Honoured Guests, Comrades
It is a most humbling moment to be here for the opening of the new exhibits including that dedicated to the London Recruits a number of whom are here today:-
Bob Allen who as London District Secretary of the Young Communist League recruited members to come here and carry out propaganda actions for MK.
Tom Bell, who with his brother Ron came to Cape Town in 1970 to let off leaflet bombs and Stuart Round, who as a lad of 19 drove that monster truck over there back and forth from Zambia carrying tons of weapons along with many unsuspecting safari tourists over several years in the 80s and 90s.
I came to Joburg in 1971 with my comrade Pete Smith to let off leaflet bombs and returned in 1972 with Alex Moumbaris as part of the reception party for the ship Aventura which was bringing MK fighters down the coast from Somalia to Durban, the first major attempt to re infiltrate trained combatants back into South Africa.
The Aventura was crewed by a group of British Seamen. In January this year a plaque paying tribute to their contribution was unveiled in Liverpool.
Liliesleaf, which was such an important place for the development of MK and the armed struggle to overthrow apartheid, continues to play a key role in maintaining an ongoing understanding of the history of that struggle.
It is particularly fitting to me that we are here in the 60th Anniversary year of the Freedom Charter. Govan Mbeki said that the Charter provided a moral compass for the Liberation Movement.
It was also an inspiration to me and many of my comrades in the worldwide struggle against apartheid.
As London Recruits, we were especially privileged to have been given the opportunity to make our small contribution to the liberation of South Africa. This we saw as part of our internationalist duty and a natural extension of our Anti Apartheid activity.
It was an extraordinary experience. Most of us were young working class men and women. Many of us had never been abroad before, had never been on a plane and never even stayed in a hotel. We then came to this unbelievable place called apartheid South Africa.
No amount of political understanding or briefing could prepare us for the shock of such a transition.
We had no idea at the time what a low point it was for the ANC and MK and what a crucial role we had been selected to play.
This really only came home to us when we revisited South Africa three years ago for the launch of our book "London Recruits the Secret War Against Apartheid".
We came here to Lilisleaf and began to understand the devastation of the leadership and structures of MK. We met many outstanding Struggle Veterans who had undergone the most awful treatment on Robben Island and elsewhere, who thanked us for our contribution. We pay tribute to them for their sacrifices which were far greater than ours.
It's true that some of us, Alex Moumbaris and Sean Hosey were captured, tortured and imprisoned but overall our sacrifice was nothing compared to that of the people of South Africa.
For most of us; cautioned not to talk about what we had done by Ronnie Kasrils, our recruiter and Commander in Chief; this part of our life was locked away in some hidden compartment for the best part of 40 years.
The emotion which came with its reawakening was tremendous and has never gone away.
I will finish by saying thank you to Ronnie Kasrils for recruiting us all those years ago, to Nic Wolpe for the new exhibit dedicated to our contribution but also for sustaining the amazing place which continues to be Liliesleaf - "A Place of Liberation".
Above all I want to say thank you to the people of South Africa for the opportunity to play our small part in your struggle and to wish you every success in the many difficult battles over the coming years to ensure that the gains of your victory are shared by all the people as envisaged in the Freedom Charter.