I met Madiba for the first time in 1993 when he stayed over at our house. The experience was incredible and, even though I was young at the time, I remember every moment of the two days. He spoke to each of us individually and shared many insights.
We travelled with him to the stadium where a capacity crowd danced to PJ Powers singing “Now is the time” and then erupted as Madiba came on stage. We only got back home at 12:30 from the concert yet Madiba was up at 4 am the next morning, in his tracksuit for his morning exercise walk through the neighbourhood. A defining moment in my life.
As we mourn and also celebrate the incredible life of Madiba and the many gifts he left us with, and as we see this nation uniting during this painful period the question remains as to how we utilise the values that Madiba taught us to move forward.
When we wake up in January we will still have massive unemployment and inequality. We will still have a society reeling from repeated attacks on the most vulnerable in our society – women, children and the elderly. We will still have an education system fraught with challenges. How do we rally all 51 million South Africans to utilise this spirit and unity and assist in contributing to the future of this country?
We often forget that Nelson Mandela was also a child of our soil growing up in the Eastern Cape in very difficult conditions. The iconic Nelson Mandela was nurtured, and developed in the very same land that today gives birth to the born free generation and that gave birth to all of us.
Are we as a country doing enough to nurture and develop the future Nelson Mandela’s or OR Tambo’s or Helen Suzman’s or Ahmed Kathrada’s. Can we honestly say that we are doing enough for the village child in Mveso, or the young boy running through the streets of Kanyamazane, or the young girl growing up in Athlone. Are we truly living the values of Madiba?
Madiba said that "Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation." It’s time to live the values of Madiba everyday, time to roll up our sleeves and for every single South African to make a contribution. As we yearn for more of that “Madiba Magic” I actually think that its there. He has left a part of it in every one of us. I am reminded of the words of Howard Zinn “We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” There are 51 million of us.
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Nelson Mandela - 18 May 2002
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