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Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom

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Long Walk to Freedom

I was glued to the Mandela Memorial all Tuesday morning – clutching onto my Mr Price cushion and moving only to see to the laundry and dishes. I was moved by the multi-faith prayer, reflecting the spirit of our truly Rainbow Nation – moved enough to tweet about it. My heart was filled with hope for the country of my birth.

It
was a sad day and even the heavens wept, but it was also a reminder - of Madiba’s great humanity, that good can win and that nothing is impossible.

Children of Apartheid grew up in an unhealthy environment, to say the least. We are a troubled lot - exposed to propaganda that the alternate to Apartheid was That Which The Whole World Feared. The alternate was Communism - which would plunge our country into the dire, depressing world of Dostoyevsky’s Russia.

But Communism crumbled and South Africa held a referendum. Winds of real change stirred hopes but also great fear. All around, the country imploded, fanning the fears and a state of emergency was declared.

We feared the clash of the extreme Right and Left, we feared that the rest of us would be caught in the middle. Self-defence and Survival became booming industries. Even doddering old suburban ladies learnt which household items could be used as weapons – forget pepper spray, the aunties filled their bottles with vinegar and crushed Durban chillies.

Communities stockpiled bottled water, tinned goods and gas – preparing for the worst-case scenario of all-out civil war. But instead, against all odds, Madiba stood firm on forgiveness and peace. Truth and reconciliation. And hope.

It is true that over the transitory decades, all has not gone according to plan. And much still needs to be done. But as one of the interviewees said, South Africa does not have political problems, but rather, economic problems.

While Obama rocked the stadium as Master Orator – it is worth remembering that the people of the USA, 50 or so years after the Civil Right Movement and an economically developed country to boot;
still suffer the ravages of poverty.

Perhaps now, as the world weeps along with South Africa, South Africans will realise the beloved country’s awesome achievements and be re-inspired to uphold the ideals of Madiba’s legacy. And perhaps We the People, politicians
and plebs will continue the long walk - to freedom from poverty.

N’Kosi Sikeli Afrika.

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