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Johannesburg - Young people should remember that freedom did not fall from the sky but was fought, anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada said on Wednesday.
“Young people must remember that freedom did not fall from heaven. Freedom was brought at great sacrifice but with freedom comes responsibility,” he said.
“Apartheid is gone but the challenges today are hunger, poverty, unemployment and disease, and that is where young people come in.”
He told young people to educate themselves and to become skilled because South Africa had a shortage of skills.
The responsibility of the students was to take advantage of every opening that was there and to qualify themselves because education was vital, he said.
Kathrada was addressing the Annual Golden Key Thinkers Symposium of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
Speaking to the auditorium filled with young people, he said youth needed to realise they have a responsibility now.
“You must educate yourself to serve yourself, to serve your parents and to serve your country,” said Kathrada.
Addressing the current state of politics in the country, Kathrada said South Africa had made progress in terms of democracy.
He said the most important thing achieved so far was dignity as human beings.
The new problems could not be solved by people complaining. Instead they must do something about it.
“The problems can't be solved in 19 years. We have come a long way but we can't say this thing should have been done and not that,” he said.
“Take the opportunities that are before you and improve yourself and help the people before you.”
Kathrada encouraged young people to use democratic channels to bring the change to the country they wanted to see.
“If the ruling party is departing from the constitution of the country, you have got the democratic right to organise yourselves to bring things right,” he said.
He spoke about his experiences during apartheid and in prison on Robben Island with former president Nelson Mandela.
Leaders did not live in a vacuum and were not necessarily born as leaders, he said.
“Leaders become leaders in certain circumstances,” he said.