Africa does not need leaders "who are 75 or 65 years old," but a leadership that is young‚ vibrant and innovative, said former first lady Graça Machel on Saturday.
Speaking at the African Leadership Academy (ALA) ten-year celebration in Johannesburg, Machel called on emerging young talent on the continent to remain committed to the cause for development in Africa, according to TimesLive.
"Our youth must grasp the opportunity to lead. You must continuously check yourself to see that you are still committed to your values which make you want to be a leader."
In light of the continent's large youth population, she said Africans are looking for leaders with whom they can relate and who they believe will be "honourable and committed, especially to the public service".
"Our young leaders need to stand up and be counted. They need to embrace the knowledge of their elders ‚ stand on their shoulders‚ and take up the challenge of leadership.
"We need our women‚ our mothers‚ our sisters to be treated with dignity and respect they deserve‚ regardless of their age.
Machel stressed leadership requires working for the collective rather than purely for self-interest.
"The road will be long‚ it will be difficult‚ but they must have the courage to make the choices and sacrifices needed to serve. It can no longer be 'I'. That is not what leadership or Africa is about. Our continent is about its people‚ the 'we'‚ the collective.
She also stressed the importance of women and young people in redefining and developing the continent, according to TimesLive.
"We need our women‚ our mothers‚ our sisters to be treated with dignity and respect they deserve‚ regardless of their age," she said.
"For far too long‚ women have simply been seen as 'she' and inferior. Even with my age and the positions I have held‚ I have experienced this."
The widow of late former president Nelson Mandela added that young people must "take action and ownership of their future rules" as leaders.