Pretoria, June 1 (IANS) South African President Jacob Zuma has praised Hindus in the country for their role in the freedom struggle.
"Many South Africans of Indian origin and specifically Hindus, played a prominent part in our struggle for freedom and are still playing a meaningful role in the social, economic and political reconstruction of this country," he said.
South African Indians constitute 1.28 million of the country's total population, of which over 60 percent are Hindus, the state-run BuaNews reported.
Zuma said people of Indian origin were an integral part of South African society and "added to the colourful rainbow nation that made us proud South Africans".
He said he was inspired by the strong values, which include accountability, selfless service, fairness, respect and unity that guided the activities of the Hindu Maha Sabha.
"These are values that we all believe in, and which promote peace and good neighbourliness... that fits in well with the goals of government, of promoting social cohesion," Zuma said at the centenary gala dinner of the Maha Sabha in Durban Saturday.
The president also reminded the nation of the need to preserve cultural organisations and respective cultures. "We cannot produce a new generation that is not grounded in indigenous culture as they will be confused and be alienated from their roots."
"Let us encourage the Hindu youth for example to learn Indian languages so as to be in touch with their culture and traditions.
"That will not make them less South African. Instead, they will add to the rainbow mix and make this a more colourful country when it comes to languages as well," said Zuma.