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Di Smith's Deep Commitment to South Africa

It was no accident that Di Smith launched her inspirational book, You're Awesome - Living a Fulfilled Life during Women's Month in South Africa. This 52 chapter workbook is a practical hands-on guide for all people, regardless of the age, status, race or creed to change their lives and those around them.

Centered on the principle of Ubuntu, these 52 life lessons are not only points of thought and meditation, but practical issues of discussion and action within families and communities. Di Smith made the following speech at her launch at Books & Books in Durban North on 11 August:

May these women of South Africa inspire you as you start your journey to a “free” South Africa. I will be with you every step of the way

This was the inscription my husband wrote in the book called The Women’s Freedom March of 1956 which he gave me for Christmas in 2006. At this time, many people we knew were thinking of leaving South Africa because they were becoming increasingly disillusioned with the high levels of crime, corruption and fraud that were growing rampant in our society. I looked on in dismay as a culture of greed and dishonestly began to develop in South Africa.

I’ve read about the leaders who fought for a democratic and free South Africa and who gave up their freedom and in many cases their lives to realise the dream of a just and fair society in our country. I’ve read about the unsung heroines who came before us in the Women’s Freedom March of 1956. On the 9th August 1956 women from all colours, cultures and backgrounds came out into the streets to make a bold statement against an unjust system so that South Africa could one day become a better country to live in. I deeply believed, and still do, that the integrity, morals and truth that sustained these women burns brightly within the majority of our people in South Africa today. I stand firm in this belief.

My Deep Commitment to South Africa

It is my deep commitment to South Africa and the people of our country that has resulted in the writing of my book. I did not realise as I began writing the opening paragraph of my book that it would be a journey that would take me over two and a half years to complete.

I was asked “How does it feel to have had your first book published?” I can only sum it up in the following words - “It is as difficult as the marathons I have run and as demanding as when I paddled the Duzi Canoe Marathon. The difference is that when I came to the end of those events I knew I had crossed the finishing line but having now published a book, I find myself once again at the start.

The start begins with a new journey to reach out to those who want to improve their own lives and influence the lives of others around them through the messages in my book.

Professor Jonathan Jansen

Derryn and I were privileged enough to spend some time with Prof Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, at the Franschoek Literary Festival this year. He mentioned to us that if you wake in the middle of the night with a young man at your bedside with a gun or a knife in his hand, you should know that this person is there because he has fallen through the social net. He has been let down by not having the support of family, community or a good education to enable him to make an honest living where he can hold up his head with dignity.

If we as South Africans want to build a future for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren in this country then we should be doing all in your power to develop skills and good education for our people. We need to close the gap between the rich and the poor and give those who have little, the dignity to earn their own living and support themselves and their dependants. So I ask each of you to reflect on the following questions - “How badly do you want to see change? How badly do you want to live in a country with a good future?” If your answer to these two questions is yes then become involved. Help create a great future for South Africa by building up a strong civil society and allowing your voice to be heard.

My own love affair with South Africa has prompted the writing of my book called You’re Awesome – Living a Fulfilled Life. I dream that within its pages the calling to greatness will awaken in each one of us. I dream that through this awakening we will walk together into a great future by creating the country and ultimately the continent that we have it in us to become.

It will be then and only then that I would feel that I have crossed the finishing line.