Duchess Meghan receives huge cheers as she makes passionate speech in Cape Town

By Sarah Walker

Duchess Meghan receives huge cheers as she makes passionate speech in Cape Town

The Duchess of Sussex has started her tour of South Africa on a powerful note by giving an impassioned speech to teenagers in the township of Nyanga in Cape Town.

Shortly after arriving in the country alongside Prince Harry and four-month-old Archie, the 38-year-old made her way to Nyanga Methodist Church in the township, which is one of the city’s largest black settlements, to learn about life for South Africans.

She was greeted by school children supported by the charity Justice Desk. The foundation runs several empowerment programs that teach young girls self-defence and seeks to support children in the area. The organization’s motto is “wathint’abafazi wathint’imbokodo,” which means, “when you strike a woman, you strike a rock” in Xhosa.

Harry and Meghan were keen to speak with some of the girls and young women who Justice Desk has helped. Photo: © Courtney Africa/AFP/Getty Images

“The rights of women and girls is something that is very close to my heart, and the cause I have spent the majority of my life advocating for because I know that when women are empowered, the entire community flourishes,” Meghan said at the beginning of her speech.

“I read a quote a few weeks ago and it resonated with me as I’ve been watching what’s been happening here and your efforts. Maya Angelou, the legendary poet and civil rights activist, once said, ‘Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it, possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women.’”

Prior to their speeches, the Duke and Duchess were shown the organization’s facilities and were told about its work, which includes boxing classes for young women. They then spent time chatting with those who had been accessing Justice Desk’s services.

Harry and Meghan had a great start to their tour! Photo: © Courtney Africa/AFP/Getty Images

“We have just spent some time seeing all the incredible work that the Justice Desk does and, of course, all of you amazing women and men who are here helping you, Mbokodo, you are incredible and what you’re doing is so powerful, because you're all powerful,” she continued. “The work that’s being done here is to keep women and children safer, which is needed now more than ever. This is an issue that’s been at the forefront of people’s minds here in South Africa, and of course across the globe, particularly over this past month.”

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The duchess then got passionate about her role advocating for the rights of women.

“May I just say that while I am here with my husband as a member of the Royal Family, I want you to know that I am here as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of colour and as your sister. I am here with you and I am here for you and I thank you so much for showing my husband and I the spirit of Ubuntu and I look forward to our time over the next few days together.”

Harry echoed his wife’s sentiments.

“Thank you very much for the warm welcome today,” he said. “It was incredibly important for my wife and I to begin our trip here in Nyanga with you, so thank you for having us. As someone who has visited this amazing country many times, and as someone who regards Cape Town as a uniquely special place in Africa, I wanted to ensure that our first visit as a family, with my wife by my side, focused on the significant challenges facing millions of South Africans while acknowledging the hope that we feel so strongly here.”

He seconded a statement by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying, “No man is born to cause harm to women. This is a learned behaviour, and a cycle that needs to be broken.” Earlier this month, South Africa’s leader made a speech in parliament in which he said the country’s women were “under seige.” Harry also encouraged young men to change the way they look at their own masculinity and redefine it.

Meghan is expected to continue to advocate for the rights of women and girls while she and Harry are in South Africa. The couple will spend three days in Cape Town before the duke heads to solo trips to Botswana, Angola and Malawi. He will return to South Africa for engagements with Meghan on Oct. 2, when the tour will wrap up with a visit to Nelson Mandela’s widow Graça Machel.

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