Who are the real sellouts?
What are your thoughts about Madiba’s legacy?
Do you consider him to be a sellout?
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your name because it threatens to rewrite history. No greater injustice can be committed than to deny future generations the right to learn about their true history – a weapon needed for their own liberation.”
But at the heart of her article, Malaika cautions against the cult of personality and deification of leaders. When such deification occurs, even political parties can deify their own leaders to the extent that they abrogate their responsibility to hold those leaders to account.
When a senior citizen, a leader of the stature of a head of state, is perceived not to abide by the requirements of state institutions he is bound by law to protect and advance, and thus by his own actions undermines the Constitution and the rule of law, is it Mandela who taught him to cut the vital transmission of high value to future generations?
Do such actions not lead to the despair of the young and the disappointment and deep sense of betrayal among those who have walked the difficult journey up to this point?
It needs to be stated that the Constitution, reconstructive policies, radical legislation, and a host of institutions of democracy diligently put in place in the first 10 years of our democracy represent collectively a radical edifice of hope and aspiration. They are not to be trifled with at our whims.
Indeed, it is not the institutions or Madiba that have failed us, but our human capacity to achieve the solemn goals for which the institutions were created, whenever we fail to abide by legally and morally constituted norms.
It is our rededication to the solemn aspirations of 1994 that will help us get beyond the invidious moment in which all of us South Africans are still trapped – in a present with deep roots in the past, in which some of us perceive ourselves to be trapped in the impersonal logic of what we own, despite our best intentions, while others are trapped in the logic of what has been kept away from them, despite their best aspirations.
If there are any “sellouts” in South Africa and everywhere in the world, they are the ones who have stopped dreaming. Stopped working. Stopped elevating the needs of the wretched of the earth above their own need for power, privilege and self-enrichment. Stopped walking the journey whose historic prospects energise at the same time as they may seem daunting.
It is about this walk that Madiba said: “The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road … The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
Professor Ndebele is chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation
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