Nelson Mandela receives top Africa Scout Award

Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, has been presented the Africa Elephant, the top Scout award in the continent, for his continued support of the growth and development of the Scout Movement.

The award was presented on April 23 by the Vice Chairman of the Africa Scout Committee, Nkwenkwe Nkomo, who is also the Chief Scout of South Africa.

"The welfare of young people is very close to Mandela's heart. Although he never wanted places and things named after him, a significant and very telling testimony of his love for young people is the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, established when he pledged one third of his salary for five years to help young people in South Africa," said Kinuthia Murugu, Director of the Africa Scout Region, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

Speaking as the Patron of the South African Scout Association, Mandela praised the progress that the Scout Movement is making as a world leader in youth education. He said: "The importance of a high moral code, which is at the foundation of the Scout Movement, cannot be stressed too highly."

The Scout Movement is in the forefront in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa, especially among young people who comprise the majority in the population. This is an issue for which Mr. Mandela has also vowed to commit his life. Recently, while receiving an award for humanity from the British Red Cross, Mandela said; "I am now devoting my life to fight AIDS in Africa, especially with young people." The award was presented to him by the then Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, Dr. Jacques Moreillon, in his capacity as a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Scout Movement is the world's largest educational youth movement with more that 28 million Scouts, youth and adults, in 216 countries and territories. The mission of Scouting is to contribute to the education of young people, through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law, to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society.

The full text of the citation follows:

CITATION FOR THE AWARD OFTHE AFRICA ELEPHANT AWARD BY THE AFRICA SCOUT COMMITTEE TO DR. NELSON MANDELA

His Excellency retired President Nelson Mandela was born and grew up in the province of Transkei in rural South Africa. From his first day at school he valued education and recognised in it the vehicle for the advancement of the people of Africa. Despite interruptions to his education caused by his standing up for his principles whilst at Fort Hare University, Dr. Mandela was able to continue his studies through other means and over many years, at times under the very difficult conditions of prison life. Scouting, which is a form of non-formal education, understands and recognises this commitment.

Dr. Mandela has had an enduring belief in the youth and has always promoted the development of young people. In 1943, he and a group of other visionary freedom fighters launched the ANC Youth League as a way of bringing youthful dynamism to the freedom struggle. The empowerment and involvement of young people is central to Scouting and is now the number one strategic priority of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

But more than anything else, Dr. Mandela will always be best known and remembered for his epic struggle against apartheid and his central role in creating a new South Africa where people of all races can live as equals. Despite great hardships ,harassment and being imprisoned for 27 years, he remained steadfast and true to his believes. His determination, perseverance, courage and self-sacrifice for the good of other people are qualities that all Scouts should emulate as they endeavour to live in accordance with the Scout Law and Promise.

In 1977, the South Africa Scout Association took the courageous and unprecedented step of defying a cruel and unjust system and opened its doors to all young South Africans in a single united Association. Upon becoming President of South Africa in1994, Dr. Mandela recognised this pioneering role of Scouting in integrating South African society when he accepted to become the Association's Patron.

Under his patronage, the Scout movement has made tremendous progress and is today the largest youth organisation in South Africa. In 1999, the Scout Association played host to the world when the 35th World Scout Conference was held in Durban. Today, South African Scouting is at the fore front of the campaign against HIV/AIDS, empowering young people to say no to unsafe sex and drugs whilst equipping them with values and life skills that will make them self reliant, supportive, responsible and committed persons able and willing to contribute to the building of a dynamic and democratic South African nation.

In recognition of his commitment to the dignity and freedom of all people, his supportfor the development of young people and their education, and his contribution to the growth of Scouting in South Africa and beyond, Dr. Nelson Mandela is hereby awarded the AFRICA ELEPHANT AWARD, the highest and only Award given by the Africa Scout Committee.

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