"You produced a lawyer and we produced a leader out of him". This is how South African President Jacob Zuma described the association of Mahatma Gandhi with his country. Gandhi's thought and ideology greatly influenced the freedom movement there, Zuma said.
"You produced a lawyer and we produced a leader out of him (Gandhi). The South African freedom struggle was greatly influenced by the thoughts and ideologies of Gandhi, the apostle of peace," the visiting president said at a function organised by FICCI in New Delhi.
He described India as the "elder brother" of South Africa and said both the countries stood by each other in the difficult times. "These difficulties helped us understand each other better. We have a history that is unique between the two countries. It is a relation of 150 years and the historic relations will keep on challenging generations to generations as to how to strengthen the ties further," Zuma, who is on his first official tour to India after taking over in May, said.
This year, South Africa will celebrate 150 years of arrivals of Indians there, he said. Seeking to enhance economic ties with India, Zuma said he has brought a huge delegation of businessmen for improving trade relations between the two countries.
Bilateral trade has multiplied manifold over the last decade. While it was 2.5 billion dollars in 2002, it rose to 7.5 billion in 2008-09. Zuma also said he felt it proper to visit India ahead of his country hosting the soccer world cup this year.
"We thought that we should not get into 2010 (football world cup) without coming to India. We thought we should come to India to pay an official visit (before the event). That is why I am here," he said. "We want to grow with each other's help. The elder brother always provides help to younger brother. The elder brother always helped the younger brother at all difficult situations," he said.
Zuma also favoured greater south-south cooperation. He said he felt very much at home in India. Earlier, addressing the function, South African Minister for International Affairs Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said there is huge scope for the two countries to deepen their relations.
On Zuma's "close association" with India, he said in a lighter vein, "he can even differentiate between an Indian curry made in Durban and an Indian curry made in Delhi."