12 November 2009
South African President Jacob Zuma was named Best African President at the 2009 Africa Consciousness Media Leadership Awards, which honour those who have contributed to the liberation and development of the continent.
Speaking at the awards ceremony in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Zuma urged African leaders to keep the promises they had made to their people.
“We have pledged to our people that we will strive for the eradication of poverty, disease and conflict. We have pledged to promote trade, investment, economic growth, skills development and stability on the continent.”
Zuma called on African leaders to use partnership agreements as instruments to advance the cause of the continent.
He was referring to pacts such as African Peer Review Mechanism, established to promote good governance in Africa, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), which aims to foster economic integration and development.
“If we deviate or if we falter, we expect all of you – ordinary citizens, civil society, academics and the media – to sound the warning bells,” Zuma said. “Good leaders heed these warnings and respond constructively. They do not consider themselves to be above their people.”
Zuma was not the only South African recipient of an award. The late Afro-pop legend Miriam Makeba was given the Great Daughter of Africa award for using music to address the challenges faced by Africans during the colonial era.
The Pata-Pata songbird, who was exiled for years after she was banned by the apartheid government, travelled the world not only performing her songs but also sending the message to the world about Africans’ challenges.
The late First Lady of Nigeria, Stella Obasanjo, was named Best African First Lady of the Year.
Zuma said the awards served as a reminder that nothing could be achieved without the confidence, trust and support of fellow Africans.
Leadership ‘about service and sacrifice’
“A true leader is guided by the needs and the collective wisdom of his or her people. These awards should therefore not be about status or prestige. They should be about service and sacrifice. Let us work together to ensure that they achieve these goals.”
African statesman and former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda also attended Tuesday’s event. He wished South Africa all the best in hosting a successful footall World Cup in 2010.
He said it was Africa’s turn to show the world what she was capable of, adding that he was confident that the tournament would be a turning point for Africa’s economic and tourism development.
Kaunda urged African leaders to emulate the likes of Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kanyata, Oliver Tambo and Kwame Nkrumah, who fought tirelessly for the liberation and development of the continent.