on January 5, 2006
One of the major attractions of Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa, is the Union Buildings. The Union Buildings are where the government and the president of South Africa do whatever they have and need to do; Parliament is seated in Cape Town.The Union Buildings, situated on Meintjies Kop and surrounded by a magnificent garden and different monuments, were built in the early 20th century. The construction of the buildings started in 1910, and apparently it took over 1,200 workers, more than 3 years, and more than 1.3 million English pounds to complete the project in 1913. The Union Buildings were the setting of one of the most important chapters of recent South African history: the inauguration of president Nelson Mandela in May 1994. Here he spoke the legendary words, words that give me goosebumps and move me every time I read or hear them:"We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free. Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward....We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom. We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign." Standing at the foot of The Union Buildings, seeing the South African flag waving in the wind, I could almost hear Madiba’s powerful words. Once again, I realized that it was only 11 years ago when the new South Africa was born. A lot has been accomplished so far, and a lot still has to be done. But like Mandela said: It is no easy road. I am sure South Africa will make it in the end. The country, and its people, deserve it.
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