Living up to Mandela’s legacy
This year’s Mandela Month is particularly special, because it serves as the focal point of the Nelson Mandela Centenary Year. On 18 July,Tata Madiba would have turned 100 years old. For most of us South Africans, the memory of his passing in 2013 still burns as bright as if it happened yesterday.
We all have an opportunity to use this memory to honour Madiba’s legacy. This is the perfect time to explore what the Mandela Centenary Year stands for and to ensure that we continue upholding all the ideals that Mandela lived by.
The centenary theme of “Be the Legacy” encourages all South Africans to honour President Mandela’s spirit of generosity, integrity, humility and perseverance. The international community has also been invited to share in this year-long celebration of a remarkable man whose actions echoed around the world.
What were these actions, and why should we be celebrating the life and legacy of Tata Madiba?
The most remarkable aspect of Madiba’s life was his fearless and selfless pursuit of freedom, not for himself, but for the people of South Africa. Few of us can say that we would be willing to risk arrest, years of imprisonment and indeed our lives, to fight for the freedom of others. We must ourselves be brave enough to stand against injustice and inequality.
This year is also the centenary year of Mama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu who would have turned 100 on 21 October.
The Albertina Sisulu Centenary is being held under the theme “A Woman of Fortitude”.
Mama Sisulu was a courageous woman who fought against apartheid injustice.
It was Mama Sisulu who nominated Tata Madiba for the highest office in 1994.
Twenty-four years later the two are not only celebrating their centenaries, but are being celebrated for their immeasurable sacrifices in the struggle for freedom.
Mandela lived his life with the utmost integrity. He never strayed from the values he believed in. Even after 27 years of imprisonment, he was not bitter or resentful. He managed to forgive the appalling actions of his oppressors, and more than this, called for a peaceful harmony between all South Africans. Through these actions, we avoided what could have been a violent transition to democracy, and gained worldwide admiration for the way such a complex and explosive situation was dealt with. We too must seek to be forgiving and live our lives with integrity.
Mandela valued service to the people above all else. He spoke of this ideal throughout his life, and when he passed on in 2013, he had fully lived up to one of the many quotes he had made about being selfless.
He said:“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.”
And this is what Mandela Day is truly about. Although he lived a life that can be admired in many ways, Mandela first and foremost wanted to see a South Africa where we all serve one another. Let us strive to live this philosophy every day.
Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.