Madiba honoured at birthplace
President Cyril Ramaphosa and his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, put their political differences aside when they visited Mvezo in the Eastern Cape to honour what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.
Ramaphosa and Zuma used Wednesday’s centenary celebrations to reinforce that the iconic statesman had never “sold out” anyone but had paved the way for a democratic South Africa and brought in political freedom.
“He [Mandela] never had it in him to sell [out] anything. What he created was a platform to continue with the struggle – he enabled the future,” Ramaphosa said.
Zuma said Mandela had fought for the country, made sacrifices and been the longestserving political prisoner.
“What people are doing is to take the failure to take South Africa forward and blame it on the man who brought political freedom,” he said.“If we failed to use it to bring economic freedom and security, let us not blame Madiba. Let us blame ourselves.”
Among those who attended the celebrations at the village near Mthatha where Mandela was born were former Kenya prime minister Raila Odinga, former president Kgalema Motlanthe and former Malian president Moussa Traoré.
Ramaphosa said Mandela had belonged to a remarkable generation that rose up against injustices and played a pivotal role in establishing the ANC Youth League. He had never seen himself as the wisest man in the country and had always been open to sound advice.
His greatest attribute had been his ability to reach out and unite poor people and he would have been concerned by the re-emergence of racism in South Africa and Africa.
“There is no place for racism, there is no place for tribalism in this country.
“There is no place for ethnic chauvinism in this place of Nelson Mandela,” Ramaphosa said.
He said Mandela would want those at the event to root out sexism to enable women to play their role in society.
“His life was driven by principle – not slogans or words.”Another former president, FW de Klerk, who could not make it to Mvezo but sent a video message, described Mandela as a worthy political foe who would become a friend.
“He had a wonderful sense of grasping the moment. He was a worthy opponent,” De Klerk said.
The last apartheid-government president described Mandela, who died in 2013, as a man of integrity whose dedication to transformation should serve as an example to all.
Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla, the chief of Mvezo, said Madiba would be pleased that people had gathered not only to celebrate him, but also late ANC stalwart Albertina Sisulu, who would have, in October, also turned 100.
The Mvezo event was organised by the Royal House of Mandela‚ in partnership with the Universal Peace Federation and the Eastern Cape government. – Scores of people from every corner of the country stepped out to celebrate what would have been former president Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday in a way they hoped would have put a twinkle in the statesman’s eye – by giving to those less fortunate.