Message from President Nelson Mandela to high school pupils at Namahadi, Frankfort

29 May 1998

I sincerely regret that I am not able to personally deliver this message to you today. Due to engagements I had agreed to sometime ago, I cannot be with you on this very important occasion.

I committed myself to attend the opening of the Embo Health Centre at Umbumbulu in KwaZulu-Natal. This afternoon I will officiate at the handling over of the command of South African National Defence Force to Lieutenant General Siphiwe Nyanda at the parade in Pretoria.

Now that South Africa is free opportunities are available to all South Africans, irrespective of the colour of their skin.

The world is yours to conquer. The limitations that apartheid imposed have been removed. The horizons of achievement are widening and our effort and sense of application are no longer bound by the whim of anyone.

South Africa needs scientists, engineers, doctors, economists and other specialists in various fields. These must emerge from among you and I urge you to take the challenge. I know that you will do this, typical of all South Africans.

For the first time in the history of this country you have a government that cares. your parents, and that includes me, never had the rights and privileges you enjoy. Make use of these opportunities and contribute to make your lives and those of your children better.

In September this year, South Africa will host more than two hundred heads of state and government who will be attending the Non Aligned Movement summit. We will be expected to provide leadership and guidance. This is a further indication of the challenges, responsibility and opportunities that South Africans have. You will then realise that our responsibilities are not just to ourselves, but to the whole world.

They might look distant at this stage, yet the matriculation examinations at the end of the year require that we commence with our preparations now. There is an obligation on all of you, the teachers and the parents as well as the government to improve on last year's pass rate.

In our short history of freedom South Africans have learned not to disappoint, I know you have learnt that lesson well.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website