Mandela’s legacy lives on with young South Africans
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Leaning on inspiration from Jesus and Nelson Mandela, a group of Christian youth yesterday met on Robben Island to solve the country’s challenges.
They call themselves the Freedom Mantle movement and are mostly in their 20s.
Praying and strategising with them on the island was Cape Town’s retired Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, a former Robben Island prisoner.
Ndungane was among inmates who had to build the maximum security prison where Mandela and other political prisoners were held captive.
Freedom Mantle was launched after Bishop Ivan Abrahams called on young people to build on Mandela’s legacy, at the former president’s funeral in December last year.
Their meeting on the island yesterday, and visit to its prison cell where Mandela was incarcerated, marked the one-year anniversary of the icon’s death.
Ndungane said it was the role of “young people to ensure that all we fought for is realised”.
“They must maintain the legacy of Mandela and deepen the democracy of our land.”
He said religious leaders also needed to play a role in strengthening democracy and “be the voice of the voiceless pointing in the right way”.
“Religious leaders have role in ensuring our democracy is not derailed at the crucifix of people who are selfish, who want to feed their own egos and bellies at the expense of all,” he said.
Anglican priest Rene August said participants were from various provinces, with a core group of 20 driving a conversation about new, young leadership.
“They are disciples of Jesus, standing on Mandela’s shoulders. They are volunteers. Mandela’s shoes are too big to fill. It needs a generation,” she said.
“Leadership formation is critical. We are here for this weekend to talk about freedom and what it means to take up the mantle from Mandela.”
Valerie Anderson, who works for a non-governmental organisation in Cape Town, said “there’s a lot of work to be done”.
“I see injustice in my country everyday. I can’t settle into that. This weekend is about opening up the conversations in a space where there are other people who are deeply committed to asking the hard questions,” she said.
“It might stir up anger and discomfort in us. But we are all seeing the impossible.”
Siki Dlanga, a job-seeking communications graduate from East London, said the group offered a “space where we can be supported”.
“We talk about the dreams that are in our hearts. We found our people. We are coming together and speaking about what we are dreaming for our generation,” she said.
But Nkosivumile Gola, a food technologist from Khayelitsha, dispelled the notion of a heroic Mandela.
“Mandela is a sell out. He sold the back masses out,” he said.
“We need to understand that the basic fight against the Struggle was never about the teargas. It was about the economy. Apartheid was formed to ensure that the economy remained in the hands of those who were in power then.
“Mandela agreed to a deal that demeaned the life of black people. He agreed to political power without economic power. He sacrificed the people. That’s the problem.”
He added: “His sacrifice was in vain because people are still in the same condition that they were before.”