Saturday 11 February 2012 marks the 22nd anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison after more than 27 years of incarceration.
Mr Nelson Mandela walks free from prison
That moment symbolised the unwinding of a centuries-old colonial and apartheid system that created huge political, social and economic disparities. As President Jacob Zuma pointed out in his State of the Nation address on 9 February 2012, there is still much work to be done.
Madiba has often urged us not to forget the thousands of others who were imprisoned, driven into exile, or who suffered because they dared speak out and act against tyranny and injustice. He has also reminded us about the gratitude we owe to the worldwide anti-apartheid movement that contributed to the tidal shift in South Africa’s fortunes.
In particular, South Africans all too easily forget the role fellow Africans played, often risking their own security to provide refuge to South African exiles and host our liberation movements.
It is time, two decades after Nelson Mandela’s release, for South Africa to foster greater partnerships with the rest of Africa, and indeed to welcome into our midst its exiles and refugees. Following Madiba’s ethos of inclusivity, our country and its people with their legendary resilience can help build a more prosperous and democratic continent as the home of all Africans.