South Africa: Why Mandela's legacy continues to grow (Feature by Craig Urquhart, PANA Correspondent)

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – While South Africa continues to grapple with deep divisions, it remains united when it comes to one individual who helped steer it away from a full-blown race war before becoming a moral beacon for all mankind.

President Jacob Zuma has called on South Africans to dedicate themselves to building a united and caring society, as the world celebrates Nelson Mandela International Day on Saturday. "In his memory, let us rededicate ourselves to unity, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, respect for one another and tolerance," Zuma said.

It’s a tall task considering that the country remains wracked by serious social divisions, a spluttering economy as well as crime and corruption. Nevertheless, millions of South Africans continue to reflect on Mandela’s legacy.

The world statesman who would have been 97 on Saturday, died two years ago after a long illness.

The Nelson Mandela Day was formulated on the idea that just one person has the power to change the world. It was inspired by Mandela himself on the occasion of his 90th birthday in 2008.

Addressing a huge crowd at London’s Hyde Park, he reflected that the time had come to “hand over the baton”. “Where human beings are being oppressed, there is more work to be done. Our work is for freedom for all. After nearly 90 years of life, it is time for new hands to lift the burden. It is in your hands now.”

For the 67 years Mandela spent involved in the liberation struggle, the international community was asked to join hands in offering 67 minutes of service. “The message behind Mandela Day is simple – each individual has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better. If each one of us heeded the call to simply do good every day, we would be living Nelson Mandela’s legacy and helping to build a country of our dreams. The baton of leadership has been handed over to us. It is in our hands now to make a positive difference,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation noted.

A number of new initiatives have been undertaken. National radio station 5FM which marked the occasion at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg with live broadcasts, reading corners and guest speakers is planning to raise US$15,000 by the end of the month to buy books for rural schools.  

The organisation, Madiba Jive, has invited the public to submit videos of themselves doing the famous “Madiba dance”. In order to upload clips to the Madiba Jive site, organisations have to make a donation to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Art for Amnesty has commissioned artist Peter Sis to design an enormous Mandela memorial tapestry for unveiling on 10 December to coincide with International Human Rights Day. Six metres high and three metres long, it is being woven by Atelier Pinton in Aubusson‚ France. It will be displayed in the arrivals hall at Cape Town International Airport.

Endorsed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation‚ the project is backed and funded by musicians Bono‚ John Legend‚ Peter Gabriel‚ Sting and Yoko Ono.

Meanwhile, a heritage tourism route tracing Mandela’s political journey in the Western Cape will be submitted to Cabinet for approval next month. Mandela spent 28 years incarcerated on Robben Island as well as two Cape Town prisons.

Five sites have been identified for the initiative: Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, Drakenstein Correctional Centre, City Hall and Parliament.

These are some of the many initiatives that are being undertaken to ensure that the Nobel Laureate's dreams of a better Africa are realised.
-0- PANA CU/VAO 18July2015

18 july 2015 07:46:35

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