Mandela Day is a time when people rally to help others and make the world a better place. It’s also a time to celebrate Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s birthday. The sombre mood in the country makes it more a period to mourn and yearn for another Madiba.
But it would be a shame to mourn more than we celebrate on Tuesday for the troubles that engulf us are all the more reason to be grateful he was born in Mvezo, Transkei, on July 18, 1918. It will be the fourth Nelson Mandela International Day since the icon died at the age of 95.
The stubborn, debilitating problems of poverty, inequality and unemployment that he devoted his life to eradicating are still with us today. He spent 27 years in prison and worked for 67 years to ensure a better country for all. Madiba once remarked that after climbing one hill, another would lie in wait.
We need to reminded of his resilience and determination. It should be noted that he did not achieve success alone, rather leading from the back, much like a shepherd. Now it is in our hands. It may help to ask what would Madiba do in our situation?
Our message this Mandela Month is that each of us must do what is in our power and means to make South Africa a better place. Let’s consider one of the most critical areas, the economy.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba did what he could this week, coming up with his 14-point plan to stave off further credit rating downgrades and boost our tepid economy. The plan and the man are not perfect. Key stakeholders rejected it for various reasons.
Some say our country needs more implementation of the good plans we have rather than an entirely new one. Still, few could fault it as a short-term measure to boost growth.
The reality is we are in deep trouble and without a resolution to our political and structural economic problems, the situation will get worse. With a deep recession looming, should we have done nothing?
Our appeal is that we join the millions remembering Madiba on Tuesday, try to emulate him by fighting injustice, embrace all who inhabit our country regardless of race, help the needy and practise reconciliation. And if we make every day a Mandela Day, our problems may recede or disappear.
The Sunday Independent