construction of the first phase of the Mokolo and Crocodile River Water Augmentation has commenced and it will provide part of the water required for the Matimba and the Medupi power stations.
 
The construction of the bulk water distribution system for the De Hoop Dam began in October 2012, to supply water to the Greater Sekhukhune, Waterberg and Capricorn district municipalities.
 
We have to shift the transportation of coal from road to rail in Mpumalanga, in order to protect the provincial roads. Thus the construction of the Majuba Rail coal line will begin soon.
 
We have also committed to improve the movement of goods and economic integration through a Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor.
 
In this regard, substantial work is now underway to develop the City Deep inland terminal in Gauteng.
 
Initial work has commenced in the expansion of the Pier 2 in the Durban Port.
 
And thirdly, land has been purchased for the development of a new dug-out port at the Old Durban airport.
 
In the Eastern Cape, I officially opened the port of Ngqura and construction is now underway to develop a major new transhipment hub.
 
The Umzimvubu Dam is critical for rural livelihoods. Preparatory work has commenced for the construction to begin next year.
 
The upgrading of Mthatha airport runway and terminal and the construction of the Nkosi Dalibhunga Mandela Legacy Road and Bridge are currently underway.
 
I have asked for work in the North West to be fast-tracked further in light of the huge backlogs in that province, especially electricity, schools, clinics, roads and water in the next two years.
 
To improve the transportation of iron-ore and open up the west coast of the country, we have expanded the rail capacity through the delivery of 11 locomotives.
 
The first phase of the expansion – to increase iron ore port capacity at Saldanha to 60 million tons per annum – was officially completed in September last year.
 
Construction work is taking place in five cities – Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, Rustenburg, eThekwini, Tshwane to integrate the different modes of transport – bus, taxi and train.
 
In the energy sector, we have now laid 675 kilometres of electricity transmission lines to connect fast-growing economic centres and also to bring power to rural areas.
 
In addition, government signed contracts to the value of R47 billion in the renewable energy programme. 
 
This involves 28 projects in wind, solar and small hydro technologies, to be developed in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and in the Free State.
 
We established an 800 million rand national green fund last year.  To date, over 400 million rand investments in green economy projects has already been approved for municipalities, other organs of state, community organisations and the private sector across all provinces.
 
We have also rolled out 315 000 solar water geysers as of January this year, most of which were given to poor households, many of whom had never had running hot water before.
 
We have scored successes in extending basic services through the infrastructure programme. Close to 200 000 households have been connected to the national electricity grid in 2012.
 
You will also recall that Census 2011 outlined the successes in extending basic services. The report said the number of households with access to electricity is now at 12.1 million, which translates to 85%. Nine out of 10 households have access to water.
 
To prepare for the advanced economy we need to develop, we will expand the broadband network.
 
Last year, the private and public sector laid about 7000 new fibre optic cables. The plan is to achieve 100% broadband internet penetration by 2020.
 
With regard to social infrastructure, a total of 98 new schools will have been built by the end of March, of which more than 40 are in the Eastern Cape that are replacing mud schools.
 
Construction is expected to begin in September at the sites of two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.
 
Last week, we published an Infrastructure Development Bill for public comment.
 
We are cracking down on corruption, tender fraud and price fixing in the infrastructure programme.
 
The state has collected a substantial dossier of information on improper conduct by large construction companies.
 
This is now the subject of formal processes of the competition commission and other law enforcement authorities.
 
The infrastructure development programme has been a valuable source of learning for government. In the year ahead, we will fast-track many of the projects that the PICC has announced.
 
The lessons are that we must coordinate, integrate and focus on implementation.
 
Honourable Members,
 
The past two years have demonstrated that where the state intervenes strongly and consistently, it can turn around key industries that face external or internal threats as has happened in our manufacturing sector.
 
We have seen the revitalization of train and bus production in South Africa, largely because of the drive for local procurement. 
 
PRASA and Transnet have committed hundreds of billions of rands to improving our commuter and freight train network.
 
The clothing, textiles and footwear industry has stabilised after 15 years of steadily falling employment. A clothing support scheme provides broad financial support, saving a number of factories and jobs.
 
On broader economic transformation, revised Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act and codes are being finalised.  The development of black owned enterprises and black industrialists will be prioritised.
 
Government has several programmes of supporting small business.  A key project for the Presidency currently is to get government departments to pay SMMEs within 30 days.
 
Departments are required to submit monthly reports so that we can monitor progress in this regard.
 
We have taken a decision that accounting officers who fail to execute this directive, should face consequences.
 
In the 2010 State of the Nation Address, I announced the Job fund, and three billion rand has been approved for projects that will create jobs.
 
Honourable Members,
 
Just over a third of the population is under the age of 15. Our country, like many others, has a crisis of youth unemployment.
 
Last May I asked constituencies at NEDLAC to discuss youth employment incentives. I am pleased that discussions have been concluded and that agreement has been reached on key principles. The parties will sign the Accord later this month.
 
The incentives will add to what Government is already doing to empower the youth.
 
State owned companies provide apprenticeships and learnerships and we urge that these be increased.  We appeal to the private sector to absorb 11 000 FET graduates who are awaiting placements.
 
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform runs the National Rural Youth Services Corps, which has enrolled 11 740 young people in various training programmes.
 
The Department is also planning nine Rural Youth Hubs per province, including in the 23 poorest districts in the country.
 
We will also use the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Work programme to absorb young people.
 
Working together we will find a solution to youth unemployment.
 
Honourable members,
 
We identified tourism as one of our job drivers.
 
Tourist arrivals grew at an impressive 10.7 percent between January and September 2012, which is higher than the global average of 4% for last year.
 
Ironically, the very success of South Africa’s national conservation effort resulting in over 73% of the worlds’ rhino population being conserved here, has resulted in our country being targeted by international poaching syndicates.
 
We are working with recipient and transit countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and China and are intensifying our efforts to combat this increasing scourge.
 
Honourable Speaker
Honourable Chairperson,
 
Mining, which is historically the backbone of the economy, has faced difficulties in recent months.
 
Last year the sector was hit by wild cat strikes and the tragedy in Marikana where more than 44 people were killed.
 
We established an Inter-Ministerial Committee made up of senior cabinet Ministers to assist families during that difficult period. The Judicial Commission of Inquiry led by Judge Ian Farlam continues its work.
 
Through working together we were able to restore social stability in the area.
 
Government, labour in the form of COSATU, NACTU and FEDUSA, Business Unity SA, Black Business Council and the community sector met in October and reached an agreement which laid the basis for a return to work across the mining industry.
 
In particular, we agreed to work together to strengthen collective bargaining; to address the housing problems in the mining towns; to support the National infrastructure Programme; to address youth unemployment; and to identify measures to reduce inequalities.
 
Work is underway and the team will report in due course with specific plans for Rustenburg, Lephalale, Emalahleni, West Rand, Welkom, Klerksdorp, Burgersfort/Steelport, Carletonville and Madibeng.
 
Two weeks ago, I had a meeting in Pretoria with Sir John Parker, the chairman of Anglo-American Plc to discuss the reported plans to restructure and retrench 14 000 workers at Anglo American Platinum.
 
Compatriots,
 
Honourable Members,
 
We believe that at a policy level we have managed to bring about certainty in the mining sector. The nationalisation debate was laid to rest in December at the ruling party’s national conference.
 
Ensuring that the public services we provide our people today can continue to be provided to our people tomorrow, requires that we have suitable tax policies to generate sufficient revenue to pay for these services.
 
From time to time, we have commissioned studies into our tax policies, to evaluate the extent to which they meet the requirements of the fiscus.
 
Later this year, the Minister of Finance will be commissioning a study of our current tax policies, to make sure that we have an appropriate revenue base to support public spending.
 
Part of this study, will evaluate the current mining royalties regime, with regard to its ability to suitably serve our people.
 
Honourable Members,
Distinguished guests,
 
In last year’s address we raised the issue of the gap market, the people who earn too much to qualify for an RDP house and too little for a bank mortgage bond.
 
From April 2012 to December 2012, Provincial Departments committed a budget of 126 million rand of the Human Settlements Development Grant for this programme, known as the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy programme.
 
The money is being used through the National Housing Finance Corporation, which has been appointed to deliver houses to people within the Gap market in twelve registered projects.
 
A total of 70 million rand of this amount has been used to date.
 
Projects include Walmer Link in the Eastern Cape, Lady Selbourne, Nelmapius, Bohlabela Borwa, Cosmo City and Fleurhof in Gauteng, Intabazwe Corridor Housing in the Free State and Seraleng in North West.
 
The implementation of these eight GAP housing projects is currently underway.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
Honourable Members,
 
On education, we are pleased that the Grade 12 pass rate is finally on an upward trend. We congratulate the Class of 2012, their teachers, parents and communities for the continued improvement.
 
We congratulate the top province for 2012, Gauteng and top grade 12 learner, Miss Madikgetho Komane, from Sekhukhune district, Limpopo, who is our special guest.
 
Honourable members,
 
The Annual National Assessments in our schools, have become a powerful tool of assessing the health of our education system.
 
We welcome the improvement each year in the ANA results, but more must be done to improve maths, science and technology.
 
The Department of Basic Education will establish a national task team to strengthen the implementation of the Mathematics, Science and Technology Strategy.
 
We urge the private sector to partner government through establishing, adopting or sponsoring maths and science academies or Saturday schools.
 
Compatriots,
 
We are pleased with the growth of our early childhood education programmes, including Grade R.
 
We are also pleased with our adult education programme, Khari Gude, which has reached more than 2,2 million people between 2008 and 2011.
 
We also continue to encourage people from all walks never to stop learning.  Many were inspired when accomplished musician and my special guest, Mr Sipho Hotstix Mabuse obtained his matric last year, at the age of 60.
 
Honourable Members,
 
We declared education as an apex priority in 2009. We want to see everyone in the country realising that education is an essential service for our nation.
 
By saying education is an essential service we are not taking away the Constitutional rights of teachers as workers such as the right to strike.
 
It means we want the education sector and society as a whole to take education more seriously than is happening currently.
 
All successful societies have one thing in common – they invested in education. Decent salaries and conditions of service will play an important role in attracting, motivating and retaining skilled teachers.
 
In this regard, we will establish a Presidential Remuneration Commission which will investigate the appropriateness of the remuneration and conditions of service provided by the State to all its employees.
 
I have directed that the first priority should be teachers.
 
The Commission will also assess the return on investment.
 
In elevating education to its rightful place, we want to see an improvement in the quality of learning and teaching and the management of schools. We want to see an improvement in attitudes, posture and outcomes.
 
Working with educators, parents, the community and various stakeholders, we will be able to turn our schools into centres of excellence.
 
Honourable Members,
 
Five years ago, South Africa had such a low life expectancy that experts suggested that by 2015, our life expectancy would have been exactly where it was in 1955.
 
It was with good reason that we were delighted when late last year, studies from the Medical Research Council, the Lancet medical journal and others began reporting a dramatic increase in life expectancy from an average baseline of 56 years in 2009 to 60 years in 2011. These reports also noted significant decreases in infant and under five mortality.
 
Increased life expectancy is a key to the country’s development. People are returning to work, they are being productive, economically and socially.  The family structure is increasingly stable and parents live longer and are able to take care of their children.
 
We should not become complacent, in light of these achievements.
 
Given the high co-infection rate between HIV and TB, we have integrated these services.
 
Work is also continuing on the research side. South Africa has discovered a candidate drug to treat Malaria.
 
In addition, researchers at the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa consortium, also discovered broad neutralising antibodies against HIV.
 
Deputy President Motlanthe has appointed new members of the South African National Aids Council Trust. We congratulate the team, which is led by retired Judge Zac Yacoob, as chairperson.
 
Diseases of lifestyle are on an alarming increase.  We have to combat and lower the levels of smoking, harmful effects of alcohol, poor diets and obesity.
 
Honourable members,
 
In 2014 we will create the National Health Insurance Fund. The Department of Health will accelerate and intensify progress in the pilot districts.
 
In that regard, as from April this year, the first group of approximately 600 private medical practitioners will be contracted to provide medical services at 533 clinics within villages and townships in 10 of the pilot districts.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
In June we will mark the centenary of the 1913 Land Act which turned black people into wanderers, labourers and pariahs in their own land.
 
Former ANC President Sefako Makgatho outlined as such in his 1919 ANC conference presidential address.
 
He said;
 
“The Native Land Act still operates as mercilessly in different parts of the Union, and as a result many native families are still working for white farmers only for their food’’.
 
We are also honoured, in this year of the anniversary of the 1913 Land Act, to have present among us, Mrs Nomhlangano Beauty Mkhize, one of the veterans who together with her husband, Saul Mkhize, led the struggle against forced removals in Driefontein and Daggaskraal, in the present Mpumalanga Province.
 
The land question is a highly emotive matter.
 
We need to resolve it amicably within the framework of the Constitution and the law.
 
I received a message on Facebook from Thulani Zondi who raised his concern about the slow pace of land redistribution. He said:  “Mr President, as we are commemorating 100 years since the Land act of 1913 was introduced to dispossess the African majority.
 
I urge you to accelerate redistribution of the land to the landless African people.
 
“When we do the redistribution we need to be mindful of food security. Training and mentorship of emerging black commercial farmers must take place”.
 
From 1994, we have been addressing the land reform problem through restitution, redistribution and tenure reform.
 
As stated before, we will not be able to meet our redistribution targets.
 
Government’s mid-term review last year revealed a number of shortcomings in our land reform implementation programme. We will use those lessons to improve implementation.
 
Firstly, we must shorten the time it takes to finalise a claim. In this regard, Government will now pursue the ‘just and equitable’ principle for compensation, as set out in the Constitution instead of the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, which forces the state to  pay more for land than the actual value.
 
Secondly there are proposed amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Act, 1994 in order to provide for the re-opening of the lodgement of restitution claims, by people who missed the deadline of 31 December 1998.
 
Also to be explored, are exceptions to the June 1913 cut-off date to accommodate claims by the descendants of the Khoi and San as well as heritage sites and historical landmarks.
 
Another key lesson is to provide adequate post-settlement support to new landowners so that land continues to be productive.
 
We also need to provide better incentives for commercial farmers that are willing and capable of mentoring smallholder farmers.
 
Another challenge we have faced is the preference for money instead of land by some claimants, which also does not help us to change land ownership patterns.
 
As part of the Presidency stakeholder engagement programme ahead of the State of the Nation Address, Deputy President Motlanthe held a meeting with both farmers and farm workers in Paarl on Tuesday.
 
Stakeholders agreed that there should be peace and stability in the agriculture sector and that the living and working conditions of farm workers should be improved urgently.
 
It is also encouraging that even the farmers called for the fast tracking of land reform and support to emerging farmers.
 
We will continue the engagement with both farmers and farm workers.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
We should also remain mindful of rapid urbanisation that is taking place. The Census Statistics reveal that 63% of the population are living in urban areas. This is likely to increase to over 70% by 2030.
 
Apartheid spatial patterns still persist in our towns and cities. Municipalities alone cannot deal with the challenges. We need a national approach. 
 
While rural development remains a priority of government, it is crucial that we also develop a national integrated urban development framework to assist municipalities to effectively manage rapid urbanisation.
 
As part of implementing the National Development Plan, all three spheres of government need to manage the new wave of urbanisation in ways that also contribute to rural development.
 
Honourable Members,
 
Improving the status of women remains a critical priority for this government.
 
The Bill on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment has been approved by Cabinet for public comment. The Bill criminalizes practices that have adverse effects on women and girls.
 
It also legislates the 50/50 policy position with regard to the representation of women in decision making structures.
 
Honourable members,
 
The brutal gang rape and murder of Anene Booysen and other women and girls in recent times has brought into sharp focus the need for unity in action to eradicate this scourge.
 
The brutality and cruelty meted out to defenceless women is unacceptable and has no place in our country. Last year the National Council on Gender Based Violence was established.
 
It comprises government, non-governmental Organizations, Community-Based Organizations, Faith-Based organizations, academia, research institutions, government, men’s groupings, and representation from women, children and persons with disabilities.
 
We urge this coordinating structure to make the campaign of fighting violence against women an everyday campaign.
 
We applaud all sectors for the campaigns that have taken place already, highlighting that such acts will not be tolerated.
 
I have directed law enforcement agencies to treat these cases with the utmost urgency and importance. The Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units, which were re-established in 2010, have increased personnel.
 
During the last financial year, the Units secured over 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73% for crimes against women above 18 years old and 70% for crimes against children under 18 years of age. 
 
Masibhunkule sisebenze sonke, silwe nalenkinga esibhekene nayo yabantu abadlwengula omame nezingane, ngisho nezalukazi imbala. Ihlazo nobunswelaboya obesabekayo lokhu abakwenzayo. Izigilamkhuba kufanele zibikwe emaphoyiseni ziboshwe.
 
Government is adding other mechanisms to protect women, such as the Protection from Harassment Bill. While the Domestic Violence Act also provides protection, it only applies to persons who are in a domestic relationship.
 
The Protection from Harassment Bill also deals with harassment by persons who stalk their victims by means of electronic communications.
 
In addition, the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill was passed by the National Assembly last year and is now at the National Council of Provinces.
 
Once implemented, the law will  assist women and children, who are often victims of this heinous crime.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
There is increased visibility of the police which contributes to the reduction in the levels of serious crime.
 
The operations focusing on illegal firearms, stolen and robbed vehicles, liquor and drugs which are regarded as main generators of crime have assisted in crime reduction.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
Government continues to wage a war against corruption.
 
The capacity of the Special Investigating Unit has grown from an initial 70 staff members to more than 600 at present.
 
I have since 2009, signed 34 proclamations directing the SIU to investigate allegations of corruption, fraud or maladministration in various government departments and state entities.
 
Criminal Investigations were initiated against 203 accused persons in 67 priority cases under investigation by the end September 2012.
 
In total, pre-trial proceedings have been initiated against 191 persons. A total of 66 persons under investigation are alleged to have received R5 million or more benefits through corruption. Freezing Orders were obtained against 46 persons.
 
In other successes, in the past financial year, 107 officials working within the criminal justice system were convicted.
 
The Asset Forfeiture Unit seized assets valued at more than R541 million. A total of R61 million of these assets have already been forfeited to the State. The assets are channelled back to fighting crime and corruption through the Criminal Asset Recovery Account.
 
Last year, additional funding of R150 million from the Criminal Assets Recovery Account was approved for the work of the Anti-Corruption Task Team which comprises the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority.
 
These resources are aimed at strengthening the capacity of these law enforcement agencies in our resolve to fight corruption.
 
We urge the private sector to also take this fight against corruption seriously so that we tackle it from all angles.
 
To further boost the fight against corruption, we will fill all vacant posts at the upper echelons of the criminal justice system.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
Honourable Members,
 
There are some lessons from Marikana and other incidents that we cannot allow to recur in our country.
 
Our Constitution is truly one of our greatest national achievements.   Everything that we do as a government is guided by our Constitution and its vision of the society we are building.
 
We call on all citizens to celebrate, promote and defend our Constitution.
 
Our Bill of Rights guarantees that “everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed,  to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions”.
 
We therefore call on our people to exercise their rights to protest in a peaceful and orderly manner.
 
It is unacceptable when people’s rights are violated by perpetrators of violent actions, such as actions that lead to injury and death of persons, damage to property and the destruction of valuable public infrastructure.
 
We are duty bound to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic. We will spare no effort in doing so.
 
For this reason, I have instructed the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to put measures in place, with immediate effect, to ensure that any incidents of violent protest are acted upon, investigated and prosecuted.
 
Courts will be allocated to deal with such cases on a prioritised roll. The law must be enforced and it must be seen to be enforced – fairly, effectively and expeditiously.
 
The citizens of our country have a right to expect that their democratic state will exercise its authority in defence of the Constitution that so many struggled so long and hard for. We cannot disappoint this expectation.
 
The JCPS Cluster has therefore put measures in place at national, provincial and local level to deal with such incidents effectively.
 
Let me hasten to add that government departments at all levels must work closely with communities and ensure that all concerns are attended to before they escalate.  That responsibility remains. We are a caring government.
 
Honourable Members,
 
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Organization of African Unity which has been succeeded by the African Union.
 
We pay tribute to the OAU for its relentless struggle for the decolonization of our continent, including contributing to our own freedom.
 
We will continue to work for a stronger and more effective organization of our Union.
 
The NEPAD programme as well as the African Peer Review Mechanism have just celebrated their tenth year of existence.
 
As the convener of the NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative, South Africa continues to work with other champions to implement high impact infrastructure projects in the continent.
 
On peace and security, we stand by the people of Mali in their effort to claim and assert the territorial integrity of their country.
 
We urge the leadership in the Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau and Somalia to continue their march towards lasting peace for the sake of their people. We remain firmly opposed to unconstitutional change of government.
 
We are encouraged by the developments between Sudan and South Sudan. We commend our former President Thabo Mbeki and other members of the AU High Level Panel for the dedicated manner in which they have been working with the two sides.
 
We are in solidarity with the DRC as the country battles the menace to its security.
 
South Africa will continue supporting Africa’s peace efforts including through mediation, troop contribution for peace keeping, and by providing material and financial assistance.
 
In this regard, we look forward to the conclusion of political dialogues in Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
 
Our vision of a better Africa in a better world will receive great impetus when we host the 5th BRICS Summit next month in Durban.
 
We are inspired by the exponential growth of bilateral relations, diplomatically and economically, between South Africa and other BRICS countries.
 
Strengthening North-South relations remains central to our foreign policy agenda.
 
We reaffirm our partnership with countries of the North, especially the USA, Europe and Japan.
 
The UN’s 70th anniversary provides an opportunity to take forward the transformation of the UN Security Council.
 
We shall continue to use the G20 to represent the aspirations of the people of Africa and push for the transformation of Bretton Woods institutions.
 
South Africa’s internationalism has a strong element of solidarity to it.  We stand with the people of Palestine as they strive to turn a new leaf in their struggle for their right to self-determination; hence we supported their bid for statehood.
 
The expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian territories is a serious stumbling block to the resolution of the conflict.
 
The right of self determination for the people of Western Sahara has to be realised.
 
We remain firm in our call for the lifting of the economic embargo against Cuba.
 
Working together we can do more to create a better Africa and a better world.
 
Compatriots,
 
In the year 2012, we focused on preserving and promoting our country’s cultural heritage with particular emphasis on our liberation heritage.
 
We also hosted a historic National Summit on Social Cohesion, focusing on building a socially inclusive, caring and proud nation.
 
In the implementation of our programme we will work with our Social Cohesion Advocates; eminent South Africans drawn from a variety of sectors within our society.
 
We are proud to have in our midst this evening, two of our eminent social cohesion advocates, Judge Yvonne Mokgoro and Advocate George Bizos.
 
Compatriots,
 
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Raid on Liliesleaf Farm, the Escape from Marshall Square as well as the Start of the Rivonia Trial.
 
A series of events are being planned throughout the year to mark the three events, culminating in a national commemoration on the 11th of July.
 
Honourable Members
 
We have just concluded a highly successful Africa Cup of Nations tournament. We extend hearty congratulations to the African champions, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and also to all participating teams for their contribution to showcasing the standard of African football.
 
We thank all our people for being excellent hosts and fans.
 
I had the opportunity to personally thank CAF President Honourable Issa Hayatou for affording us the honour of hosting the AFCON.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
As I said earlier, this programme of action will be implemented differently as the activities of departments must be aligned with the National Development Plan.
 
Compatriots,
 
Before concluding, let me take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of struggle stalwart and prominent human rights lawyer, Comrade Phyllis Naidoo who passed on today.
 
Only recently, we lost Comrade Amina Cachalia.
 
We are truly saddened by the loss.
 
Honourable Members,
 
Compatriots,
 
As South Africans, we should continue to have one primary goal – to make our country a truly great and prosperous nation.
 
Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!
 
I thank you.

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US President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech 2012

Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.

It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.

Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.

I want to thank every American who participated in this election… Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time.

By the way, we have to fix that.

Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone… Whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.

I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign.

We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honour and applaud tonight.

In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.

I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America’s happy warrior, the best vice-president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.

And I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s first lady. Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you’re growing up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I’m so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog’s probably enough.

To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics… The best. The best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning.

But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the life-long appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley.

You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you’ve done and all the incredible work that you put in.

I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else.

You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse whose working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.

That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.

That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers. A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow. We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this – this world has ever known.

But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being. We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag.

To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner. To the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president – that’s the future we hope for. That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go – forward. That’s where we need to go.

Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.

And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.

The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.

I am hopeful tonight because I’ve seen the spirit at work in America. I’ve seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbours, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job.

I’ve seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.

I’ve seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm.

(APPLAUSE)

And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter, whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care.

(APPLAUSE)

I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own.

And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That’s who we are. That’s the country I’m so proud to lead as your president.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And tonight, despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future.

(APPLAUSE)

I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight.

I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.

(APPLAUSE)

America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.

And together with your help and God’s grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.

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Fast facts about South African Sign Language

South African Sign Language (SASL) is a visual-gestural language using the hands, face, torso and space in front of the signer to express meaningful utterances. SASL is recognised in the South African Constitution (1996) as the “twelfth” language of South Africa, after the eleven official languages. Entering into the exciting world of the Deaf through South African Sign Language is an amazing experience, since one learns very soon that signs are not glorified gestures, and one can only marvel at the way in which SASL can be used to express even very abstract concepts.

The Deaf community consists of people who communicate in sign language, and is not restricted to the group of deaf people whose primary language is South African Sign Language. Children of Deaf adults (CODAs) and some hearing people also communicate in sign language (and often work as interpreters). It is wrong to assume that all deaf people communicate in sign language. This situation explains why, by convention, deaf (with a lower-case ‘d’) refers to the population who has a hearing disability whereas Deaf people (with a capital ‘D’) refers to the population who makes use of South African Sign Language and who identifies itself with Deaf culture.

More and more hearing South Africans are learning sign language to improve their relationships with the approximately 1.5 million South Africans who are Deaf or hard of hearing. SASL is the only language in South Africa that is understood by all communities, regardless of whether the signers are from Zulu or Afrikaans or English or Tswana-speaking backgrounds. Some of the signs may be different, but the language structure is the same – and it is a beautiful, expressive language.

Sign languages, however, are not universal – SASL (and other signed languages such as American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language) are not related to the spoken languages used in the community. In fact, American and French Sign Languages are closely related, whereas British Sign Language is pretty different from ASL!  

Learning SASL will expose you to a new cultural and linguistic community whilst at the same time helping you realise the importance of being able to communicate with and understand Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

Copied as fair use from www.witslanguageschool.com  

IS LIP-READING AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO COMMUNICATE WITH DEAF PEOPLE?

Not really. Forty to sixty percent of English sounds look alike when spoken. Thirty percent of what is said is actually discernable or visible on the lips, and the other seventy percent is guesswork. This sets up the perfect situation for miscommunication and misunderstanding.

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