Robert F. Kennedy (RFK)’s daughter, Kerry Kennedy has commended South Africans for their efforts in trashing out racism and other racial related activities from the country’s system.
Kerry who is also the president of RFK Human Rights‚ arrived South Africa to commemorate her father’s historic visit to the country in 1966. She participated in almost all the events organized by the U.S. Embassy‚ Pretoria and the U.S. Consulates General in Johannesburg‚ Durban‚ and Cape Town.
At one of the events- a panel presentation hosted by Wits University entitled “Ripples of Hope: Robert F. Kennedy’s Historic 1966 Visit to South Africa – Its Significance Then and Now‚”- Kerry said “My father came to South Africa in 1966 to listen and to learn. We are here today‚ 50 years later‚ to listen and learn also”.
“We look forward to learning the lessons South Africa has for our country and for the rest of the world. It’s hard to think of a country that has endured more pain and suffering than South Africa‚ but as a human rights activist‚ I have tremendous optimism about the present and the future,” she said while giving her opening speech at the university.
When RFK came to visit South Africa‚ he met with Chief Albert Luthuli. He served as a Senator for New York from 1965 until his assassination in 1965
Kerry Kennedy was joined by representatives from the Kennedy family‚ RFK Human Rights‚ the Faith and Justice Institute‚ and a delegation from the U.S. Congress‚ led by Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE). There, she said south Africa is faced with one of the world’s greatest challenges- racism- but that no other country could better deal with it aside south Africa.
Speaking further on this is the former president Kgalema Mothlanthe who commemorated RFK’s passionate call to action that was “very important at that time” and it was important to understand history because it provided context.
The series of events planned to occupy the whole week will have the delegation traveling to KwaZulu-Natal‚ where they will visit the Luthuli museum and attend a public screening of the documentary “RFK in the Land of Apartheid: A Ripple of Hope”.
The delegates will also participate at a roundtable discussion at Liliesleaf Farm Gauteng with senior anti-apartheid struggle veterans‚ before traveling to Cape Town for a keynote address by Kerry Kennedy at the University of Cape Town.
Fighting racism has always been one of the major issues the south African government is faced with. President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation Address, called on South Africans to commemorate this year’s Human Rights Day as a national day against racism and use it to “lay the foundation for a long-term programme of building a non-racial society’’.
The government has instituted a plan to monitor ongoing incidents of racism through the establishment of a rapid response team reporting directly to government as it tries to improve its social compact on nation-building, social cohesion and the eradication of racism.