Article written

  • on 22.07.2014
  • at 01:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Mandelaism: A true legacy to give to the world 0

Friday would have been the 96th birthday of Nelson Mandela. It was the first Nelson Mandela International Day since his passing in December, commemorated in 126 countries.

According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 1,200 “positive deeds” had been registered on their website. Amid the 67 minutes of tree planting, cycling and picking up litter, all of which is supposed to demonstrate service to humanity, it sometimes is forgotten that Mandela was, first and foremost, a political figure. South Africa is now the custodian of his political philosophy. What is it doing with it?

Had Nelson Mandela died while he was in prison or an active politician, his legacy would probably have been vastly different to the loving grandfather figure image now projected, along with his vision for human dignity and reconciliation.

In the latter years of his life, Mandela stepped out of his primary political persona and grew into the global icon personifying social justice, human rights, peace-making and reconciliation. In recognition of this, the United Nations General Assembly declared 18 July Nelson Mandela International Day, joining a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes to helping others.

The UN resolution, adopted in 2009, recognises Mandela’s values and dedication to the service of humanity in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.

The efforts to pay tribute to Madiba’s life by emulating his commitment to humanity through the 67-minute campaign are laudable and help to keep his memory and legacy alive worldwide. However, the almost Hallmark packaging of Mandela’s legacy relegates his political life as a means to an end rather than a deliberate choice on his part to lead a militant fight for freedom and racial equality.

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By Ranjeni Munusamy Daily Maverick

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi