Clearly the Mandela moment is still to fizzle out. Twenty years after his release from prison (1990) and eleven years after his brief stint as President of South Africa (1994-1999), Nelson Mandela’s towering presence and aura still invade the privacy of South Africa’s life and by extension the corridors of global attention.
A statue of Nelson Mandela stands outside the gates of Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison), near Paarl in Western Cape province, February 10, 2010. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
Yet South Africa has to be robust enough in forging a tapestry of a post-Mandela nation at a time when the ninety-one year old icon has legitimately withdrawn to the confines of family life.
Nelson Mandela’s vision for South Africa was one of racial equality and racial reconciliation. It was also one of social harmony and equal opportunities especially informed by the appalling living conditions of black people whose future and destiny had been sacrificed on the altar of systemic apartheid. Sixteen years of black rule have still to record a balance sheet that emboldens the black ghetto squatters’ spirit of better life and economic renaissance. The new black political and economic elite needs to connect among themselves and then with the teeming masses that hunger for change. Granted that sixteen years are not enough to overturn decades of predatory racism; granted that democratic development still eludes even countries that are counting fifty years of nominal Independence; granted that it often takes many years to “reach the mountain top of our desires after having passed through the shadows of death again and again”. Still there is a case for the leadership to begin to switch off the Mandela moment and address the bread and butter issues that preoccupy the ordinary citizen. Sporadic expressions of xenophobia by black South Africans on ‘strangers’ are sometimes social constructs caged in regime frustrations. Frustrations that are welled up against a background of great expectations and legitimate hope; frustrations that are reminiscent of those years when their bodies were shields for whips and their souls targets for bullets; those frustrations are in search of a more creative channel and a more cooperative power dynamics.
Copyright, Blaise APLOGAN, 2010,© Bienvenu sur Babilown
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