PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa said his generation of African leaders, including those before him, only won political freedom – it was up to the youth to win economic freedom for South Africa and the continent at large.
Ramaphosa, was speaking at Friday’s inaugural Nelson Mandela Youth Dialogue, held at the Walter Sisulu University’s Nelson Mandela Drive Campus in Mthatha.
Towards the end of his 40-minute speech, Ramaphosa said: “Change will come from the decisions that you make, the actions you undertake, and from the values by which you choose to live.” He told the 200-strong audience: “We have won political freedom in Africa.
It is your responsibility to pursue economic freedom and prosperity, unity and integration.” Despite having gained freedom and independence many years ago, most African countries still have the most unequal societies – with black Africans living in abject poverty and the economy still run by European companies.
The dialogue, which saw youth leaders from 18 African countries converging in Mthatha, is the brainchild of Ramaphosa, according to the programme director of the event, Karabo Mohale. Mohale is also the executive deputy chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency.
“This dialogue is essentially about the role of enterprise in bringing a better life to all our people. To succeed, we must affirm Africa as the birthplace of all humanity and the cradle for civilisation, archaeology, history and science, which confirms Africa as a pre-eminent centre of innovation, scholarship and commerce,” the president said.
Ramaphosa described Africa as a continent on the rise, with a democracy that is being consolidated and deepened, despite a few isolated examples of regression.
He said in order to drive the development of the continent, to free it from economic injustice and social marginalisation, Africa’s youth must know that innovative talent originated in Africa and that they share an affinity with the civilisations of Egypt, Timbuktu, Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe.
“In our quest to root out the scourge of poverty, unemployment and inequality, in our pursuit for an equitable economic renaissance, we must simultaneously plant the seeds of Africa’s regeneration,” Ramaphosa said.
Some of the dignitaries who attended the event included Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Nkosazana DlaminiZuma, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and the chairperson of the SA Youth Council in Buffalo City, Andisiwe Kumbaca. In delivering his address, Mabuyane said the launch of the Nelson Mandela Youth Dialogue was an important milestone in awakening a necessary global youth movement for development.
“It must be sustained and accelerated further, with meaningful programmes that can mobilise the youth of our continent and the global south behind a common vision of global solidarity for human development,” said Mabuyane.
He said it was former president Mandela who reminded us that “sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great; you can be that generation”. — News24