It’s 8pm and boy, am I glad this day is over! This morning as I lay in bed, I checked my Twitter feed and my time line was
bombarded with tweets about Mandela Day. 18 July, the birthday of ANC struggle hero Nelson Mandela, has become known as Mandela Day where South Africans are required to spend 67 minutes of their time doing humanitarian work.
From early on in the day #madibaday, #welovemadiba and #67minutes were trending. Twits were tweeting their birthday wishes that the old man himself will never see. I was dreading checking my Facebook account, but alas, I succumbed.
It boggles the mind how blindly people idolise another human being. Mandela sacrificed a lot to free South Africa of racial oppression, yes, and for that I am eternally grateful. But he was NOT the only one. There were lots of other people who risked their lives and who spent many years of their life in jail and in exile. Children are growing up thinking Mandela single-handedly fought against apartheid. They all know who he is, but do they know that Ahmed Kathrada spent 26 years in jail? That’s nearly as much time as Mandela.
Do the young minds know that Denis Goldberg – a white apartheid activist – spent 22 years in jail? What about Govan Mbeki, the father of former President Thabo Mbeki? He, too, spent more than two decades incarcerated.
Then we also have the leading women of South Africa who were the pillars of strength in their family and simultaneously for the rest of the nation. Albertina Sisulu was one of them, and her life was only celebrated after she had died last month. There are many others like her. We should never forget that “ordinary” people that we have never heard about also put themselves in the line of fire so that we can enjoy all the freedoms we have today.
So why is it that we decide to only celebrate the life of one man while he is alive and we forget about the rest until the day they die? I don’t see why we are told to spend 67 minutes of our time doing something good for someone else in the spirit of Tata Madiba. We should aspire to do good our entire life long becauase we want to do it out of the goodness of our hearts and (for the religious ones out there) to please our Maker.