18 July 2012 15:52
When one thinks of the great South African leader, Tata Nelson Mandela, images of a smiling, caring grandfather figure playing with children comes to mind, but also the strong leader and ardent anti-apartheid activist, who dedicated his life to a better South Africa and a truly unified non-racist society.
He truly is the father of our nation, someone who every South African no matter their race, religion or social creed can associate with and respect. For me personally he is the glue that binds us as a nation. Coming from a history where racial segregation and discrimination was a reality enforced by Apartheid one would not have expected South Africa to move into democracy as smoothly as we did.
However recent events have shown that Mandelas rainbow nation could be brought to its knees when the Spear painting debuted at the Goodman gallery and the nasty scourge of racism that had been swept under the carpet since the finalisation of the truth and reconciliation commission once again raised its ugly head.
While the painting opened old wounds it also highlighted the need to build on the legacy of Nelson Mandelas vision of a rainbow nation, the rainbow nation that some of us seem to have forgotten. The social-cohesion summit is the first step in this direction but a lot more needs to be done to destroy years of institutionalised racism.
As individuals we should look to this father of our nation and get our inspiration from Madiba. We need to live our everyday lives in his shadow and remember the 27 years he spent in prison and the suffering he endured, only to come out a forgiving man, willing to embrace all South Africans as equals.
Many didnt think it was possible to achieve what South Africa achieved, a revolution without a war.
He did not hold the grudges one would have expected him to, nor did he plot revenge. Im sure few of us can claim to be wronged in the grave way Nelson Mandela was, yet some in our society perpetuate the racial stereotypes and differences fed to us by the Apartheid system, instead of taking the lead from Nelson Mandela, who we all agree is the greatest South African of all time.
I dont believe South Africans are inherently racist by any means, I think in fact most of us are respectful, open-minded and embracing of our different cultures and beliefs. But it just takes a few ugly incidents to fuel or perpetuate what Apartheid tried to instil in us. I recall the incidents earlier this year of young models who made horrid racial slurs on twitter and the incidents of racism that happened at a Johannesburg gym.
However the way the nation reacted to these incidents, labelling them completely unacceptable Im sure made Tata proud. I believe Nelson Mandelas greatest contribution to this country was the lesson of acceptance of our differences. I think the biggest gift we can give to him on his 94th Birthday, is to accept your neighbour as your brother or sister and embrace and accept the differences that make us this beautiful, colourful and vibrant rainbow nation.
Many didnt think it was possible to achieve what South Africa achieved and it is thanks to this great man we celebrate today, and the many who worked with him to ensure peace and democracy.
The President, Jacob Zuma referred to it earlier this month as the South African miracle, and urged South Africans to keep that miracle alive. We all love Madiba, we all respect him, and we are all so grateful for the lessons he has taught us and the South African miracle he has bestowed upon us, in his honour as we celebrate his birthday today we should commit to spend everyday living this legacy and ensuring it continues for our generations to come.
Happy Birthday Tata Madiba.
Troy Martens, ANC Women`s League
Troy Martens is the ANC Women`s Leagues National Spokesperson
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