'In our hearts you will live forever': Zuma

By Drum Digital
15 December 2013

President Jacob Zuma said government and the country will take former President Nelson Mandela’s legacy forward.

Speaking at Mandela’s funeral in Qunu on Sunday, Zuma also thanked the Mandela family for their perseverance over the years when the world icon spent 27 years in jail after he was jailed by the apartheid government, and said Mandela’s rise to power was due to a strong support system by all his family members.

Paying tribute to Mandela, Zuma said it was important for him and the rest of the country to take his vision forward – a vision for a better society that values education, health, job creation and eliminating poverty.

“As your journey today, ours must continue. One thing we can assure you today, as you take your final steps, is that South Africa will continue to rise.

“Your revolutionary spirit will not rest within us,” he said. “We plan to take your vision forward of better schools, universities, quality housing … decent jobs and as well as an efficient and accountable public service.”

After retiring from his Presidency, Mandela showed that he had a soft spot for children everywhere he went, and went on to launch the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

In a packed Marquee on Sunday – filled with VVIP dignitaries, including current and former heads of states, royal families and high profile celebrities – Zuma said Mandela’s love for children would be carried forward.

“South African children must grow up in a country that is not only politically free, but it should also be free from violence, free and safe from crime, free and safe from poverty, ignorance and disease.”

He said by doing all this, South Africa should be able to transform the country’s economy and ensure a better life for all.

In his tribute, Zuma also thanked Mandela for his sacrifice in the fight against apartheid in what led to South Africa giving birth to democracy in 1994, following his 27-year imprisonment.

He thanked the Mandela family for giving birth to a “great” but “humble” man, and said the country will forever be indebted to the family -- from Mandela’s first wife Evelyn, who is now late, to struggle veteran and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela -Mandela’s resistance against apartheid and for keeping Mandela’s name alive when he was in prison.

He also thanked his wife Graca Machel for the support she showed to Mandela during his final moments, and thanked the medical team that looked after him when he fell critically ill.

Describing Mandela as a “fountain of wisdom; pillar of strength and a beacon of hope”, Zuma said Mandela taught the country to live together, regardless of race, and also said his qualities would live on forever.

“You have been brought to this planet by a man so great, and yet so humble.

“Today marks an end of an extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago.

“Whilst your long walk to freedom in a physical sense, our own journey continues. We have to take your legacy forward,” Zuma said.

“We will not say goodbye. In our hearts, you will continue to live forever.”

The funeral was also attended by some of the cast members of Mandela’s recent movie, “Long Walk To Freedom”, including Idris Elba, who played Mandela, who has been nominated for a prestigious award for his leading role in the film.

Amongst other Hollywood actors who were at the funeral included Oprah Winfrey and Forrest Whitaker.

–SANews.gov.za

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