Exploring Mandela’s heritage
July 18, 2012
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mandela heritage

Madiba magic

Today South Africa and the world celebrates Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday.  The 18th of July,  Mandela Day, is a call to action for people to donate just 67 minutes of their time volunteering in honour of the 67 years of his life that Madiba devoted to activism. The South African media has been a frenzy with opportunities for people to volunteer on Mandela Day with many needy schools and charities benefiting from the sudden surge in altruism.  There has been some critisicism that the Mandela name has been commodified, and to a certain extent it has.  However, I think that if Mandela Day inspires people to mobilise, serve their communities and ultimately do a little bit of good, then it has been a success.

Nelson Mandela is truly a global icon. As South Africans, Madiba holds a very special place in our hearts.  He is the man that brought this nation together, a former ‘terrorist’ turned hero and father of the new South Africa.  The first time I saw Madiba, albeit from a distance, I couldn’t stop crying. This man who spend so many years in jail for my freedom, looked so weak and frail.  I was moved, there was something so enduring and peaceful about him. It may sound sentimental, but in a way I honestly feel like he’s my own grandfather, and I am sure that many other South African’s feel the same.  I love the painting by Peter Engels below, it really captures his spirit, the famous ‘Madiba magic’.

mandela heritage

As South Africans I feel it crucial for us to know our heritage, to understand the important people and events that led to our freedom and democracy.  Even if you haven’t read the tome that is Long Walk to Freedom, there are many opportunities to learn more about the Mandela legacy.  There are a host of well-curated heritage attractions around South Africa that are significant in Nelson Mandela’s story.  From his birthplace in Qunu, the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthata, and the Mandela House in Soweto, to his law practice at Chancellor House and Liliesleaf farm in Johannesburg, these heritage sites all relate stories of different parts of Madiba’s life.  One can even do a Mandela route, following his footsteps from the Eastern Cape to Robben Island.  My call to South Africans this Mandela Day is for us to explore these important heritage sites that are  right in our backyards.

Tata Madiba, I wish you a happy birthday.  I hope that the sun is Transkei sun is shining bright  in Qunu. You have certainly brought us sunshine.

mandela heritage


PS. If you’re in Joburg check out the  Madiba @ 94 a mixed media exhibition  tells the story of Madiba’s life through sculptures, cartoons, paintings, beadwork and prints, created by a range of artists from various cultural backgrounds.

Also check out this video: South Africa sings happy birthday for Madiba – Nelson Mandela Square

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Meruschka Govender

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There are 3 comments

  • Jordi C. says:

    Excellent post. it must be magical to share the same space with a man (or woman) of such moral stature.

    Nonetheless, while Mabiba’s heritage should be respected and even studied, I feel his legacy is not one of present and past, but of future. Recent events in South Africa really make me think that some parts of the society prefer to focus in the past and the man, not in his wise insights.

    Nelson Mandela’s life of struggle will go to waist if we interpret it as a explosion that eventually dies down instead of the fuse that took its time before igniting the future of South Africa.

    Long life to Madiba! But even longer to what he taught us all!

  • Abel says:

    Great article thanks keep writing.

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