Item 1084 - Address at Father's Day lunch hosted by Zindzi Mandela, : Madiba pays warm tribute to Nkosi

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ZA COM MR-S-1084

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Address at Father's Day lunch hosted by Zindzi Mandela, : Madiba pays warm tribute to Nkosi

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  • 2001-06-01 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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Father's Day lunch hosted by Zindzi Mandela for Hyatt Women of Vision Club

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  • English

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In addition to the prepared speech Mandela add-libbed.

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TRANSCRIPT

Madiba pays warm tribute to Nkosi
By John Battersby

Former president Nelson Mandela, paying tribute to the late Nkosi Johnson, has called on all South Africans to take the lead in a drive for moral renewal based on respect for women and children and a restoration of the father as a role model to create a caring family environment.

He also called for a spirit of optimism among the country's leaders and teachers.

"Moral regeneration starts at home," Mandela told an audience of 80 invited guests on Friday at a lunch hosted by his daughter Zindzi to pay tribute to him as a father under the auspices of the Hyatt Women of Vision Club.

The guests included Andrew Young, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Largely off-the-cuff speech
The event coincided with the International Day of the Child and the beginning of Child Protection Week in South Africa. Nkosi Johnson passed away early on Friday morning.

Intermittently reading from a short prepared speech, Mandela spoke for more than 40 minutes about matters of the heart. His speech was peppered with dozens of anecdotes from his days in prison and the lessons he had learnt from reading about how people had triumphed over adversity.

The recurring theme of his largely off-the-cuff speech was the interplay between the potential of the individual - once he or she had set their sights on a goal - and the primacy of the community as the context for achieving social progress.

"The important thing to remember is that no single person can do everything," he said at one point.

But he also returned repeatedly to the potential of the individual to triumph over adversity.

'He turned catastrophe into a triumph'
"Some people are broken down by disaster, others are able to turn that into a triumph," he said, citing several case studies of people who had defied medical science to achieve what doctors said was impossible.

"Once a person is determined to help themselves there is nothing that can stop them," he said.

He said that Nkosi Johnson was an excellent example of someone who had triumphed over adversity and in so doing was a role model to children and adults alike.

Mandela appealed to ordinary South Africans to become leaders in their own right and not to always look to the political leadership to solve the country's problems.

Healing the society and solving problems, he said, had to be a collective act.

"We are always surrounded by people who have done more than us," Mandela said.

"Sometimes it pains me to see the real thinkers and the real architects of this transition who are never mentioned," he said.

"Its no use thinking that President Thabo Mbeki or Deputy President Jacob Zuma or tourism and environment minister Mohammed Valli Moosa can solve all the problems.

"You are leaders in your own right. You don't have to be a president or a former president - or a pensioner like me - to serve the society."

Mandela also called for a spirit of optimism among teachers and leaders.

"We need to work on and improve our thinking and our emotions. A good teacher is always optimistic without gloating over the problems which beset us."

Dealing with the issue of family values, Mandela said that while women had taken the lead in this respect, men had a key role to play in moral renewal.

"It begins in the home and the father has an important role to play in his conduct towards his wife and daughter and other women in the family," he said.

"His conduct will determine to a large extent how his sons will conduct themselves in their own lives and how much confidence and self-esteem his daughters will go out into the world with.

"The family helps create a climate of caring that can have long-term effects.

"Our society needs to re-establish a culture of caring.

"The young and vulnerable are being abused and very often it is by their own parents. The mother knows but does not want to report it to the police.

"So it is a very difficult situation for the policy to deal with," he said, attempting to shift the responsibility onto society and family members themselves.

Mandela said that the realisation that women were equal to men was "one of the most important developments in South Africa" in the past decade.

Mandela described Nkosi Johnson as an "inspiration to both children and adults in how to deal with adversity".

"He turned catastrophe into a triumph," Mandela said of the young boy who captured the hearts of South Africans across racial, religious and ethnic divides.

Mandela received a framed painting made up of the imprints of the hands of young children suffering from HIV/Aids. The painting was presented by nine-year-old Lesego Mhlanga, who has been HIV-positive since birth.

Lesego was abandoned in the KwaMhlanga region of KwaNdebele and is now under the care of Major Lenah Jwili of the Salvation Army. Jwili runs the Bethesda House sanctuary for HIV-positive and abandoned babies and orphans in Klipspruit, Soweto.

Jwili said that when Lesego was abandoned there were no institutions in the country that would accept HIV-positive babies.

Bethesda House opened its doors to HIV/Aids orphans in 1993 and Lesego was the second child to be admitted. The sanctuary currently cares for 18 such children and Jwili is working with 100 families with HIV-positive children.

"For the first six years, Lesego was nurtured on love and nutrition," Jwili said.

It was only last year that he was put on medication and anti-retrovirals.

"Lesego shows that there is still hope," Jwili said. "He came into my arms at 18 months and now he is nine years old."

Mandela hugged the boy and exchanged jokes with him.

Published on the Web by IOL on 2001-06-02 18:25:06

Note

TRANSCRIPT

1. One of the most positive developments in our South African thinking in recent years had been the manner and extent to which we became conscious of the rights and the role of women in society.

It is the mark of genuine emancipation to recognise and be aware of gender issues and gender equality. This applies in the home as much as anywhere else; in fact this is one case where charity really begins at home.

The father has an important role to play in this regard. The example that he sets in his conduct towards his wife, daughters and other females will be formative.

It will determine to a large extent how the sons conduct themselves in future, and with how much self-esteem, dignity and self-confidence the daughters go out into life.

2. One of the most shameful parts of South Africa's apartheid history is in how black family life was ruined by separating fathers from families.

The system of migratory labour placed tremendous burdens on mothers to keep virtual single parent families together.

It is against that background, too, that we are particularly conscious of the role of the father in a family.

3. With the development towards gender equality women are increasingly taking their places in the workplace and becoming co-providers and breadwinners in families.

By and large, though, it still remains the primary task of fathers to provide economic security to families.

Poverty and economic suffering cause many of the social ills we encounter in our society today. Fathers, obviously in partnership with other economically active members, have an important role to play in giving a sense of security and dignity to their families in this regard.

We know that unemployment and a lack of job opportunities present terrible hurdles. For that reason, dedication and discipline are so important where one is in a work. In this way, the father becomes more than a breadwinner; he is also a role model setting the tone.

4. Apart from all the important material factors, there is also the moral aspects needing attention in our society. We sometimes spoke of "the RDP of the soul" that is required.

This moral regeneration starts at home. There are some simple values like love and respect for others that need to be inculcated or re-inculcated.

Males are often seen as tough and domineering. Fathers have a role to break down those stereotyped images and to be the bearers and promoters of love and gentleness in families.

Making time for children and for the family within the other pressing demands of life helps to create a climate of caring and love that can have long term effects.

5. The important thing to remember in our developing society is that no single person can do everything. The father's role is in partnership with all other members of the family. It means respectful co-operation with the mother and children.

6. Our entire society needs to rediscover our sense of caring for the more vulnerable. We know that amongst the generally vulnerable sector of children, the girl-child is even more exposed and vulnerable.

Building stable material and moral foundations protect them particularly too.

Note

RELATED INFORMATION

The prepared speech added to the database. However Mandela also add-libbed as per the news report which is added as the second transcript. The speech as delivered will be transcribed if we can locate it.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 17/03/09 by Razia Saleh

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