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Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the award ceremony for the President's Award for Community Initiative February 5, 1998

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In this speech, Nelson Mandela speaks at the award ceremony for the President's Award for Community Initiative. He talks about communities joining hands to create a better life. This is the reason for the President's Award for Community Initiative, to honor and celebrate community action and participation. He closes with the hope that this will strengthen the partnerships between government and communities.

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Master of Ceremonies;

Minister Valli Moosa;

Honoured guests.

As the President of South Africa it is my privilege to attend many functions as a representative of our people. All these functions are important, but today's ceremony has a special meaning and it is a great pleasure and honour to share it with you.

Sometimes along the road to a better life, when we are faced with difficulties, when we stumble and fall, it is all too easy to despair and give up.

But when one hears of how our communities are joining hands to create a better life for themselves and those around them, then we regain the strength to meet whatever difficulties there may be.

Fundamental to the success of all our efforts at reconstruction and development is community action and participation. As we face the challenge of meeting our people's basic needs with limited resources, those who roll up their sleeves and take the initiative to uplift their conditions in the spirit of Masakhane, and in partnership with others, set an example for all of us to follow.

That was why the government decided to set up the President's Award for Community Initiative. It allows us, as a nation, to honour communities that act in this way and together celebrate what they have done.

The enthusiasm and determination with which South Africa are rebuilding their country is there for all to see in the number and the quality of projects nominated for these awards. All around this country, out of the headlines, people are joining hands in partnerships which spur development.

If they are to succeed they must, as those represented here have done, achieve much from few resources; find the path to sustainable creation of jobs and self-sufficiency; develop new skills; and involve their communities.

None of our plans can succeed without such efforts. Government on its own cannot provide what is needed, nor should it try to do so.

The function of government and parliament is to serve the people, by ensuring the conditions under which communities and every sector of society can work together with government to achieve the goals we have set ourselves as a nation. It is therefore only right that representatives of communities which are rising to these challenges, should be present at the opening of the parliamentary year tomorrow.

On this occasion we should thank all those involved - communities, organisers, adjudicators and others - as the pioneers who have worked to make this first year of the Award such a success. You have set a standard that will challenge others to follow in your foot steps in future years.

In conclusion, to the communities you represent, and indeed to all the fifty communities and more who were runner-up, we say: Congratulations!

May the injection of resources which the prizes bring, help you build on the foundation you have laid. May your example reinforce the spirit of Masakhane in our land. May it strengthen the partnership of government and communities!

Together we have made a good start. Let us work together to build the country of our dreams!

Courtesy of Nelson Mandela Foundation
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Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the award ceremony for the President's Award for Community Initiative- February 5, 1998

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