Address by President Nelson Mandela to school children at Brits Sports Centre

26 November 1995

Boys and girls;

It is no secret I am a great lover of the beauty and skill that is displayed by drill teams and drum majorettes. Today's event is therefore a very special occasion for me.

It is always a pleasure to be at political rallies and gatherings where the occasions are livened up, and injected with the joy of life, by the skilful displays of drum majorettes.

But skill and artistic beauty never just happen by themselves. They are the result of many hours of hard work and sweat. There can be few things more exciting than to strive for perfection, and being among the best in the world.

I would like to congratulate those who have achieved so much.

Ek is trots dat die span van Laerskool Roodebeeck ons land ook op internasionale vlak so uitstekend verteenwoordig het by die Internasionale Kompetisie op die Isle of Man. Baie geluk met die hele string eerste plekke wat julle daar behaal het!

Unfortunately Martha's Marines could not attend that competition because of financial difficulties. I know how sore your hearts must have been when you could not take your rightful place to represent our country. But do not to be discouraged. Your hard work is noticed and will be rewarded. Although it is small consolation, I want to assure you of my pride and great appreciation for what you have achieved.

I hope that such disappointments are a thing of the past. I hope that South Africans will in future open their pockets to ensure that of all our teams which qualify for international competitions can participate. There can be no better investment than investing in the growth and development of our children.

The skills demonstrated here today are just one small part of the enormous wealth of talent and potential which is in all of you. You young people are the leaders of tomorrow. When we older people have done all we can, it is you who must continue to build our nation. Together with all the children of our land, you are the greatest wealth that we have, more precious than all the gold and other minerals in our soils.

But for your great potential to be turned into the skills which our people need, education is essential. A decent education is something that most of your parents never had. They struggled long and sacrificed much so that every South African child could have the opportunity which they lacked. I urge you to seize that opportunity. Apply yourselves to your studies. In doing that you will be building your own future and the future of your country.

I always feel that one of the worst things that apartheid did was to prevent all the children of our country from simply being healthy and natural young people, and playing and working together. This gathering here today tells us that our children are in the forefront of our country's return to normality.


Ek wil afsluit om elkeen van die jongmense wat vandag hier byeen is, vanaf die kleinste tot die oudste kind, te verseker van my groot liefde vir julle.

I want to say to each young person here today, that I love you very much

You are the future of South Africa. The hope of our rainbow nation.

Thank you

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation