This week is undoubtedly one that South Africans and the world will remember for years to come. A great tree has fallen yet its shadow will forever linger over a country and people who are thankful for many years of Dr Nelson Mandela’s service. As a 27 year old South African man enjoying the benefits of many years of sacrifice by Tata and those of his generation, I couldn’t help but reflect on what his life stood for. What could I as a young South African and global citizen take out of this story of struggle and victory? When the tears have dried and all the hyms have been sung, what will change in the way I live my life?
My respect for Mandela is not based on the idea of the man but the reality of his mortality. For me his greatness is more so because he was a flawed man, fallible in many respects but with that still he was able to do what he managed to do; to inspire a country to overcome such grave odds. In my reflections over the last couple of days, I couldn’t help but go back to the now famous speech he made from the doc at his trial. One line in particular stood out for me “…this is an ideal I have lived for and if need be, this is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Nelson Mandela lived a purposeful life, he committed his entire existence to one cause with unflinching determination to see it realised. A dream that once realised would leave the world a better place. Yes he gained iconic status from this endeavour but the primary motivation had more to do with making the world a better place.
I believe we live in what I call a “me economy” where most of us are concerned about what is in it for us. What do I get out of it? As an entrepreneur myself, that is in part engrained into how I think. But Mandela’s life is a challenge to me and you. It is a challenge for us to ask what it is that we are willing to live and die for, and once accomplished, how will the world be better. We were all called for a very specific task in our time here, and I can only believe that each our purposes were meant to leave the world a better place. Here’s to finding yours, living by it and leaving your own positive footprint on the sands of time. There has never been a better time to be South African, there has never been a better time to be African, there has never been a better time to be who we are and this is all do to the sacrifices made by the likes of Mandela. Let us answer the call to greatness and live lives worth mourning.
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