Ramaphosa: Mandela taught us people come first

The acting president said Mandela taught the country that great victories were the products of hard work.

A file photo taken on 6 December, 2013 shows a framed image of former South African president Nelson Mandela as people pay tributes following his death, in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Acting president Cyril Ramaphosa says Nelson Mandela identified the humanity in every South African and relied upon it to inspire his dream of reconciliation.

He was speaking at an event in Freedom Park in Pretoria earlier today at an event commemorating Mandela's death.

Earlier, wreathes were placed at the statue of the statesman at the Union Buildings.

Ramaphosa said at the country's most difficult time, Mandela identified the nation's weaknesses and failures.

He said Madiba guided the country.

Ramaphosa said Madiba's long walk is now over and it is time for the country to continue.

He said Mandela taught the country that great victories were the products of hard work.

"As we reflect on the challenges on poverty, unemployment and inequality, it is only through united action that we can succeed in defeating these evil ills."

He said Madiba believed in equality for all.

"Nelson Mandela taught us that people come first. Not just some people but all the people."

[WATCH] A 13 minute documentary of Mandela's life provided by the Nelson Mandela Foundation

He said Madiba represents the nation's desire for a better future and will continue to be a guiding light for South Africans but the nation must work at remaining united.


Mandela's widow Graca Machel has urged the country to carry on his legacy.

She spoke during a wreathe-laying ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Machel said Mandela gave South Africans the gift of acceptance of one another.

"We have a common history and we have a common destiny. We are bound to live together. We have to learn to accept one another as part of the big body which is the nation."

She said South Africans have a long way to go to overcome prejudice but it is up to us to change this.

"It is in the hands of each one of us to take what is your stake to close the divisions which are still within us."

Machel said she's confident that wherever Madiba is now, he is happy and has a smile on his face.

"I can imagine him, tall and proud, walking, and all of them raising to receive him and him beaming in his contagious smile, embracing each one of them."