Conferment of Honorary Doctorate of Humanity to H.E. Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa

Address by Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Dr Limkokwing, Hall of Fame, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Cyberjaya, 27 August 2013
27 August 2013

Let me begin by warmly welcoming His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and Mrs Zuma along with the President’s distinguished delegation of Ministers and Corporate leaders.

I hope the visit has been as productive as you would have wanted and at the same time enjoyable as Malaysia has always been a good friend of South Africa.

Their Excellencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, representatives of various Ministries, members of the University Council, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me now to thank each and everyone of you for being here to join us in this rare and special occasion.

Malaysia and South Africa have a long and warm friendship spanning two decades.

I am indeed, most honoured that His Excellency has made this special journey to this campus endorsing it as a most cherished and historic occasion for all of us here.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This University has a well-established tradition of conferring Honorary Doctorates upon international leaders of great stature.

This is evidenced by the fact that our list of enrolled Honorary Doctorate holders include Dr Nelson Mandela, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Dr Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Dato’ Sri Dr Mohamed Najib Tun Abdul Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, His Royal Highness the Sultan of Pahang and His Majesty King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland.

Today we take pride in recognizing the inspiring leadership of His Excellency President Jacob Zuma with the Honorary Doctorate of Humanity.

On behalf of the University Council and everyone on this campus, may I extend to His Excellency my heartiest congratulations. We are delighted to be given this privilege to honour an outstanding leader.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

South Africa is special to me. It forms one of the most memorable parts of my journey in life.

It was in early 1994 that I first met His Excellency in Johannesburg in South Africa.

My mission there at that time was to lend support to His Excellency Dr Nelson Mandela and the ANC to ensure victory in South Africa’s first ever-free election.

For several months I was there working alongside some of the most extraordinary freedom fighters the world has ever known, and some of the most courageous and charismatic leaders I have ever met.

Apart from His Excellency Nelson Mandela, there were Walter Sisulu and Kathrada, Popo Molefe and Gill Marcus, Thabo Mbeki and Cyril Ramaphosa and, of course, His Excellency Jacob Zuma.

His Excellency, easily one of the most engaging orators and campaigners I have ever met, was already a very popular figure in South Africa at that time.

Huge crowds followed him wherever he spoke. And whenever he turned up, everything else too would go up – the number of people, the sound volume, the energy level, the loud cheering, the booming music, the determination to win and the confidence of victory.

His Excellency is no ordinary leader. Affectionately he is referred to as the People’s President. South Africans love this man.

They love him for his robust energy.

They love him for his optimistic personality.

They love him for the way he stands up for the disadvantaged and under-privileged.

They also love him for his singing ability.

His Excellency is one of those who followed the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, who fought apartheid fearlessly and relentlessly alongside Mandela.

He suffered imprisonment for 10 years in Robben Island, the same prison where Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years of his life.

His Excellency’s rise to become the most influential leader in Africa and one of the most powerful voices in the world has been long and difficult. It has been a truly heroic journey.

To those who know him, His Excellency is a dauntless, gregarious, charming and inspiring individual.

His disarming smile, infectious grin and delightful manner send out positive vibes and indeed, he inspires all those around him.

But behind that charming smile is a leader who embodies steely determination and the resilience to lead one of the world’s most dynamic countries, the Republic of South Africa.

He rallies a nation in search of a brighter future.

He works to unite and transform a nation that had for a longtime suffered enforced segregation and discrimination.

He reaches for people’s better sides, for the truth within them.

He practices leadership-by-inspiration.

He captures the public’s imagination.

He inspires the whole nation.

He knows exactly how to touch their hearts and put a smile on every face.

He is seen as a father figure and personification of the incipient nation’s ideals and aspirations.

Today we acknowledge His Excellency’s vision, and the change he is inspiring in South Africa through transformation of the poorest communities in the country.

Today we confer upon His Excellency the Honorary Doctorate of Humanity.

Here is a short film we have written to pay tribute to this extraordinary person who endured a thousand setbacks on his way to be where he is today.

Your Excellency, may I extend to you once again my heartiest congratulations.