President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled inscriptions of the country's constitutional values at Parliament to officially mark the end of centenary celebrations in honour of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu on Tuesday.
Joined by dignitaries, parliamentarians and representatives of the Sisulu and Mandela families, Ramaphosa said the values "defined the great national endeavour of the last quarter century, inspiring our people, guiding our actions, setting our destination".
He added that the inscriptions were not mere adornments. Instead, they were a constant reminder of the ideals of the democratic and more humane society that South Africa was still in the process of constructing.
Speaking to the guests and members of the media, Ramaphosa remarked on the symbolic importance of the inscriptions on the steps.
He said "the citizens of this country - and their representatives - who pass through these doors will be reminded of the fundamental principles upon which our society is founded".
He continued that this reminder should serve to inspire reflection on "whether our daily actions advance or betray the cause of freedom and democracy".
'W e have to etch these values on our collective conscience'
Speaking about the significance of the timing of this unveiling, Ramaphosa noted that "the human rights we celebrate on the 21st of March cannot have meaning without the values and principles inscribed on these steps".
Referring to the inscribed values individually, Ramaphosa asked: "Are we contributing, each of us in our own way, to forging a society characterised by equality and diversity, unity and reconciliation? Are we building institutions that promote openness and participation, oversight and accountability? Are we pursuing a national programme that advances reconstruction and development?"
With the unveiling representing the end of the celebrations of the centenaries of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, Ramaphosa said that "there are few South Africans who have embodied the values reflected here with such consistency and integrity as they did".
He continued that "to immortalise Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and many of their generation, we have to etch these values on our collective conscience to push the frontiers of human fulfilment and of human freedoms".