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Open letter to Donald J Trump from Advocate Leslie Sedibe, chief executive of Proudly South African.
Dear Mr Trump
ON DECEMBER 14, as South Africa observed 10 days of mourning after the death of Nelson Mandela, you tweeted to the world: “I really like Nelson Mandela but South Africa is a crime ridden mess that is just waiting to explode – not a good situation for the people.”
Many tweets followed in response to your comment, and I wish to share the following with you about South Africa and the people of South Africa.
Nelson Mandela’s death – and the subsequent period of national mourning – will forever remain one of the most poignant moments in our country’s history. For millions of South Africans, December 2013 will be etched in our memories as a most painful time when we were forced to let go and bid farewell to a man who became the glue that bound this nation together – the same nation which once stood so divided and fractured because of the inhumane, immoral and evil system of apartheid.
We all dreaded the day Tata Madiba would pass away because of the love and deep-rooted respect we felt for this remarkable human being. Who could not have loved a man who sacrificed so much for the sake of his people, for the sake of humanity and even for the sake of his apartheid enemies? Who could not have loved a man who forgave and embraced his enemies – and taught us to do the same?
Tata Madiba’s grandson Mandla held vigil over the body of our elder statesman for days as he lay in state at the Union Buildings. We will never forget the sadness etched on his face as he watched thousands of emotionally pained South Africans pay final respects to his grandfather.
The sadness we all felt was then overpowered by a deep sense of love, pride, contentment and power for Tata Madiba, his family and our fellow South Africans when Mandla later stated: “I have witnessed his army. I have witnessed his people. I have witnessed ordinary citizens... and I can assure the ANC that the future of this country looks bright.”
Many people fail to understand that South Africans are a special, resilient, united and proud people who have overcome extreme adversity. It’s these very experiences that reinforce our sense of unity and pride as one people.
Many of the responses to your tweet illustrate that we remain united as ever as a nation, despite any hardships we may face.
Even though Madiba is no more, his legacy still binds us. As South Africans, we still have our challenges, such as crime and unemployment and poverty
We’re working on them.
We faced the beast of apartheid for decades and emerged victorious. Having done that, there is very little else which we cannot conquer as a nation united. We are bound together as a miracle nation and there’s nothing that you or I can do about that. It is what it is.
I’m sure Americans must share the same sense of unity and determination, for example, every time there is a school shooting. Fortunately, we do not experience that type of crime in South Africa.
But make no mistake, Mr Trump. South Africa isn’t a backwater where there is no rule of law. We are a functioning democracy and the government of this country has not allowed the infrastructure to collapse.
Your concern is noted. But let me assure you that South Africa is fine. South Africa is not broken and certainly not about to explode. We have taken the baton and will continue to carry forward Tata Madiba’s legacy. That, in itself, makes us more likely to succeed than other people. We did it when Chris Hani was assassinated. We did it when the Boipatong massacre happened. We did it at Codesa. And we did it again in 1994.
We have done it over and over again and we will continue to succeed without imploding or exploding.
So, please don’t worry about us. South Africa always has a trump card, Mr Trump.
Meanwhile, we’re ready to receive and host you – and hopefully you’ll get to understand this awesome rainbow nation. We are open for business.
* Leslie Sedibe is chief executive of Proudly South African.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.