Fol­low­ing in Madiba’s foot­steps

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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.

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