Being in my forties, I had the opportunity to see the worst of the apartheid era, the dawn of the new era and the shambles of today. As a result, I feel qualified enough to have an opinion on issues that relate to freedom of the people.
Mandela’s quest for freedom of the people, which came at a price generally understated, was realized the day we all stood in queues to usher a new era. What strikes me as odd though is that most of our previously oppressed have a solid belief that Mandela fought only for their freedom. What they do not realize is that he actually fought for freedom for all, regardless of color or creed. This for me is shackles in the minds of the masses; unless the masses break out of those shackles, they render themselves vulnerable to those political vultures that will feed off their insecurities.
Mandela’s quest for freedom became a legacy for us as South Africans once political freedom was achieved in 1994. This is one of the reasons why he retired from politics when he realized that his duty to free the people has been realized. This is why his quest became a legacy, because it then became a matter of ensuring that we do not regress and revert to what it used to be. I for one, was glad when he retired because then, I hoped that the quest for economic freedom would be led by people with a vision for the future. Alas, how wrong I was!
My issue with Mandela’s legacy, is that, for some it is associated with a political party, even though the man’s stature grew beyond a political party. Yes, he might have grown within the party but that did not render him exclusive to the party. The man himself, did not regard himself as an exclusive to the party in his actions or his words. Yes, he professed his duty to the party, but he never rendered himself exclusive to the party; actually, in most cases, he did and said things that left the party reeling because they were ideals outside the party’s framework.
My second issue with Mandela’s legacy is it’s persistence in the minds of the majority. I have been a witness to many election campaigns in this country. In most of the discussions I endured with the people on the ground, they indicated unhappiness with the way service was delivered and the country was run; but most of these people would not vote for another party because they felt like they would be betraying Mandela’s legacy. Our people do not understand that Mandela’s legacy was and always will be for freedom of the people, not for a political party to lead. The ANC is milking this for what it’s worth, but the tables are levelled now.
I have been a party to many discussions at grassroots where once the name Mandela was invoked, the ANC’s argument was home safe; even if the discussion could have led to a better outcome for the people. It is this false sense of loyalty to the Mandela name (and inherently to the party) that I have a problem with. The ANC might not readily admit to it, but the Mandela name brought the party lots of easy votes at grassroots level. Being a black person, I am close to the cultural ties the people had to Mandela, especially when the man was still alive. Being revered so much by the world, most have no understanding how deep that reverence the name has at grassroots level.
Fortunately, our culture as black people, allows us to challenge and align ideals of an elder, once they have passed on.
Now that the man is no more, his legacy will take a different dimension because the association of party to the name Mandela is now shattered in the physical sense. It is now a matter of time, and a little bit of effort by other political parties, to ensure that this association remains broken. The false sense of loyalty the people had to the party that was associated to the name Mandela is now open for the acid test and I know that it will fail. I know that it is going to be possible now, for other political parties to convince people on the ground that voting for another party is not betraying Mandela’s legacy but a reinforcement of such a legacy because the current ruling party is trampling it through poor service delivery, apathy and corruption.
In a sense, the current shambles in the party are making it easy for the votes to swing the other way. I say it’s about time.
I have no issue with the man’s legacy; I agree that he deserves all the ‘glory’ bestowed upon his name and more. He deserves more monuments (please build new ones and not rename old ones, dear ANC). However, I have an issue with the vulnerability rendered upon his legacy by selfish and pretentious political leaders that are in this for self-enrichment above anything else.
For me, the man’s death means that now the masses will see the light and realize that our political freedom is entrenched and has a very low risk of being eroded by any party that comes into government regardless of race of the leadership. His death means that people will start realizing and challenging it, when political leaders are using his name in vain, for personal gain. His death means that the quest for economic freedom can start to intensify.
Mandela’s death will help the masses realize that our freedom is still standing, even with him gone, therefore it is safe to level the playing fields politically speaking. His death will free the people from the false sense of loyalty to the party and this will help the people to ask the question of “what did you do for me in the past 5 years when you had my vote, before I give it to you again?” His death gives the people the power to question and challenge mediocrity. That is real freedom.
Political freedom can only be supported through economic freedom (jobs, service delivery, low unemployment etc.). Political freedom alone cannot ensure that our people remain happy. I say it is time the masses start realizing that the ANC is not able to provide us with economic freedom.
By the way, I am not a member to one particular young party that has been throwing this term around freely lately. I wouldn’t even dream of voting them into power. God forbid that I do that.
The ordinary people of this country are now really and truly free from the past; thanks to Mandela’s death. As we say in Sotho “lefu la hae le ya mphedisa”, loosely translated it means “his death provides me with a better opportunity”. I applaud this new opportunity for my people.
Rest in peace Tata Mandela………………………………………………………
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.