‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion.’
Heard this quote before?
Mandela, when he took the presidency of South Africa in 1994, with the first fully representative democratic elections in the country post-apartheid had one message for all his people ‘Reconciliation starts here. Together we need to build this great nation of South Africa.’
Solidarity irrespective of race, colour and background was his mantra to make South Africa a beacon of shining light on the global stage.
And didn’t he do a good job, by being every South African’s president from 1994 all the way to 1999?
At the end of apartheid, there was immense fear and uncertainty among the minorities especially the whites of being alienated, with the first black President coming in power, based on the hardships the black population had to endure under apartheid and this was his time for revenge.
Well, for Madiba it wasn’t.
It was the time for forgiveness, the time for unity, and one of his first acts as President was to retain the green and gold of the Springboks (South Africa’s rugby team) which was the pride of the white Afrikaner.
What’s more, with this confidence boost, the Springboks contested and won the home Rugby World Cup in 1995, the site of Madiba handing the trophy to the Springbok captain, Francois Pienaar was priceless, a true demonstration of the rainbow nation known as South Africa.
Truth be told, Madiba’s belief of sport having the power to unite a nation gave a new meaning to every South African and people around the world.
Invictus, the movie by Clint Eastwood is a classic representation of how Mandela built this beautiful nation of South Africa.
Today after 26 years of independence, South Africa, unfortunately, isn’t really the rainbow nation that Madiba had envisioned.
There are farm murders, rape, crime and high levels of mistrust among the different races in the country.
The COVID lockdown hasn’t helped either, with an already fragile economy going further south.
Personally, for me, Madiba from the heavens is shedding a tear or two looking at the state of his once beautiful country.
Today is Mandela Day, his 102nd birth anniversary where every South African does a good act for 67 minutes representing the 67 years of struggle the great man had to endure to make his nation free and prosperous.
Wouldn’t Madiba be happy, if today every South African stood in unity and helped their brothers and sisters irrespective of race, colour and background?
Forget the mistrust and ills of the past and make this nation great again, together!
Solidarity, which this man stood for means togetherness and can only come from trust.
The trust to work together, in unity and harmony.
To conclude, I would quote the last line from the old Victorian poem, Invictus that gave Madiba the courage and determination to do better during his time at Robben Island ‘I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul’
This means self-determination which is every body’s right and Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela always stood for self-determination.
Happy 102ndbirth anniversary to the father of South Africa and the champion of humanity.