Hamba Kahle, Tata Mandela.

Memory is the fabric of identity. At the heart of every oppressive tool… is a determination to control, distort, weaken, even erase people’s memories.

My favourite quote by Madiba, one which occasionally resonates loudly for me.

Nelson Mandela artwork on wall of clinic where he was treated.
Nelson Mandela artwork on wall of clinic where he was treated.

Last night (SA time) when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela passed away, it brought a profound realisation of things that might not have been. It had been anticipated for some time but it felt jarring, and it left me sad. That said people, “icon” or not, remain human beings with flaws. Learning from ours and others’ failures is vital.

South Africa has been my home for over a decade, the legacy of this man’s, Chris Hani’s, Steve Biko’s and others’ struggles has shaped who I am. It has since before I set foot there and was probably instrumental to my decision to go there.

Social and other issues in South Africa have their counterparts in other countries of the world, some issues certainly seem worse there and the governments, present and past, and of course apartheid are at fault, but apathetic people are at fault too, as well as foreign bodies. One should remember that South Africa has not only defeated apartheid (but the effects) without a civil war but has one of the most progressive constitutions.

Madiba was on the US terrorist watchlist 'til 2008.
Madiba was on the US terrorist watchlist ’til 2008.

I feel critical of corporate media for various reasons but still appreciate their honouring Madiba’s memory. We’ve all heard criticisms of Madiba from radicals, academics, people who knew him and media, perhaps less so or in a less reproachful way today. All these make me think of today, is that to reach for ideals is not in the hands of any one person but it relies on collective effort. Although we have increasing issues and responsibilities, we had more opportunities to learn from than Madiba’s generation.

We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference – Madiba

Indeed it is. Hamba kahle, tat’omkhulu.

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