Thursday 16 August 2012

Hillary Clinton at the University of the Western Cape

Introduction to the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, before her public speech on 'The United States - South Africa Partnership: Going Global' at the University of the Western Cape, on 8 August 2012

Secretary of State, Your Excellencies, Honourable Guests, Members of the University of the Western Cape community, Ladies and Gentlemen, friends, it is my great honour, and greater pleasure, to welcome you here, on behalf of the Rector of UWC, Prof Brian O’Connell – who cannot be with us today – and on behalf of the whole UWC family: faculty, learners, alumni, and all who work or study here.

Secretary of State, we are delighted to have you with us, and that you have come to a place of learning in order to give this public speech. As Nelson Mandela – with whom, Madam Secretary, you have just been visiting – has said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’

What he did not address then – but has communicated so eloquently through the example of his life – was the question of how we should use this powerful weapon to change the world. When I was inaugurated as Chancellor, earlier this year, I spoke of how true wisdom lies in harnessing the power of learning in the service of liberation and emancipation. Promoting good governance in all its forms is intrinsic to this – and, I understand, is equally high on the agenda of your visit to our continent and country.

Though the language has changed over the years, this sentiment has a pedigree that goes back to the first President of the United States, George Washington himself, who said: ‘A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?’

We, who are such a young democratic republic, know well the importance – and the challenge – of providing education that fosters such liberties and offers a context where all may flourish. I am glad to say that here we also agree, with your Embassy spokesperson describing your other goals as ‘to strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, advance peace and security, as well as promote opportunity and development for all citizens’.

Yet here we must be careful.

Prosperity of the few at the expense of the many, or economic growth for its own sake, regardless of its impact on planet and people, are unsustainable, and in the long term only serve to undermine peace and stability. Secretary of State, the power of education – indeed, all power (and we know that the US is not short of this!) – must be directed to ensuring that liberty and justice always go hand in hand, if we are to safeguard the weakest, and preserve our world.

Another former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, hit the nail on the head when he said ‘To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.’ Such wise words. It is fitting to recall them in a University whose motto is ‘Respice Prospice’ – which means ‘Learn from the past; look to the future.’

So Madam Secretary – I invite you now to speak to us of your vision for our future. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to introduce the Secretary of State of the United States of America, the Honourable Hillary Rodham Clinton...

Note: Hillary Clinton's speech is available at