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Speech of High Commissioner Ruchira Kamboj at the University of the Western Cape on 13 March 2018

Posted on : 16-03-2018 | Back | Print

In meeting you here today I seek to connect South Africa and India. I dare to believe that the Vice Chancellor and Rector will have me here again!

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, 

My theme today will be centred around breaking stereotypes. Breaking standards set by society and questioning the limits placed upon people. 

Accompanying me today are six young women from India who stand out because their journey is truly idiosyncratic. They are circumnavigating the globe on a 17 metre sailboat, and considering that there are more attempts to climb Mount Everest every year than to circumnavigate, what they have achieved is truly special. 

Drawn from diverse backgrounds and not particularly born to sailing, these women took up this daunting task despite a myriad of reasons to turn back. In fact, one of the sailors is from a land locked state and had never seen sea water before she joined the Indian Navy.

And as they set sail on 14 March from the Mother City of Cape Town to the Mother Country of India they will on completing their circumnavigation, shatter several records.

I don’t doubt that I do not stand alone when I congratulate these women on not only daring towards greatness, or making their country proud, but I congratulate these women on breaking the notion that such an accomplishment only belongs to the few. 

But of course, every story must act as a mirror. A mirror you can gaze into, which says ‘look, look at what you can do. Look at the power of have. And look at what you never thought could be, become.’ 

Everyone of you in here is young and courageous, standing at the cusp of a new life. And I think now more than ever, it’s imperative to stress that you are the people who should be questioning the norms. Asking ‘why’ and inevitably becoming the person you were meant to be. 

Some of the greatest changes were made possible because someone, in a lecture hall just like this one, started to think. And doubt. And realise. And act. And change.

Today in the 21st century, our world today stands on edge. We see conflicts tearing societies apart and humanitarian tragedies breaking families. We are alive at a time where chaos brims and everyday, chilling statistics of tragedy climb higher and higher. So, of course our societies remain at risk.  

Societies will not be sustainable until women of all backgrounds are given equal rights. Until all ethnic and minority groups are liberated, and till we establish an equal base for everyone to rise.  

Now, more than ever, we are in need of action. In need of bold thinking and fresh ideas. And I see no better place for the conception of greatness than within a University. 

Our Tarini women tell us that while you may have to move many obstacles on your journey to make a difference, when you arrive at your destination, you stand stronger for the effort.  

Good luck, make us proud, and thank you all!



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