Building a nation starts at home - Zuma

2015-12-23 21:11
President Jacob Zuma spends time with the elderly near Chatsworth. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

President Jacob Zuma spends time with the elderly near Chatsworth. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban – President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday emphasised the importance of family, saying building a nation began at home.

Zuma, who said he'd had a bout of flu, was addressing the elderly at a Christmas party organised by the Masiqhakaze Women’s Organisation at the Savannah Park Sports Grounds near Chatsworth.

“The elderly are a blessing in society," said Zuma. "My heart breaks when I hear that they are being called witches because they live long.”

He said when he was growing up, children used to lick the eye discharge from the eyes of the elderly. 

“We did that for luck but people will say, ‘What is this? Me?’”

He said charity began at home. “We live in a troubled society because we have too many broken homes,” he said, adding that families should raise their children to have respect.

“Children should be proud of where they come from and neighbours should protect and love one another. That is how you build a nation,” said Zuma.

Building the family name

He told the elderly that back in the day young men knew that by taking a good woman, they were building their family name.

“Before taking a wife, young men used to look at how women carried themselves. They looked at whether the woman had good morals and if she would be able to build a home...,” said Zuma.

He said women knew that when they married, they respected the whole family including the dog. “In families, there were no children who were favourites and orphans were integrated into families. Fathers built relationships with their children.”

Zuma said the bond between a grandmother and her grandchildren was indescribable. 

“Back then we didn’t have things like old age homes, the elderly were looked after at home because they had an important role to play in building the characters of young children.”

He said when he was growing up children ate from the same bowl to teach them Ubuntu.

Raised by rural women

Zuma said the elderly were not being given the love and attention they deserved. “There are two people that need love and care in the world - children and the elderly - so please treat them with respect.

“Grandmothers teach children responsibility. In the past grandmothers raised children to be men and girls to be women. There was no such thing as divorce because the intentions were good.

"People knew their place in the family,” he said, adding that he was raised by three women. 

"My father had two wives. I wasn't raised by a politician, I was raised by rural women. I am the man I am today because of everything they taught me.

"Respect everyone, even in the opposition. I will always respect my elders, till the day I die," said Zuma 

He wished the elderly a Merry Christmas.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  durban  |  culture

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