Nelson Mandela, the spiritual leader of South Africa and for millions around the world, has left a legacy unmatched by anyone in modern times. He left a moral legacy that will guide generations of people.
There will be calls for Mandela to be declared a saint, but he was no saint and never aspired to be. He was a man of the people; one of us who rose above the anger and violence created by apartheid and became a guiding light that led the country to a moral high ground that few would have imagined possible.
To many he was the man who led the fight that ended apartheid, but he was much more than that. Mandela showed South Africans how the power of love can overcome the seemingly insurmountable and can unite a deeply divided nation to give hope for the future. He will long be remembered for donning the then hated Springbok jersey and inspiring a nation, and motivating the rugby team. That big step into a formerly white-dominated sport was a major statement that South Africans then stood as one nation and that they must pull together for each other. It worked and the following celebrations after the team won the rugby world cup was testament to its success.
His forgiveness at that time motivateda nation and showed everyone the way forward out of the darkness. His personal touches at every occasion, his ability to put a smile on every face that he came in contact with and his overall statesmanship will endure and motivate through time.
The country as a whole will greatly miss his presence and with his passing change will happen. Politicians will miss their mentor and, as the period of mourning passes, their recent activity, or lack of it, will be called into question. They will be asked why there is still so much poverty in the land of apparent plenty; why is there still discrimination in the land of the free. And most of all they will be asked why they have slipped off the path that the great man showed them and led them along.
It is questions that they will have to ask themselves and they had better find some answers. For the general election is fast approaching and it comes ata timeof deep dissatisfaction with governance in general and specifically with alleged corruption in high places.
Now we should be celebrating the life of Mandela, not mourning his passing. It is the responsibility of everyone to keep his dream alive. As President Jacob Zuma said: “Let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that Madiba personified.”
Since the beginning of Mandela’s presidency life has certainly improved for many, but recently it has become apparent that there is much work to be done beyond personal aggrandisement. Somewhere we seem to have deviated off the path to prosperity. The nation, and thelegacy of Nelson Mandela, demands that we rid ourselves of deadwood that has held us back and make our way forward once again, morally, economically and spiritually.
What we need now is another inspirational leader. Stand up and be counted, wherever you are.
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