Dear Zandisile,

Congratulations on the significant achievement of reaching 60 years of age.

Your life has been one marked by the extraordinary commitment to service, from your days in exile to your commitment to teaching and learning. The matter of education and political education, by extension, is a basic right and cause close to your heart and mine.

Given their annualised nature, birthdays offer moments for reflection on the passage of time and how we have chosen to live out our ideals. As you look back, I hope that it gives you cause to celebrate the role that you have played in the attainment of our democracy and enrichment of this country’s minds. The edification of our society remains a challenge that requires that a new generation rises to its demands – as you have done throughout the course of your life.

As a teacher at the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO), the ANC (African National Congress) School for South African refugees, you exemplified a life dedicated to scholarship and the practise of a critical pedagogy in service of the highest ideals of human ethics and morality.

For we know, as Former President Nelson Mandela once said, that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Please accept my sincerest apology that I could not be with you to celebrate tonight. I send my warmest wishes, and the hopes that you will see many more.

Kgalema Motlanthe

Former President of South Africa