Following in Madiba’s footsteps
THE MOUND on his grave has long since subsided, yet isn’t it extraordinary how, four years after his passing, Nelson Mandela remains a gift that keeps on giving to the nation and the world? For who else could attract some of humanity’s most respected leaders to democratic South Africa’s Mother City to continue his Long Walk to Freedom from the spot where he made his triumphant reappearance in public after 27 years in apartheid jails?
These leaders are grouped in an organisation Madiba formed 10 years ago of eminent persons called The Elders, tasked with helping to resolve conflicts around the world.
Made up of former heads of state, peace activists and human rights advocates, current elders include Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-moon, Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel, Jimmy Carter, Hina Jilani, Mary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo. See http:// www.theelders.org/about.
Mandela’s widow Graça Machel was to lead them in a highly symbolic and historic march and gathering in Cape Town today, International Mandela Day.
It is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Elders and to launch the group’s new global project, “Walk Together”, a continuation of Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, according to Machel.
At around noon The Elders, alongside leaders from District Six – forcibly removed from their homes during apartheid – and 1 000 residents were due to walk from the Grand Parade outside the Cape Town City Hall, where Mandela made his celebrated speech in 1990, to a gathering at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The event features some of the world’s most notable political and community leaders, discussing the world’s humanitarian issues, and celebrating The Elders’ work up till now.
That all of this is inspired by the midwife-inchief of our democracy, our founding president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the one unlike any other, who brought so much compassion and love to the world, must fill South Africans with pride and gratitude.
He was from among us, from our flesh and blood.
We must be an equally extraordinary people who have given the world exceptional leadership.
It is a paradox of our times, therefore, that postMadiba, we should be sitting with some leaders who are considered rather embarrassing.