Asked what they expected of the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture 2016, where the keynote speaker was billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates, this is what audience members had to say.
“[Mandela’s legacy] is about making a difference in the lives of those who need to it,” said Thabang Mamphane, CEO of the Lotteries Commission.
“I’ve been coming for three years and I have found that there is always something to take away. In terms of Mandela’s legacy, we need to keep it alive. We can use what he has taught us to help us grow as a country, and it gives us something to share with future generations,” said Matshego Sesiu.
“[Mandela’s] legacy is about inclusion and development for all. We all have a responsibility to continue to contribute to each other’s lives and to do the best we can as a society,” said Richard Akwei, on the meaning of Mandela’s legacy.
“It is important not to forget. We need to hear these things for us to understand our role so that we may give back,” said community activist Thabo Pelesane.
Geoffrey Abrams, of the Thabo Pelesane Foundation, said that Mandela “symbolises the ethos of service above self [and] continues to be a reminder of a history we should never forget".
Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions Willie Hofmeyr said he was “looking forward to hearing the insights that [Bill] Gates will share in this year’s lecture with all of the contributions he has made to the world”.
A University of Pretoria law student, Puno Selesho, said that “[Mandela] is a human being who challenges us to be better and asks of us to be utterly selfless".
“He has paved a great way for our generation and now we all have a voice. It took a lot to be who he was, and it should make us think of his courage and pride," said Dennis Ngango, a student and Yfm contributor on what Mandela’s legacy means to him.
“We are all his children. We must retrace his steps and use them to move forward,” said Firdoze Bulbulia.
Director of Mandela’s Africa, Faith Isiakpere, said the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture is important because “it has put Africa on the map [and] is a good incentive to be great. It is a marker to show where African leadership should be going and [speaks about] good governance. African leadership should be learning [from] what he stood for.”
“Madiba deserves it,” said Inkatha Freedom Party leader Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi, on the meaning of the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.
Jean Chawapiwa, of WEConnect International (South Africa) said that “[Mandela] was the greatest African who has ever lived. To be here to honour his name is itself an honour, and it’s emotional. ”
Sandisiwe Gugushe said that Mandela’s legacy is “something you have to feel more than it is something in your head. It’s in your heart. [The Annual Lecture] is an opportunity to connect.”
Said MP and former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad of Madiba's legacy: “He came out [of prison] not an angry person, he came out leading us into our democratic South Africa and working towards reconciliation. He’s an inspiration to all generations and in the world. The more we learn from his life, the more we’ll be able to work towards a better South Africa.”
Alfred Matamela, who is part of Bikers for Mandela Day, attended the lecture for the first time. He remembers Nelson Mandela for the role he played in “bringing equity between blacks and whites".
“With the theme being around unity, I’m keen to see somebody from the outside give his perspective on how he’s thinking we should tackle our challenges,” said well-known hip-hop artist and TV personality ProVerb. The challenges he wanted to see addressed were racism, unemployment, crime and healthcare. “Starting the conversation is a step in the right direction.”
Tshepo Sadiki said South Africans should never forget “the freedom that we got” thanks to Nelson Mandela. He was looking forward to Bill Gates addressing the economic challenges faced by South Africa.
"South Africa still needs a lot of healing," said Njabulo Pelonomi. She was hoping that the lecture would focus on “the whole togetherness – working peacefully together”.
He (Bill Gates) is a wise man and he has a lot of wisdom to share … Nelson Mandela has always encouraged knowledge sharing and people development and education. We have to hold on to continuous knowledge sharing and development, said Patricia Tharage.