Opening address by Member of the Mayoral committee (MMC) for Public Safety in Emfuleni Local Municipality, Cllr Pius Maseko, delivered at the the Character Building Conference, Ingwe Lodge, Vanderbijlpark, 22 February 2017

Cllr Pius MasekoGREETINGS AND OPENING REMARKS

Leaders and members of Christian Youth and Beyond,
Member Associations,
Conference Delegates,
Members of the media and,
All distinguished guests.

One man could change the world – so say the lyrics of a popular Hip Hop song I have heard young people sing in recent weeks.
This is powerful statement is true, as foretold by one of the greatest leaders of our time, Mahatma Gandhi, when he said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

This great visionary went on to teach us that we should live as we were to die tomorrow and that an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind. We should look to Gandhi for wisdom and learn as if we were to live forever because it is only through learning and knowledge that our youth could survive the future.

I am Councillor Pius Maseko, a Member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for Public Safety at the Emfuleni Local Municipality. Our Executive Mayor, Councillor Mahole Simon Mofokeng would have loved to amongst us this morning but unfortunately, due to other pressing engagements we is unable join us.

South African has produced a long list of humanitarians who have gone on to win the Noble Peace Prize for their efforts to improve the lives of others. Theirs was the ultimate personal sacrifice. I am proud to have been born in a country where our former President, an icon of our time, the great Nelson Mandela was born. He is one of the people who were a moral compass and his presence had the power to unite a nation. His spoken words remain in our history books from which we must learn the secrets of social cohesion.

If we learn from the generation of uTata uRolihlahla and his generation, we would heal South Africa from its painful past which has resulted in our people divided along racial lines. We have seen in recent months how racist comments online across our social media platforms have caused uproar and disbelief and thereby opening the deep wounds our forebears suffered during the days of oppression by one on another, during the dark days of apartheid. These reckless statements quickly reminded us of our past.

I have been asked to welcome you to Emfuleni this morning, the cradle of Human Rights and the only region in country which has witnessed three deadly apartheid massacres in Sharpeville, Sebokeng and Boipatong. Our region is in the history books for all the blood that flowed in our streets as our brothers and sisters laid down their lives for the freedom and democracy we are enjoying today. There are those in our society who are campaigning to undo our gains by taking us back to the days of racial divisions.

My fellow South Africans, real change and moral regeneration can only be achieved through the education of the youth. Our young people are the future of this country but without education, their future is uncertain. That is my message to you this morning, that the future of this country lies in educating the youth, because one of the instruments to build one’s character is a secret called education. We must dispel the myths that Africans have a fear of education and that they will never learn the secrets of life which are hidden in books.

When the Freedom Charter declared in 1955 that, “The doors of learning shall be open”, that historic document and its authors aspire to shape the world by opening the doors of knowledge through which all young people should walk. It cannot be that ours is a generation known for its heinous crimes, its notorious relationship with drugs and all these social ills now compounded by the triple threat of poverty, unemployment and inequality – the only way our youth stands a chance of bright future is through education.

Let us go and empower ourselves so we can all become better people in our communities. If we do not learn, if we do not acquire new knowledge and information, we will not have the power to change or build our character, or that of the next man, never mind the whole nation. Changed starts with me.

I thank you.

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