– Let us all remind ourselves and quit trying to lecture others from lofty dwellings –
This 94th celebration of Madiba warrants all of us to ask what possibly would his message be to all of us in South Africa. Realizing he is often used and misused by some against others, I thought what would this universal icon possibly say to us South Africans struggling with various shades of self-righteousness and victimhood claims?
Let Tata speak!
If by any means I am celebrated, if by any reason I am remembered, if for whatever cause I am held in high regard and serve as the by- default moral meridian for those who oft has quoted me, referred to me, heralded the values I espouse, the thought I solicit. I am humbled and have never asked for it, nor did I wish for it, yet I understand this less in a myopic self-serving personality iconic worship but in the tireless spirit of those who believe in the oneness of humanity.
At this my 94th, if I may advance an opinion to you who claim to be my children, fellow South Africans, those who lead, and those who struggle. I thought I craft a tiny thought for a few constituencies making up the South African society.
1. RACE GROUPS:
Those in the confines of South Africa, who have made this home a place to prosper and abide. Know this being human is the highest description anyone may claim, for it was afforded in an equality of creation. One is not human till one has risen above self, group or race mellifluous construct and confines. We are first human and since that holds, it must be supreme and guide us when we are falsely entrapped by an identity confined to sexuality, religion, colour, tribe, group or race. It is from this conviction of a humanity of equality that we must love, let live and serve. This humanity is a privileged one and demands of all of us to serve and the obligation to serve is not in self interest but in common benefit often less for self but for others who are powerless gripped by whatever holds them down.
You are not black, Xhosa, white, elite, intellectual, male, worker or boss you are firstly HUMAN.
2. TRIBAL AFRICANS:
Regardless to how much you have suffered, you will remain victims of such suffering if you in political power practice the same to others. You cannot afford an arrogance of identity wrought in pain and confined in entitlement. The richness of such tribal definition lays in this that it creates a platform to value others. Upon your shoulders the task is to lead for now, it may not be for always hence be humble in your afforded power. I have reminded you and all that I have fought against white domination I am prepared to fight against black domination.
3. COLOURED PEOPLE / KHOISAN FOLK:
You cannot claim you are excluded if you have not claimed your right of equal humanity. Do not allow the cheap definitions of apartheid nor the new forms of veiled racism practiced by those who struggled with you define your future rise above a victim mindset and claim your place and space. You are stronger than what you think, more needed then what some want to make out. You have led the first struggles, it’s to you this land belongs demand it, fight for it and claim it in humanity. We share this rich history that former president Mbeki, so eloquently captured in his soliloquy of our common Africanness.
4. AFRIKANERS & ‘WHITE’ GROUPS
May you not forget that when we talk of our history it’s not to insult you, nor to keep a barrel to your head, but to keep all including you conscious that there was a an ungodly system called apartheid, which benefitted you grossly and immensely, you supported it. Quit acting as if you are a special race wanting reassurances at every turn. The shame of an Auswich is forever etched and kept in our global memory. So apartheid’s shame and eternal scars we must talk of and equally deplore. You cannot claim a victimhood you cannot claim a fear, when you ruled by fear and dehumanized others- thus far you have contributed little to national cohesion, you are not more equal than others.
The reconciliation for which I among others are accredited for was not meant as a unique personal initiative for you as a group, but it was and remains for all of us in equality to work for and not just benefit from. Your role is necessary and your place in South Africa remains secured but not one from an afforded unequal space.
You as a tiny group have exerted yourself; you have known how to position yourself at different spaces and places in our chequered history. You have played a significant role. Yet it must be admitted, you perhaps have as group benefitted the most and the transformation has worked for you, the benefits of post- apartheid has blessed you as the per capita income for groups show. I shall remind you of the Scriptural age old saying “to much has been given much is required“; you have a role to play to help others to equally benefit as you have benefitted.
6. ANC – LEADERSHIP
I am always going to be associated with this Movement, I have once been asked, what will happen when I die, I responded I shall ask for my ANC membership in the hereafter at heavens pearly gates. Regardless to how some wanted to separate me from you for their own cheap reasons. I am a loyal member and remain such I was privileged to serve in leadership. Lead this movement, lead the people desists factional self-centred interest leadership. It remains a privilege to serve. Restore the discipline, restore the respect, and restore the honour. Lead this nation in dignity. Save this movement and South Africa whilst you can. You owe it to yourself to record a history which you will be proud of if future generations consider your work. It is not too late, deliver good leadership.
You are only as strong as your delivering of the promises we consistently made. You are judged on how you have delivered to those who have placed you in such position. Deliver schooling to SA’s children; deliver primary health care in respect of humanity. It must be an insult that children are not in schools; it must be an indictment if books are not delivered before the academic year starts. It must be and indictment that civil society must charge our government in a court of law to compel the delivery of that which the freedom charter and constitution demands.
It is never easy to lead, yet the obligation of governing cannot be marred by corruption, which is not new in this dispensation but also was perhaps in my era as leader prevalent, yet as government you must spare no effort to stem it expose it regardless to who or where it may emanate from.
8. BEE- EMPOWERED ONES
When we agreed on BEE it was not to empower a few, it was deliberate to ensure that more benefit from the economy. It was not intended to be a special group of people’s inalienable right. You have been benefactors of the new dispensation, yet you have often acted as if this was your right. It remains a shame that BEE empowered ones though wealthy prove stingy, (you know I am a boxing fan, so my example will come from there ) when Baby Jake Matlala had health problems it was ‘white’ counterparts who came to his aid, this is not unique – it cannot be defended that BEE blessed ones, prove this callous, cold and it is said is stingy. You are blessed to amass yet such amassing is not your mandate, empowering others is your obligation for when the challenge of youth is not resolved they will turn to you not as some ‘Malume’ but as an economic enemy.
Lead in empowering others. You owe your wealth to the black masses who is yet to find a job, own a RDP house and have their dignity restored. I am reminded of the words as recorded in biblical pericope “it is more blessed to give then to receive”.
9. CORPORATE SOUTH AFRICA
If you claim a wealth it was on the backs of the millions of South Africa who afforded you the opportunity to attain and control the economic power in South Africa. You have given, yet you owe South Africa a contribution that will never stop. The gold and deposits extracted from the communities warrants that you personally get involved to repay those very communities who still finds themselves in abject poverty, it must be an indictment to have amassed so much and the communities that made you this wealthy are still gripped in such economic disparity. You will never have given enough.
10. OPPOSITION PARTIES
Every democracy needs opposing voices and views that fulfil the role of keeping government accountable. Yet being oppositional for opposition sake is fruitless. Do not be overtaken to prove government as dysfunctional when you have in selfishness misunderstood your role. Be humble to admit it is easier to critique and judge and it would have been equally difficult for you had you been in power. Continue to be a voice but do not misread you role and reduce it to a cheap politicking, South Africa and it’s multiplicity of challenges warrants a careful and conscious assessment of your role which remains an important role that Government should and can learn from.
11. CHURCH LEADERS
The church has always been a critical component of the struggle; it will always have an imperative role to fulfil. Yet church dictates an implicit morality of consciousness in which selflessness is the guiding principle and dictum. Leaders of faith cannot be consumed by a lust for money, power and greed in which a new morality is crafted and advocated of celebrity opulence as the ultimate aim. You must help us again to teach and preach a selflessness, regardless to how difficult it may appear, you must again teach respect and the values of Ubuntu, the church must again search the landmarks of its faith from where the ancient discipline of humanity is fostered.
12. ORGANISED LABOUR FORMATIONS
The need and privilege to organise the workers and labour is a critical and unique responsibility of the struggle for equality. Yet such need stands not in its own solitude, but is directly linked to a responsibility to admit your conjoined role of stifling our forward moving. You cannot advocate a morality of consciousness if you cannot admit that among others SADTU notwithstanding its great role has often proven irresponsible and robbed our children from the opportunity of learning.
13. BLACK INTELLECTUALS
Your role is a much needed one; do not allow yourself to be calibrated to an environment of aloofness when the African child still can’t read calculus in Venda. Your job is not just to critique but to get your hands dirty. You have a nation to build and your role is necessary. Lead academically, lead intellectually lead responsibly, lead objectively. Learn from the Afrikaner intellectuals who have owned and claimed the space of the academic world and made Afrikaans a forever language when they can teach in mother tongue any subject matter at even tertiary level. Rise above theory realise the implementation in praxis. Learn from this society and formulate from such bedrock.
You are born in a freedom of political definition yet you are not free from the challenges of poverty, inequality and opportunities. The challenges you face are real and must never be scoffed at. Yet you must take your freedom serious, take you education serious, take your health serious, if you die before your time you would have robbed this nation the next generation of leaders across all spheres. I believe in you and have all confidence that your future is bright but it is never given, it is always demanded. If I may twig the famous words of a the Afrikaner Poet Ingrid Jonker, ‘the child is not dead, but he/she lives in you”.
15. THE POOR
Yes I will be the first to admit we have failed you, we have made promises because we did not understand. We firstly owe you an unequivocal apology. Yet now that we know we must say to you keep mobilising and fight for your rights to the basics, being conscious that on your shoulders the responsibilities lay to free yourself from the cudgels of poverty, Government has a role, but you have a role and no man has a future until he/she takes it into his own hands. Take your freedom from poverty in your own hands and do what you can to help yourself. The eradication of poverty and inequality must remain our collective obligation though we know we will never attain in fulness this utopia, it must not stop us to work on it tirelessly.
16. THE MEDIA
You have always and continue to fulfill a role, yours is to inform us of what is happening, yet your role is not standing alone in such, but finds meaning in your joint responsibility to find your niche to help build a society in which the common good of a humanity of a South African identity resonates on your platforms. It is yours to share with us the good the bad and the ugly, so as to constantly remind us who we are, what we must not become and why we should not go down that route. You like all sectors of society must embrace your responsibility to work for a better South Africa, you will do us collectively a disservice if your abdicate such critical role to be calibrated to an singular dimension inspired by an inhumane sensationalism in which selling your product is all that matter.
17. MY MANDELA PERSONAL FAMILY
You were born into a family that carry this last name, I have been humbled by the many in our globe who have welcomed and celebrated the role I was privileged to play. I was blessed to be the son of my parents. Yet such blessing has not automatically entitled me to any claims. The Mandela name is your right and privilege, the Mandela name is also equally your burden, for which I apologise, yet this name cannot hold an inalienable entitled right of you, in aloofness.
If this name is known, it must be understood in humility as one of many names, and cannot for wrong reasons be elevated to a status that again creates and feeds an aristocracy and proletariat mindset. The ANC has privileged me to lead when I could, I have brought you into this, yet it is our collective duty to desist the culture of entitlement, for we are blessed in many ways, the same many in this great country has not in the least yet shared.
Let us respect the ANC and our fellow South African citizens from a point of humility and quit the afforded grandstanding when we feel aggrieved. We are not the only family who suffered, was abused, was torn apart and made in many cases dysfunctional. My plea is that we walk in humility and respect the privilege us afforded. The ANC owes us as family nothing it does not owe every family who suffered and associated with freedoms cause.
In conclusion, contrary to popular belief, I remain very optimistic about our collective future. I have unswerving faith in a humanity that will rise above all odds to produce what this nation needs when it needs it most. I have faith in all you fellow South Africans who have made the sacrifices for which oft people like me are celebrated, perhaps wrongly. I have understood your selflessness to afford others like me to serve and at time blush in humility.
I trust you allowed me to speak though I had said I won’t talk again because I am fully convinced you all are capable to lead this nation forward and let me and all others who have become frail in old age be afforded opportunity to rest.
I have chosen to speak to you only because you claim I inspire you, you claim I am your father; you claim my values notwithstanding my many personal shortcomings have consistently been the source of your inspiration. I am no saint, I am no icon, and I am a servant of time and the people I was afforded to meet since I arrived in this world.
If you claim I inspired you kindly receive these words in humility and quit blaming others for not being like me, for I am not perfect nor without fault but was privileged to serve, if God could afford me a chance to serve notwithstanding my many mistakes, wrong decisions, stubbornness at times selfishness and many other things I am guilty of He equally can give you a chance to serve. Mine is gone, yours is now……
I thank you.
(Mandela not in his own words)