By Zazi Sintu kaWeyi
This day is one of the most recognised day in the calendar of our country. This is the day we honour the late former President Nelson Mandela and the legacy of his work through lending a hand to those who need it most and just immersing yourself and time to a good cause. Practicing active citizenry.
On the eve of this momentous day, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and its partners host annual lectures in remembrance of this icon. Yesterday was no different as Mama Graca Machel “gently ordered” US former president and the first African American president, Barack Obama, to give this lecture.
Previously, I wondered how (and even why) some of the “lecturers” were selected to conduct this mammoth task of speaking about the wonder that Mandela was. For me, it was so fitting that Obama spoke this year. Just the similarities in their candidacy eased my mind that the lecture was in good hands. Both Mandela and Obama were the first black presidents in their countries and the charisma of the two is something one can aspire to have.
Before handing the microphone to Obama, Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Patrice Motsepe and Professor Ndebele shared their fondest memories of the Old Boy. His humility, forgiving nature and living up to his middle name, Rholihlahla (a naughty boy).
Obama on a high note, kicking straight to deciphering what active citizenry is and drawing parallels between the public and private sector as well as their social responsibilities. A point previously raised by Motsepe in his own speech. Motsepe made a deep statement that said, “The future of the rich, educated and young is not bright if the future of the marginalised is disregarded.” He spoke passionately about inclusivity and how it begets unity. He also noted the general folly of assuming that corruption is an inbred disposition of the private sector but also urged us to speak of the infest that lives within the private sector.
It was as though Motsepe and Obama’s speeches went through the same scrutiny as they were heavily themed with the message of inclusivity and active citizenry. Obama even went as far as naming the systematic injustices that were causes of humans to be on different ends of unity. He spoke about the elephant in the room of racial salaries, where white males were still at the top of the salary pool while doing the same work as their female counterparts. “We’re gonna have to fight harder to reduce inequality among all people. The struggle for social justice is never finished. We have to actively resist the notion that basic human rights don’t involve us.”
“We might even have to look deeper into an inclusive capitalism.” He said this after explaining how the majority of the world’s wealth was controlled by a handful. How this handful could afford to “give a little more.” He insisted that we focus on economics to make this here democracy work.
As activists in our communities, Activators know of the hurdles, red tapes and hoops one needs to fly through in order to achieve just one of the many goals that look us in the face. Obama addressed us too, he and many like him keep re-fuelling our light that often suffer life’s beatings and sometimes dim. If there’s anything you need to take away from his entire speech, young change driver, it’s these words:
- It is not enough to protest, we also need to build,
- If you know what’s in your heart and willing to sacrifice for it, ultimately, right makes might
- Keep believing
Ahead of our 2019 elections, there’s a lot being said and done that will guide us into voting for whom we want to vote for. Let us use this time to come together, reflect and plan all the change we’d like to see in our communities. And as the worldly Thandiswa Mazwai says, “freedom is a restless place.”
Lastly, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, our standard stance should that be of rolled sleeves.