God has listened to Madiba’s well wishers – Machel

2013-04-05 10:42

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Human rights activist and former first lady Graça Machel has thanked South Africans for their well wishes for ailing statesman Nelson Mandela.

Speaking after receiving the Gulen Peace Award from the Turquoise Harmony Institute last night, Machel said: “I also want to say thank you very much to all of you for your thoughts on Madiba. You are holding him high and God has listened.”

Earlier, City Press photojournalist Muntu Vilakazi overheard Machel telling Turkish businessman Ali Katircioglu at their table at the gala dinner that she would not be attending the event if Mandela was not doing well.

The 94-year old former president is at an undisclosed hospital recovering from another bout of pneumonia.

Machel arrived at the event late as she had gone to visit him in hospital, and left early as she had to go back to him.

Machel said the award was not about recognising herself as an individual,but about her “journey” and the people who had touched her life since she was the post-independence Mozambican minister of education.

She said she had shared joy and pain with children and mothers who are caught in conflict, and was also dedicated to the women who had been abused and killed by their partners.

“Let me bring it home today. Many people refer to me as an activist. Activist simply means raising your voice. To raise your voice for those who, in many circumstances, wouldn’t have a podium like the one I have here; for many who wouldn’t have an opportunity to speak to those who hold power; for many who would not have the opportunity to claim their humanity, and say: ‘I do count.’”

She said the first reaction an adult should have towards a child is to care for and protect him or her. “When it’s not one, but hundreds and thousands of adults who abuse children, it is time for us to ask: ‘What happened to us?’”

She said her being recognised with the award meant more responsibility.

Delivering a lecture earlier, Economic Development Deputy Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize spoke about her reaction when she heard that Mandela had been readmitted to hospital.

“Knowing him, if he had been able to address the nation, he would have said: ‘It is only my enemies who can pray for me to continue living when I am struggling to breathe.’

“We should uphold him and his family, especially his dearest wife, Madam umama Graça Machel, in our prayers,” Mkhize said.

Teaching children values was the function of every adult caregiver, Mkhize said, and education was “a critical building block” for instilling values.

Other recipients of this year’s awards include academic Jonathan Jansen, Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy and the SA National Editors’ Forum.

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