Graça Machel, the widow of the former South African president Nelson Mandela has joined the bandwagon of agitators for the emergence of fresh and better leaders for South Africa.
Speaking at a memorial service held in honour of Nelson Mandela in Houghton at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Graça urged South Africans to take back their country.
She called for a fresh approach to leadership, saying South Africans, not the government or politicians‚ had the power to move the country forward and the people must be up in choosing a new crop of leaders that will stand with those who liberated the country.
“South Africa, it’s in your hands. Stand up and take it…We should get to 2018, having some kind of clarity of who the new crop of leaders are, standing on the shoulders of those we are celebrating.
“I wish 2018 will help us to identify, nurture and take them to the heights. This country is extraordinary. It cannot be compared to any other African countries… It has to produce a new crop of that collective because it is in the South African DNA.”
Mandela died at the age of 95 on December 5, 2013, and South Africans chose to hold an event in commemoration of his passing and Graça Machel who actually holds the distinction of being the only woman in history to be the First Lady of two separate countries – Mozambique and South Africa- was there to honour her late husband.
She served the role in her native Mozambique for 11 years, from 1975 – 1986. She was then First Lady of South Africa for a year, after marrying Madiba almost 20 years ago.
In her speech also, the former politician, teacher, humanitarian charged the South African leaders to exhibit a measure of dignity and grace found in the statesman, Mandela.
“It is in our hands. It is not only because the government is doing this‚ the leaders are doing this or political parties are doing this‚” she said.
Graça Machel said Mandela and others did what they could while they were still alive thus, every South African must give its best for a better future of the country.
“People are born‚ they live and they die. We must celebrate what they have given us as a legacy. But, more importantly, we have to take this nation to the highest levels.”
Machel said she believed South Africa was an extraordinary country that was‚ in several respects‚ incomparable to other African countries.