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Rainbow not elusive dream

By unknown | Jul 17, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

AN ANONYMOUS soldier, who fought and died in the First World War, left an inscription that read ". tell them about us, tell them that for their tomorrow, we gave up our today".

AN ANONYMOUS soldier, who fought and died in the First World War, left an inscription that read ". tell them about us, tell them that for their tomorrow, we gave up our today".

These words came to mind while I reflected on the meaning of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela's life.

It is that time of the year again when we gush from the sheer magic of being associated with the iconic Mandela. At any other time it may be "cheesy" and obvious to claim that Mandela is an inspiration.

People worldwide regard him as a symbol of what is good and pure, a manifestation of what is possible if we reach into ourselves, find the best part of who we are and share it with the world.

This man, once vilified as the worst form of humanity by the apartheid regime and its cohorts, is celebrating his birthday.

For a moment we will stand still and reflect on his life. "Get over yourselves, he is not God" you might rightly argue.

But it is precisely because he does not see himself as grander than the next person that he has such mass appeal. He persistently tries to convince us that he is but a fraction of the whole and that it is the collective presence of all his comrades that brought the soothing winds of change to South Africa.

Well, he is right to remind us that for our tomorrow so many people gave up their today.

But the fact is that in spite of himself he has been and will continue to be immortalised by people.

Everyone has feet of clay and I doubt if Mandela is imbued with saintly qualities.

He is after all human and, being human, I bet he has some vices, just like any other person does.

But he is ours, we love him and gladly share him with the rest of the world.

Cynics like to assert that life is hard and cruel. But every so often life exceeds our expectations and delivers unexpected gifts.

These gifts sometimes come in the form of leaders whose moral standing challenges us to be better human beings.

Our society is so bankrupt in so many ways. We have leaders who lie to us, pillage resources and betray our trust.

As citizens we sometimes fail to uphold the principles of our Constitution and violate each other's rights by committing crime - and that includes seemingly innocuous deeds like pinching someone's food from the fridge at work, throwing cigarette stubs on the ground and hogging two parking spots instead of one.

At a more fundamental level the face of poverty in South Africa is black and the class divisions are widening.

It is, therefore, understandable that some argue that Tata was too generous to our oppressors and over-zealous in pushing the reconciliation agenda.

But somebody had to be the bigger person.

But for now, let's just celebrate the gift of Mandela. Let us use his birthday to remind ourselves of the dreams upon which the new South Africa was built.

If this country with all its imperfections can produce a human being of Mandela's calibre, then it can do more.

There does not need to be a chasm between our aspirations and what is possible.

The rainbow nation is not an elusive dream. We can and must achieve it.

Three cheers to our beloved Mandela. Hip-hip hooray!


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