Zuma pays tribute to struggle veteran Sisulu

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma on Friday extended his good wishes to the Sisulu family as many South Africans remember his life today - the day he would have turned 100 years old.

Sisulu, who died in 2003, became a symbol of the fight against the apartheid regime. The Walter Sisulu University Foundation hosted a breakfast to mark his birthday, while the ANC in Gauteng is hosting a symposium to honour him.

Sisulu, born on 18 May 1912, was jailed on Robben Island alongside struggle stalwarts such Nelson Mandela, Raymond Mhlaba and Armed Katrada.

Mandela once described Sisulu as someone who "knew and taught us" that wisdom comes from sharing insights and listening to and learning from each other.

"He was always the unifier, never a divider where others of us would speak a hasty word or act in anger, he was the patient one, seeking to heal and bring together."

Zuma said it was this strength of personality, humility and deep sense of purpose about life and the struggle which kept the spirits alive during the long periods of incarceration on Robben Island.

"As we celebrate the achievement of democracy, freedom and equality that Sisulu and his compatriots bequeathed on this nation, we must do so with a deep sense of gratitude and humility," he said.

South Africans should always be reminded of their responsibility to guard the country's hard earned democracy jealously, and advance this country to higher levels of development, growth and prosperity by fighting hunger and poverty, inequality, disease and unemployment as a significant step to economic freedom, Zuma added.