Message by Nelson Mandela to 2008 National Youth Festival

25 June 2008

To the youth of South Africa

It is encouraging to know that throughout all the pressing times and solution-seeking moments of today you still find the courage to return to the elders.

Thirty-two years ago, on 16 June 1976 across many townships of our country, sacrifices were made by youth of that time. People laid down their lives for the sake of freedom. Today their reward and ours too, lies in you to defend our democracy, not forgetting those who had to surrender their lives for yours to be spared today.

As we take stock of our accomplishments and shortcomings we should not, by a slightest of chance loose sight of our once ambitious dream for education, total economic participation, democracy and freedom for all. The struggle for democracy has never been a matter pursued by one race, class, religious community or gender among South Africans. As future leaders of this country your challenge is to foster a nation in which all people irrespective of race, colour, sex, religion or creed, can assert social cohesion fully.

Mindful of your own challenges you must continue to promote the principle of relentless freedom and democracy as it is the foundation upon which issues of human rights are ingrained.

I thank you

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation