Johannesburg - ANC Gauteng secretary David Makhura fondly recalled on Saturday learning leadership lessons from former president Nelson Mandela.
Speaking near Mandela's former home in Vilakazi Street, Soweto, Makhura remembered Mandela's advice to him when he was a student political leader in 1990.
“We were hardened fighters... (But) he taught us it is not a sign of weakness to sit at a table and compromise with your enemy.”
The advice of Mandela, who had just been released from prison, was not always what the student struggle activists wanted to hear.
The decision to suspend the armed struggle was “a big disappointment for us”.
“We felt he was betraying us, selling us out.”
Makhura said this non-populist approach was a hallmark of true leadership.
“Mandela teaches us that when you believe in something, you must stand up for it, even if it makes you unpopular,” he said.
“One person can change the country, the world... But first that person must take that first step.
“Mandela's uncompromising commitment to serve people (here in Soweto)... was his first leadership lesson,” Makhura said.
On behalf of the African National Congress in Gauteng, he conveyed condolences to Mandela's family, the country and the world.
Mandela moved into the house in Vilakazi Street with his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, in 1946. They divorced in 1957, and the next year Mandela was joined in the house by his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The house is now a museum.
An ANC truck bearing the image of President Jacob Zuma was parked near the house, and a growing number of people sang and clapped nearby. - Sapa