WASHINGTON – Having lost his son to AIDS in January,Nelson Mandela,the former president of South Africa,challenged the United States Monday to increase its efforts to eradicate poverty and AIDS,not only in Africa,but in all impoverished countries.
But he said help from abroad isn't enough – Africa must do its part.
“If we are to terminate all forms of tyranny everywhere,we will have to be aware that true democracy cannot be imposed nor transplanted,it must be home grown,” Mandela said.
Mandela,87,spoke at the Brookings Institution,a think tank,about eliminating poverty and creating three “Mandela Legacy Organizations.”
Although the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund,the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation are related,each has an individual goal to fulfill in Mandela's name.
“The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund,one of the three charitable organizations I have established in my name,works for the well being of children and youth and will do so far into the future,” Mandela said.
He said the Nelson Mandela Foundation will seek to “redress the legacies of apartheid” by improving primary and secondary education. The Mandela Rhodes Foundation,launched earlier this year in partnership with the Rhodes group that sends students to Oxford University for two years of post-graduate study,will provide scholarships at African institutions of higher learning.
Mandela added that some of the issues that Africa needs assistance with are also priorities for President Bush.
“One is health,and the need to provide greater access to means of prevention and treatment for Africa's greatest scourges: HIV/AIDS,malaria and TB,” Mandela said. “Freedom,after all,means nothing to someone left to die at the mercy of these preventable and treatable diseases.”
He said education is “the means for people to empower themselves,” adding,“I feel a special bond with the very young,perhaps because what I missed most during my years in prison were the sounds of children laughing and the warmth of my own family.”
Although he spoke for less than 10 minutes,Mandela got a good reaction from the more than 300 people in the Falk Auditorium.
“I found Mr. Mandela's speech to be full of inspiration,” said Paul A. Brathwaite,executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. “It was a clarion call to the U.S. to become a part of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in … eradicating world poverty and lead to a brighter world.”