Reconciliation Day 2019 Statement – U.S. Ambassador-designate Lana Marks:
Since it was established in 1995, the Day of Reconciliation has marked a time when South Africans gather and reflect upon their shared, complicated history. This day is meant to help South Africans reconcile their truths and experiences, in order to appreciate and celebrate the many rich cultural traditions that make up a wonderfully diverse, unified, and strong South Africa.
In Cape Town, to commemorate the Day of Reconciliation, I visited the Iziko Slave Lodge, a museum that reminds us of the terrible injustices and tragedies that form part of our common histories — both here in South Africa, and in the United States. It reminds us of the perilous journey across the high seas that slaves were forced to endure, of the thousands of people who did not survive these journeys, and of the back-breaking work that awaited them.
Today, I was deeply moved when I saw pieces of the Sao Jose slave shipwreck. On this ship, over 200 men, women, and children perished, and 300 more survivors were re-captured and brought to this very building, to be imprisoned until they were auctioned off once more. I am humbled and grateful that the U.S. government, through the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, was able to partner with South Africa to support the restoration and preservation of these tremendously important artefacts of our shared historical consciousness.
Today is a day to reconcile this history with the present, and to look forward towards our shared future. For truly, only by reconciling the past with the present can we hope to avoid repeating these injustices in the future. Let us stand steadfast together on the road ahead.
WATCH THE VIDEO STATEMENT: HERE