Posts Tagged ‘madiba’

Goodbye Madiba – one South African’s tribute

December 6, 2013

It could have been so different…

But for the angelic force of one individual I, and millions of other South Africans, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, will never have to imagine how it could have been.

Barack Obama could not have summed him up better “For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived.”

For if there was no Nelson Mandela – what might there have been?

I am a white South African:  too young to remember the harshness of apartheid, old enough to live through the democratic change, and astute enough to appreciate the miracle witnessed as the subsequent years unfolded. And what a miracle it was.

My voice is but one of the countless South Africans who claim to have this mystical bond with Madiba. We did not get to meet Mandela, we did not get to speak with him, but yet we all feel this incredible connection to him. So much so that we all truly believe that each and every one of us sense that he, in some paternal way, was a spiritual father and tata to us all.  Its an unexplainable sensation. One only a South African will know.Nelson+Mandela+NelsonMandela5 (1)

As one correspondent described on CNN earlier, that when he visited South Africa in its infancy years as a young democracy, he not only had he sensed the spirit of Mandela, but the unyielding spirit of the people. All of the people. And that is the greatest tribute that Mandela will leave to his children – each and every citizen of South Africa. He showed us how. And lived by example.

Having been privileged enough to live and travel outside my home country, I am constantly reminded that if ever there was a citizen of the world who evokes warmth and smiles from another (foreign) persons face it is when you answer to them when they ask you where you are from “I am South African.” I can only think that when others hear those words coming from our mouths they see a living symbol for positive change – that from the darkest days of apartheid rose a country so proud, so free and so colourful that every person around the world can, in that one moment, dare to dream that anything is possible. We are all living proof to the world that anything, ANYTHING, is possible.

It is currently a time when the patience of all South Africans is being severely tested, as we are all frustrated that the principles and values of not only Mandela, but the forefathers of the ANC, are seemingly being forgotten by our current leaders. But it is a time for our resolve and that unyielding spirit to ensure that these bumps being experienced on our young road of democracy will be overcome.

And even though, it is a sad time, a poignant time for all South Africans, it is a time to celebrate Madiba – all 95 years of him – and to remember his message of love and peace and a truly unified South Africa. Let us not forget that most important lesson.

It could have been so different.

But it was not.

And for that… Madiba… this ‘one’ South African is truly thankful.

Rest in peace.

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Madiba’s birthday should be celebrated every day

July 19, 2012

Driving to work today my mind reflected back to 18 July 2010. I recall this date as the first time the concept of Madiba Day was sold to the citizens of South Africa as a day in which people should donate 67 minutes of their time or resources to helping a less fortunate fellow citizen.

We all got caught up in this force of generosity. One clear memory I have was noticing motorists giving ‘gift’ bundles (mostly winter warmers such as blankets) to the street beggars at the corner of Oxford Street and Glenhove road in Rosebank. Both motorist and beggar gave and received graciously and with smiles on their faces. On any other day of the year, especially at this rather large intersection, the motorist would be most bothered and react rudely to the beggars insistent invasion of the motorists personal space.

On 18 July 2010, all across the country, there was a genuine warmth, respect and gees (spirit) emitted by the citizens of South Africa towards each other. It was energising and empowering! I myself joined a group of friends in donating food to a homeless shelter in Johannesburg. The food would last probably a week, maybe a couple of days. But the longevity didn’t matter, it was the thought that counted. Our 67 minutes. And it felt great!

There was a twist though… Madiba Day of 2010 was celebrated exactly one week after the world cup 2010 soccer final in Johannesburg. National pride was at an all time high as the world came and the world saw, but it was OUR country who most definitely conquered. We conquered the initial perception by the world that South Africa would be incapable of hosting a crime-free first class event. And the nation, together as ONE, including the government and importantly the public services sector (read: law and order), the private sector and most importantly the people of South Africa, all rallied together to create probably the most memorable World Cup ever. Quite an achievement considering it is the world’s largest sporting event.

So it was easy to keep the spirit flowing of the World Cup into Madiba Day that year. We were ALL proud, we were all energetic, and most importantly we were all hopeful that the country had finally proved to the world, and more importantly, to itself, that it was most capable. We had turned a corner.

And then it all came to a screeching halt! Since those glorious few weeks, in which the problems we did face were challenged and contained, we have been bombarded, daily, with negative news and sentiment: The incessant fraud, corruption and maladministration from the highest levels in government right down to our local MEC’s. The constant back stabbing and infighting in the ANC, with ‘leaders’ more concerned in maintaining their status quo, rather than in ensuring that the children in Limpopo got their text books. The worrying increase in racial disharmony fuelled by populist and socialist politicians and aggravated by the tiresome recycling of the ‘race card’, the toll roads, the metro cops, the police brutality… Not a day goes by without some scandal making headlines.

There are multiple, and sometimes complex, contributing factors. However, I believe that one of the single biggest causes to the negativity is the seeming lack of respect and simple courtesy we have for each other and for due process. An general attitude of “I don’t care, I will do what I want”. Respect for your fellow countryman is what Nelson Mandela habitually preached. He was a man who led, and still continues to lead, by example. A man who lives by the principle of “Do what I do, not do what I say” (unlike current leaders, hey JZ?). And for one day of the year, on Madiba Day, we are ‘tricked’ into acting on Mandela’s principles of respect and harmony. The irony is, we actually want to do it. World Cup 2010 proved that. It showed us what we are capable of when every one of us pulls in the same direction. We will always have the social problems of a developing economy, but imagine if the billions stolen from the now bankrupt Limpopo was properly channelled as it was intended, it would go a long way to improving the lives of many.

Madiba Day provides us with a momentary glimpse of what South Africa could be like everyday if we wanted. Mandela said “One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others”. Madiba would want us to adopt this attitude every day, and not just on the 18th of July. We are certainly most capable of it, to give each other mutual respect. It is really not that hard to do and best of all respect and courtesy costs absolutely nothing.

And this is the greatest gift the children and grandchildren of South Africa can give to their greatest Tata: Let’s celebrate Madiba Day every day!

My 67 minutes are up… Mzansi Fo Sho!


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