n Akroterion - A new generation of American - J F Kennedy [Presidential Inaugural, 20th January 1961] : CASA translation

Volume 58, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0303-1896
  • E-ISSN: 2079-2883
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This speech by John F Kennedy was made in a very different nation and time from our own. Nevertheless, many of his calls resonate today, both in the increasingly inter-connected world, and here, in South Africa: the call for unity, and not domination; the emphasis on liberty and the fight against 'tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself' - four evils terribly present in our wider African community, as well as our own. Reading this speech here, today, demonstrates that Kennedy was right to say that 'All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet'. The final call, of 'Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country' is one that needs to be heard in South Africa today - where we are faced with such enormous challenges in education, health and economics that often the response of the nation to this feeling of helplessness is an attack on our government, which so often has failed to provide. Indeed, such attacks are regularly justified. But the call found in this speech is to recognise the role that we play in the struggle against these immense difficulties, and to take responsibility for our own country. This is why this speech was chosen.

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