Throwing off the shackles

TWENTY years ago today, Nelson Mandela walked out of the Victor Verster Prison a free man. His first steps outside the confines of a prison in 27-years ushered in a new era in South African history.

TWENTY years ago today, Nelson Mandela walked out of the Victor Verster Prison a free man. His first steps outside the confines of a prison in 27-years ushered in a new era in South African history.

We join the world in celebrating this icon of our struggle for humanity and the quest for meaning.

Unlike some in the world we join him in the understanding that he is not our only hero but the embodiment of the many heroes of the gallant struggle to grant Africa and Africans their space in the human family.

Twenty years on we have to ask ourselves if we as individuals and as a society have unshackled ourselves from the same chains of bigotry, ignorance and hate that had separated Mandela from his freedom.

Mandela's freedom will be meaningless if we maintain the same attitudes towards other South Africans and all of humanity based on nothing more than the arbitrary fact of skin colour, gender, sexual orientation or even tribe.

Those who perpetuate social injustices and their victims are equally as unfree as Mandela and his jailers were over the almost three decades of madness, for freedom for some is freedom for none.

So prison is as much a physical reality as it is a state of mind. Only once we started freeing ourselves from these attitudes will we have joined Mandela among those who call themselves free

Unlike with Madiba, the choice of being free lies entirely with us. Until we make the right choices, our own February 11 1990 remains a mirage.

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