Nelson Mandela Foundation

Award from the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church, USA, recognising Mr Mandela's outstanding leadership and distinguished service to his people and the world, 30 July 1994

I was born after 1990, and I have never experienced apartheid nor met Madiba in person. Nonetheless, when I look around, read about apartheid and hear the horrible stories that are told by my parents about it, I feel so grateful to Madiba and his revolutionary comrades for what they have done for other South Africans and me as we now enjoy living in a free and democratic South Africa. The greatest highlight for me in Madiba’s life and times is the number of awards and tributes bestowed on him. It is gratifying to see the world celebrating one of our own, the son of the African soil, seeing leaders around the world looking up to him, his values and his leadership style.

Also, one of the high points when looking at his endeavours is an award bestowed to him in 1994 by the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in the USA, recognising his outstanding leadership and distinguished service to his people and the world. This achievement is a result of Madiba being a peacemaker, not to mention his extraordinary democratic leadership qualities that include his higher level of humility, forgiveness, patience, ethics, positive thinking, his passion for peace and justice with a great focus on missions and visions that were greater than him.

On the contrary, what I have learnt from Madiba is that despite his outstanding lifetime achievements, not everyone supported his leadership style, his values, missions and visions, no matter how ideal they were. Internationally, there were people who wanted Madiba to not accept former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro and Moammar Gadhafi, asking if Madiba knows how many people Fidel Castro has killed. Madiba continued to fight for peace and stood for forgiveness nonetheless.

On a national scale, there are young people who are reassessing his legacy and calling him a sell-out. This can be a result of colonialism, land ownership patterns, corruption being at its highest, gender-based violence being a pandemic, inequality and racism, including youth unemployment, patriarchy, amongst other issues escalating daily. These issues are a reality that significantly restricts us from enjoying our human rights, a reality that restricts us from enjoying the fruits of democracy.

It is, therefore, in our hands to follow Madiba’s transformational footsteps and play our role in fighting for change through speaking out against any wrongdoing and also becoming the change that we want to see in our country.