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Madiba’s spirit continues to loom large with young people from Africa, recent survey shows

According to a recent African Youth Survey, almost seven years since Nelson Mandela’s death the spirit of South Africa’s ‘Madiba’ continues to loom large with young people across the African continent, with 86% of respondents believing that Mandela’s values are still relevant today. File photo: Debbie Yazbek/Independent Media

According to a recent African Youth Survey, almost seven years since Nelson Mandela’s death the spirit of South Africa’s ‘Madiba’ continues to loom large with young people across the African continent, with 86% of respondents believing that Mandela’s values are still relevant today. File photo: Debbie Yazbek/Independent Media

Published Jul 18, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - According to a recent African Youth Survey, almost seven years since Nelson Mandela’s death the spirit of South Africa’s "Madiba" continues to loom large with young people across the African continent, with 86 percent of respondents believing that Mandela’s values are still relevant today.

On July 18 the world celebrates what would have been Mandela’s 102nd birthday by symbolically giving 67 minutes of their time to humanity. The day is commemorated by the United Nations as "Nelson Mandela International Day".

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Commissioned by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, the survey of 4200 young men and women aged 18 to 24 across 14 sub-Saharan nations showed that 55 percent of those polled believe Mandela was the single individual to have had the greatest impact on Africa as far as respondents can remember within their lifetimes. 

The results showed that former US president Barack Obama also garnered double digit figures (12 percent), while Bill Gates and Donald Trump each registered six percent. Interestingly, Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg appealed to five percent of those polled. Chinese leader Xi Jinpeng polled two percent and Russian President Vladimir Putin one percent.

When asked which of Mandela’s values had the greatest impact on Africa, 30 percent of respondents said his struggle for freedom. Other values cited included non-racism (19 percent) and the principle of equality (10 percent). Mandela's commitments to justice and reconciliation also figured prominently. Non-violent protest (five percent), kindness (four percent), and dignity (four percent), as well as empathy and public service were also deemed to have had a big impact.

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Nearly nine in ten (86 percent) believe that Mandela’s values are relevant to helping Africa find working solutions for its most pressing problems. Over nine in ten polled in Ethiopia (95 percent), Senegal (95 percent), Mali (93 percent), and Ghana (92 percent) believe Mandela’s values still play an important role, according to the survey.

“Compounded by the numerous stressors of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s no longer any denying that the world is facing a crisis in lack of leadership," Ichikowitz Family Foundation chairman Ivor Ichikowitz said.

"We grapple daily with populist borne fissures within society’s fabric, including surging political, religious, racial, and ethnic divides. In the fight against such hatred and division, Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom, non-racism, justice, and equality are today more relevant than ever," he said. 

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The survey also investigated whether young people believe a shared African identity exists on the continent. More than three-quarters of Africa’s youth agree that a shared African identity exists, brought forth by a common culture, shared history, and the values epitomised by Mandela.

Mandela’s legacy in shaping a shared African identity was acknowledged in most countries with more than 90 percent of Ghanaian and Kenyan youth believing in a pan-African identity. Regionally, West Africa reported the highest level of support for an African identity (78 percent), followed by Southern Africa (77 percent), and East Africa (69 percent).

- African News Agency (ANA)

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