AU resolves to mark the Mandela Centenary

The African Union (AU) has adopted a decision to commemorate the centenary of South Africa’s first post-apartheid President, Nelson Mandela. The.year 2018 is the year of Nelson Mandela in South Africa and President Jacob Zuma used the opportunity created by the gathering of heads of state in Ethiopia to lobby them to also honour Mandela this year. 
Upon his return on Tuesday, Zuma said he was delighted that the AU embraced the decision to mark the centenary Mandela.
“We were pleased to see the warmth with which our fellow Africans received the message about commemorating Madiba’s centenary. This once again shows that Africa is ready to preserve Madiba’s legacy of pan-African solidarity as well as peace and reconciliation,” the South African president said.
At a dinner Zuma hosted to honour Mandela in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, last Saturday, he told fellow African leaders that the Nelson Mandela Centenary is a perfect opportunity for leaders of the continent to share ideas on how to positively change the prevailing human condition in Africa and beyond.

This dinner was held on the sidelines of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  

Zuma said Mandela viewed life through a prism of hope as he negotiated the trials and tribulations of his life to ultimately become “a colossus of our day. His life story is a classic example of the triumph of the human spirit”. 

“Mandela was an ordinary human being who was compelled by the unjust conditions of his life in a country of his forebears to dedicate his entire life to the emancipation of his people from the manacles of a brutal political and socio-economic system. His bravery in the face of calamity inspires all of us to give our all and fight for justice whenever it is trampled upon,” Zuma told guests who included representatives from other African countries.

It is at this dinner that Zuma made an appeal to the AU to adopt the year 2018 as the year of the centenary of Nelson Mandela. 

“The year 2018 presents an opportunity for Africa and humanity as a whole to remember the legacy of this great icon, and to reflect on how we can make a meaningful contribution to promoting the ideals, principles and values that President Mandela stood for, ideals that were informed by Africa’s quest for freedom and prosperity.
“Today’s event marks the beginning of a year-long programme featuring different events that will be taking place in South Africa, Africa and the world, all in honour of the legacy of this great son of the soil. The theme for the Centenary is “Be the Legacy”. We are called upon to bring his legacy to life in our places of abode, work, leadership, business and in our interactions with other fellow human beings,” Zuma said. 
The President said despite his greatness and international popularity, Mandela was an ordinary human being who elected to do extraordinary things with his life.
“The fact that he is no longer amongst us is testimony to the reality that he, like all of us, was a mere mortal. Despite his humility, his legacy is a testament to the greatness that men and women can achieve when they put immeasurable effort to the realization of their vision. History abounds with legends that recount the bravery of men and women who have made a contribution so significant to humanity that it seems unreal. Generations to come will read about a man from the southern tip of Africa, who inspired a generation to claim its freedom from the grasp of a barbaric and callous oppressor, and proclaimed a vision of a caring society underpinned by the values of respect for human rights, freedom, service, equality and justice, while seeing unity as a weapon for victory. 

At its January 8 celebrations in East London last month, the ANC declared 2018 the Year of Nelson Mandela under the theme: "100 years of Nelson Mandela: The year of unity, renewal and jobs". 

Zuma added that Mandela remains the epitome of peace, hope, humility and reconciliation. 

“He stands as an embodiment of the highest standards of the African Union as an organisation upon which the people of Africa look for inspired hope. We dare not linger. The bar is set high. Ours is to “Be the Legacy” and actualise Madiba’s vision of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Africa,” he said.
The South African President reminded African leaders that the continent is now home to more than a billion people, most of whom are young and deserve a better life. 

“It is true that African leaders took the baton from Madiba and introduced robust and innovative policies and programmes to expedite the development of the continent. Agenda 2063 is our flagship programme that can unleash the continent’s potential and bring about hope and prosperity to all. I appeal to all of you, fellow leaders of our peoples, to consolidate our efforts and contribute to the upliftment of our people.

“Like Madiba, we are hopeful that the day will come when Africa will be freed of the scourge of conflict and underdevelopment and focus its energies and resources on the creation of a better and sustainable livelihood for all”. 

Then AU Chairperson, Alpha Condé, encouraged his fellow African leaders to emulate Mandela

“That is why by nurturing the memory of Madiba is an example that many African leaders have to follow. Because at the same time the future generations will learn from it about his integrity and the courage of this leader,” Condé said.