Last week the death of Nelson Mandela made headline news across the world.
For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past century, Madiba — as he was affectionately known by his followers ― brought about the negotiations that ended apartheid in South Africa, became South Africa’s first democratically elected President and spearheaded the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which worked to discover, reveal and resolve the wrongdoing of the apartheid government and other non-state actors.
Mandela was a fine human being with great accomplishments. But we should recognise that he was one man of the many men and women who fought and died to end South African apartheid. In any upheaval, there are always a great number of people involved, people whose names we don’t know or care about because we never hear about them.
We fixate on a single person, when we should rivet our attention on the overall change and how it was achieved.
Why focus on the collective effort instead of on the individual effort?
Because everyone has the potential to achieve extraordinary things. It takes hard work, dedication and talent, but by no means must you be the “chosen one”, as the media likes to imply. Ordinary people, like you and me, can accomplish feats of equal stature and more to those that Madiba led. Mandela himself was an ordinary man who went on to change his country and the world.
Remember that we stand on the shoulders of giants. There are many men and women behind the scenes, labouring equally as hard as those whose deaths make headline news. You should join them, and bolster their ranks.
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
― Nelson Mandela
What did Nelson Mandela achieve?
- Ended apartheid through negotiations with the ruling white minority
- Became South Africa’s first democratically elected President
- Led the country through its political turmoil after the change of power
- Established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
One of Nelson’s most important achievements were the negotiations to end apartheid. Together with his political party, the African National Congress (ANC), they won the political battle. The next step was to implement the Freedom Charter, a document that recompiled the desires of the entire South African population, such as affordable housing, free medical care, free education, equal rights and opportunities for everyone and most importantly:
The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people; the mineral wealth beneath the soil; the banks and monopoly industries shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; all other industries and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people. ― The Freedom Charter
This, and most of the goals on the Freedom Charter were never implemented for 3 simple reasons:
- The end of apartheid, a political victory, overshadowed the “boring” economic aspect of the negotiations, which was precisely where the real power lay.
- The ANC negotiators lacked the experience and knowledge to realise what they were negotiating for.
- The National Party negotiators fought tooth and nail for every scrap of the commanding heights of the economy.
The National Party’s cunning led to the economy remaining in the hands of the rich white capitalists and their international friends. The Central Bank remained private and the monopoly industries continued the same.
South Africa was gridlocked after the negotiations. They couldn’t implement the Freedom Charter because every time they made a move in that direction, the market gave a knee-jerk response which sent the South African economy spiraling. The signs were clear: while achieving political victory, the ANC had failed to seize the means to achieve their goals, and those of all the South Africans they represented. When realisation struck, it was too late to go back on what had been agreed on during the negotiations.
From political to economic apartheid
The proportion of wealthy and privileged citizens in South Africa is overwhelmingly white, while the huge amounts of South Africans living in utter misery and poverty are black.
We have gone from a political apartheid to an economic apartheid. There is no longer segregation on buses, restaurants and cinemas; instead, a few people can afford it while millions of others cannot.
This is a much more sinister form of apartheid because it’s “invisible”. The media doesn’t care about why this happens because the media works for the free-racket capitalist machine that serves a few privileged elites at the expense of everyone else. This economic apartheid happens all over the world, not only in South Africa. It happens in the south, in the north, in the east and in the west to varying degrees.
The entire system is rigged in favour of the establishment, those already in power and those who have the money, blood and social ties to profit from the suffering of billions of people.
A New South Africa
The world needs a new South Africa. One that finally throws off the shackles of slavery imposed by economic serfdom and that leads the way through example. We need a Meritocratic Democracy and Social Capitalism. No one should be allowed to fall into poverty because they had a bad run of luck or because they were born into the “wrong family”.
Everyone should start with the same opportunities to thrive and live a fulfilling life.
Will we continue to remain silent at the economic apartheid in South Africa and that of many other places around the world? No.
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
― Nelson Mandela
What steps will you take to ensure Equal Opportunity for Every Child?
What would Madiba do? WWMD?
Read the Freedom Charter by clicking here.