Address by Nelson Mandela at official inauguration of Paul Roos Centre at Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch

20 March 2002

Baie dankie vir die geleentheid om vandag hier saam met u te kan wees. Dit is vir my 'n groot voorreg om die nuwe Paul Roos-Sentrum te kan help inwy.

This week had seen one of those moments of victory for one our national sporting teams - the Proteas, our cricket side. Of late we have not had many such victories in our national sporting life.

And South Africans are so impatient with their sports teams. We laud them when they are victorious and turn against them at the first sign of failure.

It is particularly pleasing at this time to be at this school and Centre that carry the name of one of our sporting greats, Paul Roos. I am sure that he would have urged us to support our teams as strongly in defeat as in triumph.

I was informed that his two daughters, Mrs Jonker and Mrs Liebenberg, are present here this morning. And I am further told that they even pip me to the post in the age competition.

In fact one of them wrote to me at the time when there was the debate about whether to obtain the Springbok emblem for our national rugby team. It was, of course, their father Paul Roos who inaugurated the emblem. I am happy to look back at our decision to retain the emblem; and equally happy to inaugurate a centre in the name of Paul Roos in the presence of his daughters.

This school has of course produced more Springbok rugby players than any other in the country. The name of Paul Roos seems to have imbued this institution with so much rugby tradition and energy that references to so-called Madiba magic pales into insignificance next to it.

Paul Roos Gimnasium is duidelik 'n plek wat leiers vir die lewe voorberei. Mense wat diep spore in die lewe van die land getrap het, het hier skool gegaan.

Three Prime Ministers schooled here in the persons of Generals Smuts and Hertzog and Dr Malan. With some of the policies of those men we might have differed deeply and taken grave issue with. That they were leaders of great significance in the history of our country none can dispute. And General Smuts left his mark far beyond the borders of our country; he was an international statesman who was widely respected.

Those of you who presently study here should always be aware of the singular privilege you have. Institutions of learning impart knowledge, skills and character also through the good traditions they pass on from one generation to the other. You are privileged to be in a school with such proud traditions.

Times change and we go forward in the world. The traditions of institutions themselves change with the changing times. Amidst all of this there are those values that remain valid through all changes: such as, self-discipline, respect for others, sense of duty, application and responsibility.

You, the youth, are further privileged to be living in these challenging times of change in our country and in the world.

The people of South Africa surprised the world by the manner in which we peacefully broke with our divided past and established a non-racial democracy. Most experts predicted that we would end up with a bloody racial war in which we would destroy ourselves. We were widely acclaimed to be a miracle nation.

Now, eight years into our new democracy, we are engaged as one single nation in reconstructing and developing our country. We recognise that we are one people with one common destiny.

Nothing can be more important to our future than education and learning. In this modern and globalised world, a winning nation is one with lots of high-level skilled people.

You, the youth, are our future. Do to well at school, is not only for your own sake. It is also for the sake of the development of our nation.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation