DR MCUBE – THE INSPIRATION BEHIND POPULAR POEM
Dr Stephen Mncube holds a photo of Ms Jessie Duarte, his sister Ms Bernard Mncube, Ms Albertina Sisulu and Mr Oliver Tambo in London. The three women had met with Ms Magaret Thatcher during the fight against apartheid.
The moment former president Thabo Mbeki recited his ‘I am an African‘ poem will go down in history as one of the proudest for many citizens.
The poem formed part of the speech he made at his inauguration as the second democratically elected president of the country.
Not many would believe it, but Bedfordview resident Dr Stephen Mncube inspired the popular speech.
Some months before the former president, then deputy president, made the speech, Dr Mncube was given the task to introduce him before his speech at the launch of Khululekani, an initiative intended to bring parliament closer to the people.
Because the launch was held at the same place where the CODESA talks had taken place in Kempton Park, Dr Mncube said he saw it fit to give a poetic and special introduction.
Parts of the poem read, “Thabo your name is Africa, You went into exile and faced many trials and tribulations. In your quest for meaning in life you crossed rivers infested with crocodiles and snakes. But as your journey comes to the last mile you long to see once more the wrinkles of granny and drink waters from the calabash of life. And sit next to the cow fund fire. And listen to the stories of yesterday”.
He said he had no idea that his poem would inspire the former president to write his popular poem.
“In his acknowledgement, Mbeki told the audience that this was the first time he was ever introduced by a poem. Little did I know that soon after that he would use poetic expression in his inaugural speech as the president of our rainbow nation that had him reiterate that he is African,” said Dr Mncube.
Dr Mncube also had a hand in the writing of the late musical legend Ms Miriam Makeba’s last album.