Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma says "phenomenal strides" have been made in the past 18 years in promoting national unity and reconciliation among South Africans.
"We have this year dedicated time to build monuments and memorials and to rename significant geographical features to pay tribute to men and women who paid the supreme sacrifice for our freedom," Zuma said in his message for the National Day of Reconciliation.
The holiday came into effect in 1994 after the end of apartheid, with the intention of fostering reconciliation and national unity.
"But we know that we should do more than that to achieve true reconciliation. We need to bridge the inequalities, intensify the fight against poverty, combat crime and drug abuse; champion the interest of women, children and people with disability and combat all forms of racist, tribal and xenophobic tendencies," Zuma said.
He urged South Africans to use national days to embark upon programmes that demonstrate that they were united in their diversity.
South Africans also needed to embrace the values of Ubuntu which included human solidarity, generosity, hospitability, friendliness, caring, compassion, harmony, forgiveness and neighbourliness.
This was a responsibility of all South Africans, not just government, Zuma said.