Now we take the baton

2013-12-17 08:46

What now?

We move on. We have to. A beautiful send off, in the form of a memorial-forgetting funeral was the appropriate goodbye to the man who would become the legend.

The unfortunate incident with the interpreter was a reminder that we are not impervious to incidents such as those. Now we have to hold those who were responsible accountable. The bottom line is that it was embarrassing, but nothing happened. No world leaders were attacked by the man who heard voices as he signed like an overzealous spiritual dancer. So what do we do now? We stop dwelling and move on! We make sure it never happens again.

The passing of Mandela has been predictably sad, with more than expected gaffs and road bumps. Oh well, bygones. Yes, bygones. This is my new attitude after speaking to someone about the hypocrisy of world leaders wishing condolences when their actions are not in keeping with the spirit of Mandela. However, he did not hold grudges, so why should we? He was all about extending olive branches, so let us not be bitter.

I recently read a book by Zama Ndlovu called The Bad Black’s Manifesto. In it she speaks of the very attitude that I believe we are now meant to embody more than ever. If you are treated differently because of your skin colour, class, sexual orientation or gender, then why should you not stand up and say “Is it cause I’m black/poor/gay/female, etc.”? When the useless diplomacy failed to work for Madiba, Umkhonto Wesizwe was established, so why should we not be more militant in our attitudes and rhetoric when our leaders fail us?

Obama said it brilliantly when he reiterated what we already knew, that there will never be another like him. It was the perfect sentiment for the rest of us. Yes, he was not perfect. That was spouted enough in the media. We get it. He was, however, pretty damn close to it when compared to the rest of us. So while perfection may have eluded him, it should be there for us to strive for. He probably would have done a lot of things differently. Who wouldn’t? Point is, we have a past to learn from, not to keep looking back to blame.

Despite BooGate, with the now infamous public gauge of disapproval (maybe it will become a standard with the upcoming elections?), I choose to look past all that and see what is not mentioned enough in the media: an unprecedented outpouring of love amongst South Africans.

There has been so much politicking since Madiba passed away, that it’s hard to keep up. There have been a few recurring narratives that stick out for me.

-          Don’t compare JZ to Mandela: Why not? Think of the emotion that stirs in you when you think of either man. This is not a small divide, but a huge gap in which the flaws of #1 are accentuated even more, and if Madiba’s passing serves as a reminder that we have a leader who is morally lacking, then so be it.

-          Stop assuming what he would have said, done or wanted: In this instance, I look at his life and the way he conducted himself at crucial points. I do think it’s fair to assume, based on history, what Madiba would have done. He only used violence when necessary. He was unafraid. Take what you want from it, but I think he would have encouraged militant, revolutionary attitudes, especially amongst the youth, with the intent of reconciliation and respect towards others.

Some say it’s impossible and unfair to deduce what he would have wanted. Not true. I believe that he would have wanted us to move on and continue to be great; to not let injustices slip by the wayside; to speak truth to power; to hold those who have let us down accountable; to help others; to make ourselves, and our nation the best that it could be.

The country will not descend into the raptures. We’ve been through the fire before; the only difference is we now have an enduring voice to call on and quote. The man may have died, but the moral compass is there. Whether we use it is up to us.

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