Nelson Mandela’s Rainbow Nation

2014-05-16 18:28

Zareef Minty: Nelson Mandela's Rainbow Nation

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, his background or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

Twenty years of democracy, wow! The struggles of apartheid and all its negativity is almost forgotten, thanks to one man and his movement. The African National Congress has done so much for us so that today in 2014 we can sit in a lecture room with people from different races, different classes that possess different qualities or characteristics and learn the same course material towards a better education as one entity. Nelson Mandela was a great man, his legacy will live on forever globally not because of his political moves but because throughout all of it he did everything with a good heart and a great soul. Nelson Mandela’s idea of a rainbow nation goes far beyond what we currently experiencing in South Africa, where underlying racism is something that will disappear out of the hearts of the citizens of this beautiful country; where we do not look at race or the power of a man but his integrity and performance towards taking South Africa forward when electing the ruling party and the President of the Republic. Nelson Mandela encouraged youth development and youth involvement, I honestly believe that South Africa can only move forward if young people continue with the legacy of Mandela, where we as the youth of this country become leaders and take initiative in educating and motivating our peers, we as young people need to look at socio economic issues and find solutions to them where the masses can contribute to improve the very country that they wake up to daily.

The Rainbow Nation as a spoken metaphor for South African unity is uniquely represented by the South African flag, which sports 6 different colours. The idea behind it is to accommodate for every race and religion, every culture and tradition so that we can all live in harmony in our wonderful country. “Rainbowism” is a term in South Africa where analysts believe that domestic issues like crime, racism and the likes are being sugar coated by this term of a rainbow nation but I have to disagree. This term that Mandela has illuminated into our minds is one that encourages positive action and goodwill. I really feel Nelsons idea of a rainbow nation goes far beyond just equality on a social, political and constitutional level but also to allow the citizens of the country financial freedom, where a striving economy becomes necessary. We need to see an economy where our Rand becomes stronger to the Dollar, Euro and Pound. We also need to see national enrichment of the citizens instead of just a few well connected individuals.

The term rainbow nation was actually coined by Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu which captures the extraordinary diversity of races, tribes, creeds, languages and landscape that characterises modern South Africa. This idea of a rainbow nation meant reconciling the inequalities of the past so that our beautiful diverse country and its citizens can succeed nationally and globally.

As a young person, it really brings me great joy when I see someone engage with others, not as someone speaking to coloured people, black people, white people or Indian people but just as people. We need to continue the great work Nelson has done for our country, this country is very diverse, and having eleven official languages, having a number of different cultures and traditions that come together is something special.

For nearly 350 years South Africa history was declined by clashes and racial oppression. But that changed with the first democratic elections of 27 April 1994 when all truly became people of the Rainbow Nation. Complete democracy is one of the pinnacles of Mandela rainbow nation where issues of generational wealth is relieved, where a black person in our country can sit down next to a white person for example and  have the privilege of educating himself without the restraints of financial assistance and having to pay back that amount once he or she graduates. Where family wealth is there to encourage entrepreneurship opportunities and indirectly create job opportunities. Sitting and thinking about this essay topic, even the term rainbow nation says so much, we need to understand that in order to see the sun and grow our country to the heights it deserves to reach we need to go through some radical changes, we need to face the rain and survive it, only after such a transformation can we take South Africa forward.

South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world; we have the commercial hub of Africa in Johannesburg and one of the best if not the best tourist locations in the world which is Cape Town, we have world class sports infrastructure after the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, we have the highest capacity stadium in the whole of Africa with a soccer stadium holding 94700 people in Soccer City, we have world class cricket and rugby teams that compete with the best of the best. We have precious minerals growing under our feet, we have a country that avoided a civil war when apartheid was overcome, and we have a country where most of its population come 2020 will be young people under 35. I am extremely pleased that Nelson under the African National Congress implemented the BEE concept, even though it has only uplifted the lives of a very few individuals that are well connected and not even close to the majority of black South Africans but concepts like Affirmative Action, BBBEEE and empowerment equity have done relatively well to readdress the inequalities of the past, we need to see a better BEE system implemented, one that really improves the lives of millions of black, coloured and Indian people that were previously disadvantaged and not just a select few. We as South African citizens and being a young leader, I want to live in the words and actions of Mandela, I want to relive those words and actions to the masses and prove to society and the world that even after the death of Nelson, we are a country that can grow within his legacy.

It really is humbling to know that we are seen as the superstar country of Africa, after reading up on Mandela’s life and his political movements, it was evident that all his plans and positive actions were not only to improve our country but to influence Africa as a whole. That is why during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup we saw South African fans support Ghana as if it was their own. It is funny to say this but Mandela did that.

It takes so much from a man to spend years and years imprisoned under apartheid policies and then later to be released becoming better than he was before it happened. Not to let anger and revenge fill his heart but instead filling that same heart with love and forgiveness. Now we as South Africans need to educate ourselves, we need to engage on a higher level of discussions. Because only though education can we move towards Nelsons perfect idea of a rainbow nation. When people understand that no matter what race, gender, culture or religion you belong to, we all are equal and we all need to live within the opportunities of this country. s rainbow nation has failed looking at this elections, where the majority of black people voted for the African National Congress while the majority of white people have voted for the Democratic Alliance but I have to disagree, we are twenty years into democracy, I can see the progress of this idea of a rainbow nation where the Democratic Alliance has gained over 700 000 black voters, that is very impressive.

Mandela’s rainbow nation needs to shine above other third world countries; it needs to shine over the superpowers like America but we cannot compete with America globally until our structures are strengthened, we need a stronger standard of leadership in South Africa where we can compare our leaders to the likes of Obama, we need to actively look at ways to reduce the unemployment rate especially among young people, we need to industrialise our more undeveloped industries and actively spend on improving these industries so that we don’t have to buy products or receive services from outside of South African shores, we need to remove such heavy sanctions and tax implications on our traders so that they can compete on the global market without being undermined by the cheaper Chinese alternative. We need to improve housing and healthcare through public and private partnerships where our citizens get the best medical assistance at the cheapest price. We need a booming economy that allows for young people to get their loan applications approved so that they can start their businesses and move one step closer to their dreams, we need this, and we need a low interest rate from banks as well.

As we walk pass the Union Building in Pretoria we walk pass a monument of a great man, a man that has changed the lives of millions of people nationally and internationally. A man who said it was enough, that such an inequality needed to end. That South Africa deserves to be free and enjoy its liberation from apartheid, it deserves to enjoy freedom of movement so that South Africans can sit wherever they please, relieve themselves wherever they feel necessary without seeing a “non-blacks only” poster above the bathroom door and open up a business without being declined for being black, Nelson Mandela took us out of a struggle. It is about time that we build on his achievements, it is about time that we stand up and be accountable as citizens, we need to understand that his rainbow nation was not just about equality when it comes to a constitutional basis but equality in every aspect of life. He pictured a democracy and a rainbow nation that was never restricted to his influence but to expect a rainbow nation that continues in his legacy.  Thank you Mr Nelson Mandela for everything you have done for us, thank you for giving me this opportunity today to speak about your legacy and know that I have the opportunity to become someone extremely prominent in our beloved country, thank you for giving the millions of young black, white, coloured and Indian children an education and hope of a better South Africa. Thank you for standing up against the apartheid forces and beating it, after 20 years of democracy we can stop and applaud the hard work you and your political party did to get us to where we are today, looking towards the next 20 years of democracy I am very excited at the prospects of this country, I look at this country on a line graph and in my mind I just see it going up and up, with tremendous moves in improving our economy and strengthening youth development and involvement even at a parliamentary level, your message has inspired many like me to do whatever we can to improve our Africa.

This is our South Africa and this is our rainbow nation, long life the legacy of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela long live!

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