The passing on of uTata Mandela has again served as poignant reminder that deeply inherent in us as South Africans is our untapped capacity to unite beyond racial lines.
From the time when the news of Madiba’s passing broke to the week of his memorial, the public viewing of his remains as he lay in state and the subsequent burial there was such brotherlyness among South Africans in particular. People from all walks of life embraced. We seem to have been united behind one common denominator – the loss of a man we all claimed to be our father, hero and icon.
The passing on of Madiba brought back glimpses of the kind of rainbow nation South Africa can become. The images seen on many media platforms were reminiscent of the scenes during the 1995 Rugby World Cup and recently when hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup. However, as this incidents have proven, as soon as the catalytic event passes we default back to reality.
The reality, as American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson put it while reflecting on Madiba’s legacy in an interview this past week, is that, South Africa has successfully gone from apartheid to freedom an now must transition to attain equality.
Pursuing economic freedom and equality must characterise the next phase of our democracy. It will be difficult to foster long-lasting an meaningful reconciliation without addressing the glaring inequalities and economic exclusions still affecting the majority of South Africans.
Former President Thabo Mbeki earlier said that in order for our freedom to transcend being reduced to “consists in our ability to drink tea together” when in reality we are not standing on equal ground our national reconciliation needs to be entrenched by eradicating poverty.
As we reflect on this day of reconciliation (December 16) we perhaps need to ask ourselves how as individuals and as a collective are we contributing towards narrowing the growing inequality in society? In what practical way can we make an effort towards genuine reconciliation beyond the commemorative events that often only help us to build makeshift bridges that get eroded past the events?
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