Kerry Kennedy‚ daughter of Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) and president of RFK Human Rights‚ is in South Africa to commemorate her father’s historic visit to the country in 1966.
Kerry‚ who is in the country until Saturday‚ is participating in a series of events arranged by U.S. Embassy‚ Pretoria and the U.S. Consulates General in Johannesburg‚ Durban‚ and Cape Town.
She is joined by representatives from the Kennedy family‚ RFK Human Rights‚ the Faith and Justice Institute‚ and a delegation from the U.S. Congress‚ led by Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE).
Speaking at the opening event for the series‚ a panel presentation hosted by Wits University on Monday‚ entitled “Ripples of Hope: Robert F. Kennedy’s Historic 1966 Visit to South Africa – Its Significance Then and Now‚” Kerry said‚ “My father came to South Africa in 1966 to listen and to learn. We are here today‚ 50 years later‚ to listen and learn also”.
“We look forward to learning the lessons South Africa has for our country and for the rest of the world. It’s hard to think of a country that has endured more pain and suffering than South Africa‚ but as a human rights activist‚ I have tremendous optimism about the present and the future.”
She said South Africa is in an unique position at the moment‚ as the greatest challenge across the world is hate and there is no country on Earth better known for overcoming hate than South Africa.
Former president Kgalema Mothlanthe was also at the event.
He said RFK had made a passionate call to action that was “very important at that time” and it was important to understand history because it provided context.
When RFK came to visit South Africa‚ he met with Chief Albert Luthuli.
Commemorative events will continue throughout the week across the country.
The delegation will travel to KwaZulu-Natal‚ where they will visit the Luthuli museum and attend a public screening of the documentary “RFK in the Land of Apartheid: A Ripple of Hope”.
In Gauteng‚ they will participate at a roundtable discussion at Liliesleaf Farm with senior anti-apartheid struggle veterans‚ before traveling to Cape Town for a keynote address by Kerry Kennedy at the University of Cape Town.
RFK served as a Senator for New York from 1965 until his assassination in 1968.