19 July 2010
President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans to draw on the lessons of the life of former president Nelson Mandela and use this to better the lives of other people.
Speaking at Mandela’s birthday celebrations in the Eastern Cape on Sunday, Zuma paid homage to a “true humanitarian” and called on fellow South Africans to take a leaf out of the 92-year-old Mandela’s book.
One of the lessons Zuma outlined was the need for South Africans to continue working together to build the nation that Mandela envisaged.
“The patriotism and unity that prevailed during the 2010 Fifa World Cup demonstrated to the world that this nation has a great future,” Zuma said.
“We came very close if we did not fully achieve your dream, Tata, of one nation united in its diversity, celebrating its achievements and working together,” Zuma said.
The “Madiba legacy” also encouraged African unity and solidarity, Zuma said, urging South Africans to continue in the spirit of African unity, love and friendship they had shown during the World Cup when they embraced African teams and their fans.
“South Africa is an integral part of the African continent. Our future is intertwined with that of the African continent. Our government and people must, and will continue to work for the renewal and development of the continent,” he said.
The President also encouraged South Africans to emulate Mandela by working hard to help people who are in need.
Singling out Mandela’s vigorous charity work, even after he had retired from office, Zuma called on the government and citizens to follow suit by working together to speed up change in the country.
Zuma urged South Africans to share Mandela’s concern for children by making a commitment to ensure that every child had an education and that the country was safer and a more loving place for them in live in.
“Let us also join forces to make education a real apex priority for this nation. All our goals will be achieved in the long-term if we invest in education with all human and material resources.”
Zuma called on South Africans to support the 1Goal Education for All Campaign by informing authorities about children in their neighbourhoods who were not attending school.
The President said Mandela’s birthday was a wonderful occasion that united the world and South Africa in celebrating the life of a selfless leader
“The 67 years of active contribution to a better South Africa has been recognised by the United Nations and is being celebrated as Mandela Day for the first time this year. We thank the world for never ceasing to recognise the successes of this nation.”
Zuma also acknowledged those who had taken 67 minutes to do something positive for the country, the poor or the vulnerable.
He paid tribute to the role Mandela played when he became president of the country in 1994. “Tata helped us to internalise that we are one nation, united in our diversity. He taught us to overcome hatred and embrace reconciliation.”
Mandela had provided direction and laid down a solid legacy for all South Africans. “In honour of President Nelson Mandela, our actions going forward, should speak louder than any words of praise we may seek for ourselves.”
Zuma wished Mandela a happy birthday on behalf of the whole of South Africa, thanking the former President for the supreme sacrifice he had made in his quest for freedom and justice.
As part of the celebrations in the Eastern Cape, the President officially opened the Mvezo Multi-purpose Centre and revealed that renovations to the Mvevo Junior Secondary School were nearing completion.
Celebrations for the Mandela’s birthday are expected to continue this week with members of Parliament and the Eastern Cape Provincial government visiting schools, embarking on environmental awareness campaign and an anti-child trafficking seminar; fencing of Heritage sites; and renovating the Mvezo dipping tank.