Panafrican News Agency

100th anniversary of Mandela's birth commemorated

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – South Africa, the African continent and the rest of the world on Wednesday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of global icon Nelson Mandela who became a global symbol of oppression before sweeping into power on a ticket of racial reconciliation.

On 18 July, 1918, Mandela was born in the village of Mvezo in Umtata, then part of South Africa's Cape Province. He was named Rolihlahla, a Xhosa term colloquially meaning "troublemaker", but a white teacher later gave him the English nickname of "Nelson". He was also known by his clan name, Madiba.

Former US President Barack Obama on Tuesday reflected on the significance of Mandela’s birth, saying “one hundred years ago, there was no reason to believe that a young black boy at this time and this place would be able to alter history”.

Analyst Adriaan Basson questioned why it was necessary for Obama to visit South Africa and remind the nation that all human beings, irrespective of their background or heritage, are equal?

“Why was it necessary for a foreigner to come and remind us of the values Mandela lived and died for: that every voice has the right to be heard and that we should embrace our diversity of views and not advocate one worldview that conforms to popular identity politics of a zeitgeist?

"Why did we need Obama to come and remind the wealthiest of our people – most of them still white – that we cannot be truly free unless the inequality gap that exists narrows substantially and economic freedom and dignity are restored to millions of black people who were dispossessed of their wealth by consecutive colonial forces?”

Basson added that it would be “utterly irresponsible” for South Africans not to heed Obama's call and consider the alternative to a democracy based on human rights and upholding the Constitution.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance, said the historic anniversary of Mandela’s birth is a reminder of the importance of preparing the nation’s children for the future.

“We all know Mandela’s well-known quote where he said education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. But if we are not prepared to arm our children with this weapon, we cannot claim to be upholding the Mandela legacy,” he said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday marked the occasion by handing over three fully furnished houses to destitute families.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has arranged numerous programmes and initiatives to celebrate what would have been the Nobel Laureate’s 100th birthday.

“We believe that as a society if we apply his humility, tact and penchant for dialogue, we can face the challenges that threaten South Africa. As we reflect on an unforgettable South African moment, let us be sure not to see it in isolation,” the foundation said in a statement.

In 2009, the United Nation’s General Assembly declared 18 July the Nelson Mandela International Day, in recognition of Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity in conflict resolution, race relations, promotion and protection of human rights.
-0- PANA CU/VAO 18July2018