Mandela Day a sobering reminder in aftermath of chaos
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Cape Town - Reflections on Mandela Day came as the country was engulfed by unprecedented protests and violence, at a time when the country tried to reaffirm that which it held dear – democracy, said Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu at the Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture on Sunday.
Sisulu said Mandela was completely unapologetic about the position of the ANC and was always calm in everything he did.
“From this man and his generation, we have learnt all we needed to learn about revolutionary fervour and its all-encompassing mindset that produces immense selfishness, readiness to commit to give up everything, and ensure rights and justice for all and subordination to the cause of the struggle for equality.”
Sisulu said the reflections on Mandela happened at a time when the country was trying to reaffirm the supremacy of democracy.
“Who is the final arbiter of whether we got it right? Is it the people, or have we handed over to other arbiters? These are questions to continuously engage.”
She said never in their lives had they seen hunger, frustration and criminality drive people into looting and destroying property on such a scale as in the past week.
“Never have we seen the state capacity unable to rise immediately to the occasion, perhaps because we never had or anticipated this kind of situation before.
“As we move to bring the situation under control, no one can deny that we are emerging as a country from a trying time this country has never countenanced,” Sisulu said.
In a statement, Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, said she struggled to come to terms with all that had taken place in the week of Madiba’s birthday.
“The political violence, racial tensions and the debilitating lawlessness we are experiencing have no place in this beautiful country. And all during the week of Madiba’s birthday! In my desperation, however, I take heart in the recollection that we have been through troubled times before. And I am reminded of Madiba’s indomitable spirit which was a beacon of light for us through that darkness.
“And I am sure that from up there where he is, he is watching this beloved country of his. And in his resolute determination, which has always guided us in the darkest hours of our history, he reminds us that we can overcome any challenge if we keep focus on what is just,” she said.
While lockdown level four restrictions may have prevented events, communities across the city tried to do their bit for 67 minutes, like the Shalom Gospel church in Mitchells Plain feeding 250 people in their community. The Shonaquip Social Enterprise hosting a Facebook event encouraged citizens to spend 67 minutes listening to and sharing stories that helped contribute to a more inclusive dialogue in South Africa. Conservation organisation Litter Bugs called on people to clean up wherever they were with a virtual clean-up event for Madiba Day.