On Friday we commemorate the first anniversary of the death of former president Nelson Mandela. It’s been a year of great tumult but not quite for the reasons some may have imagined. South Africa, however fragile, endures. The country however is confronting some of its greatest challenges, challenges that strike at the heart of what South Africa is supposed to be, what Mandela stood for. What then is our memory of Madiba? THE DAILY VOX team asked people around the country how they remember Nelson Mandela, and what his death has meant to them.
Mandla Khumalo, 24, store manager, Midrand (Johannesburg)
Nelson Mandela’s death still means great loss to me. I look up to him, he made South Africa a better place to live and no matter what the cost to himself. The most impressive thing about Nelson Mandela is his love for people. He loved people wholeheartedly and his selflessness cannot be denied. I hope one day that I can be half the man that he was.
Blessing Karumbidza, doctoral fellow, 40, Mzinyathi (Durban)
If missed opportunities constitute a legacy, Madiba for me represents the same story as the aborted African revolution, or the failed start of any such. Considering the fact that he had legitimacy and the world sympathised with is personal sacrifices, Madiba was well placed to ask for more from the system, but he was satisfied with demanding next to nothing for the poor and the masses and ended up protecting bourgeoisie and white interests in keeping with his class inclination. All I can say about Madiba is that he was consistent in his fighting within the limits of liberal democratic interests with no pretence towards a mass revolution and advancing the interests of the masses.
Miriam Kitaba, 34, parking security, Kraaifontein, Cape Town (originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo)
I know Mandela from when I was in my country, but I like him because he brought peace to South Africa. He’s good for us, he gave us hope for Congo. I saw him on the TV, when Congo and Rwanda were fighting, Mandela came to make peace between the presidents. He said don’t fight, because the people are dying. The things he did for my country, I see that man is a nice man. If all people lived and had hearts like Mandela, then they would not fight. Everyone must die, but Mandela, I miss him so much.
Adeeb Meintjies, 29, fruit and vegetable seller, homeless, Cape Town
Mandela’s legacy to me is a motivation. A motivation that says one man can make an impact on the entire world without even knowing he’s done it. He didn’t do it to please other people or because of ulterior motives, but he was doing it for the love of people. He’s given me a better idea of how to live and get along with people on the whole. Not to be judgemental towards them, and accept them for who they are, because they are different in their own capacity. Sometimes people laughed at his clothes and made fun of how he danced, but those are all things to remember him for. It’s the small things in life that count, and some people take it for granted.
Mpumelelo Zulu, 34, barrista, Meadowlands (Johannesburg)
The legacy that Nelson Mandela has left behind was a legacy of freedom and to be anything that you have ever aspired to be. He lived to promote the freedom of choice and everything that it stands for. I personally want to live up to his dream of racial harmony. It’s still people’s dream in South Africa. But it can be achieved once everyone comes to the table. I try live up to this by engaging with people beyond my race and who are different from me, it helps me understand them better.
Gcinikhaya Nqakaza, 53, street vendor, Mayville (Durban)
The freedom we inherited from Madiba means life to me and a bright future for my children. Today I am able to contribute positively to the growth of South Africa through educating my children while living a free honest life. I can sell at any spot in the Durban CBD without being deported back to my rural Bizana where there are no jobs. Making a living, sending money back home, free education for my children. I even forget that he is gone, that is how much his sacrifice for black South Africans is visible in my eyes and in my life everyday. Madiba means everything to me.