Zuma talks drugs, first loves, learning to read and church

2016-06-27 08:22


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Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma has called on South African youth to love themselves, build themselves up, respect their elders and stay away from drugs.

The president was speaking during a wide-ranging interview on Ukhozi FM on Sunday morning.

He said youth needed to be moulded and tended to and that the teachings of parents were important in creating responsible citizens.

As part of the station’s birthday celebrations, the president took a walk down memory lane. He told the listeners about his days herding cattle while yearning for education.

He had worked at his grandfather’s farm from a young age, and had been so good at herding that his family forgot that he was supposed to start school.

Learning to read

But he had made a plan, he said, and convinced a cousin in Standard 4 (Grade 6) to teach him to read.

“I used to be so curious when schoolchildren came back holding their ‘slates’ and ask them what was written on it. At that time, I couldn’t read at all,” he told listeners.

He said he had convinced his cousin to open a night school for the herd boys in the area, who could not attend school.

The president also read The Mercury newspaper and Bona magazine to teach himself English, he said.

Zuma recalled putting on his Sunday best to go to church with his grandmother every Sunday, where he learnt about right and wrong. “There was no compromise, Sunday was church day, all the time,” he said.

He talked of sneaking around at night to visit his mother in Durban where she worked.

Battling flu, the president also took listeners back to when he first discovered women. He said the first girl who had ever turned his head was his wife, Sizakele MaKhumalo, he said.

“We have come a long way,” he said.

International Day against Drug Abuse

In a statement following the interview, the president again appealed to South Africa's youth to stay away from drugs as the world marked the International Day Against Drug Abuse.

Indications are that between 7.5 and 31 percent of South Africans have an alcohol problem or are at risk, the presidency said.

“The abuse of drugs is threatening to destroy many families. Some parents live in fear of their children who terrorise them and neighbours, due to the abuse of nyaope, whoonga, cocaine, heroin and other drugs.

"We appeal to our youth to say NO to drugs," said Zuma. "Those who are already addicted should seek treatment. Government is building treatment centres in every province, to make treatment accessible."

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  narcotics  |  youth

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