Cape Town - Former president Nelson Mandela would have wanted the African continent to unite, International Relations Deputy Minister Marius Fransman told diplomats during a memorial in Cape Town on Thursday.
“Many from across the world ask us: 'How shall we let the legacy of Mandela live on? How shall we keep his dream alive?” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at St George's Cathedral.
“Let us work together to build more bridges that can connect South Africa and the entire African continent; let us put an end to underdevelopment, Afro-pessimism and everything that hinders progress.”
Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday, aged 95.
Memorials are being held around the country ahead of his funeral in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday.
Fransman said Mandela had been able to grow and maintain a devoted following locally and internationally despite being in jail for almost three decades.
During his presidency Ä from 1994 to 1999 Ä he had worked tirelessly to reconcile deep societal divides, heal a conflict-ridden Africa and build bridges with the African diaspora.
“He understood that to build unity, achieve development goals and overcome the endemic scourge of poverty, we have to stand together in the spirit of international solidarity, as he so eloquently quoted the African proverb: The attacks of the wild beast cannot be averted with only bare hands.”
Fransman said Mandela was profoundly affected by his visit to Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, Senegal and Guinea in 1962. The visit provided him with insight into continental diplomacy and liberation strategies.
When the African National Congress was fighting apartheid, many African countries sheltered its members, often at great cost.
“Today, we say to all these states, as indeed Madiba and the ANC government has done over the past two decades, our nation owes you an immense debt of gratitude,” he said.
Fransman, who is also ANC leader in the Western Cape, said he was humbled by the tributes that had poured in from all over the world.
“His death tells us that the seeds of world peace, justice and dignity for all that he planted wherever he went have taken root. It tells us that though Madiba has passed on, his legacy lives on and his dream will never die.”
People could honour the anti-apartheid icon by creating opportunities for some 95 million unemployed youth in Africa, and open up new trade and investment possibilities.