The birth of Nelson Mandela
A hundred-and-four years later, on the 18th of July, we celebrate his birthday! Not only in his little village of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, or the country, but the entire world!
It is through his tenacity, education, compassion, and a whole list of other personal attributes that he became the person he was. It was through the beliefs that were instilled in him and influenced his character. It was also through the other people who did their part for the fight.
His second wife, Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela, loved as Winnie Mandela, who was subjected to exile in her own country. She was confined to a small town, Brandfort, in the Free State. Even under these conditions, constant harassment from the police and even imprisonment herself for some time, Winnie stood bravely in the face of an oppressive system, raised a family and continued her educational and social work.
Walter Sisulu, who introduced Madiba to the political party and had been on Robben Island with him, still believed in education and worked to create knowledge among the inmates. They also started a law firm together and Sisulu would continue to serve as mentor and guide to Mandela for years. Nontsikelelo Albertina Thethithwe, Sisulu’s wife, was a nurse and activist. She too suffered restrictions and jail time but did not let it keep her from raising a family and running her own school at home in resistance to the inferior Bantu Education Act.
It takes a community to make a real change. Some roles are more visible than others, but they are all critical. Every move and nudge in the right direction gets us there faster.
The South Africa that stands today is not without its faults and the argument can be made that it’s only getting worse, however, for certain people, this is still by far, better than the alternative. It took a lot of people to get here, many of which go unsung. They still make a difference. There are a lot of people today, who are working hard at getting us all to better.
Celebrate Mandela Day with us
This Mandela Day, and every day after, perhaps we can all spend some time seeing how we can help revolutionise our little corner of the world — in big and small ways. At UCT Online High School, it’s through coming together to unleash South Africa’s potential by accelerating access to world-class high school education. That’s our big one. In class, we’re asking our learners to show 5 Days of Kindness. From Monday to Friday they need to do one for each day; clean up their room, make someone some dinner, write a gratitude letter, throw it back with some history lessons and have some fun with the Madiba Shuffle. These are little ways that can become big catalysts. What are yours?