This month of July we have heard everyone talking about - “Take Action - Inspire Change - Make Every Day a Mandela Day” as part of the 67 Minutes Campaign. People from all walks of life, of all races and creeds around the world pay tribute to a great statesman, humanitarian and leader every year on 18 July by making a difference in their communities, confronting social ills, and building a better world.This man, the late and great Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, has inspired millions. He is famous for his compassion, discipline and for fighting for what he believes in. For many he is a symbol of the highest point that the human mind and spirit can reach.But before our beloved Tata Madiba became a star for the world, he was a young boy born in the village of Mvezo and who attended school in Qunu village in rural Eastern Cape Province, just like each and every one of you here today.His story is also your story. His foundation in a rural upbringing is the same as yours. He faced many of the joys and challenges that you face today.Like Tata Madiba, the St Patrick’s Secondary School where we are gathered today, is a shining example that the circumstances of your life do not need to dictate your future. St Patricks school, here in the rural Eastern Cape, has a proud track record of matric pass rates. 96% in 2012; 98% in 2013 and 100% in 2014. This can be compared with, and is even better than, many of the schools in big cities who have far better access to resources.
They face the same challenges that all rural schools in the Province and the country face. And yet, they have been able to triumph over their difficulties and create the space for a better future. I think that the principal, teachers and learners of St Patrick’s deserve a warm round of applause for this amazing achievement!
These respective successes of Nelson Mandela, as well as St Patricks School did not come easy. For Nelson Mandela this required a firm belief that indeed one person can bring about change. It also took great personal sacrifice and 27 years in prison for his beliefs. On 10 May 1994, his passion and dedication was rewarded when he became the first democratically elected President of South Africa. And his dream for his beloved country began to become a reality.For St. Patricks School it is the energy, devotion and determination of the principal and teaching staff, the input of parents and the hard work of pupils that have made them one of the country’s best performing schools.From humble beginnings, the most inspirational success stories can be born.Today, I would like to encourage the learners, church leaders and community members here to never give up on their hopes, dreams and beliefs. You too can follow in the footsteps of Madiba. Your school and community can flourish and achieve great results, just like St. Patricks has done. Whatever you put your mind, your focus and your energy into can become a reality.Nelson Mandela’s vision for a better world has become a clarion call not only for our government, especially this year when we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, but also for people all around the world. In recognising Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity and protection of human rights, equality, and freedom, the United Nations General Assembly declared 18 July "Nelson Mandela International Day” in November 2009. When he was celebrating his 90th birthday in 2008, Tata Madiba told us as his fellow South Africans: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in our hands now”.The freedom that he and all his comrades fought for is now ours. But with that freedom comes a great responsibility to carry on his legacy to make our country even greater than it already is.There are still many improvements that we can and must make as a country so that all our people share equally in growth and prosperity. As a government elected by the people of South Africa, we are working on many fronts to achieve this. But we cannot achieve success alone. We need the inputs of citizens, communities and industry.
Mandela Day and the 67 Minutes Campaign reminds us to continue to extend ourselves in working towards a dream and vision for a better life for all and it begins with each one of us making any type of contribution in our own environment that we can.This is our belief in Ubuntu. You don’t talk Ubuntu, you live Ubuntu! I salute each and every one of you for your contribution to making this an even better South Africa. We have come a long way and still have a long way to go to rebuild this country. But if we extend an open hand to our neighbour, we will make Tata Madiba proud. Remember a closed or fisted hand cannot give or receive anything. We need tolerance and patience. You are gone Tata, but you live in our hearts forever. Your legacy inspires us that anything is possible. Make every day a Mandela Day as we, together, Move South Africa Forward!I thank you