The New African Magazine July Edition takes stock of the state of Africa, 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela, as the world celebrates his Centenary on 18th July 2018. The Special Edition is guest-edited by his eldest daughter Dr Makaziwe Mandela. Report by reGina Jane Jere
With all things involving Nelson Mandela, both in life and in death, commemorative activities have been planned across the globe to celebrate the life and the legacy of one of Africa’s greatest sons as his 18 July birthday Centenary approaches. But New African July Edition – on sale in newsstands in over 75 countries globally – not only celebrates the freedom fighter’s Centenary, but uses this landmark date to look back at where Africa stands today.
This Special Edition – Guest Edited by his oldest daughter Dr Makaziwe Mandela, reflects and evaluates the state of Africa in the 100 years of Madiba, and has collated views from his family and those who closely worked with him to take stock
Contributors to this edition include Mandela’s grand children, Ndaba – who has just released his book Going to the Mountain, life lessons from my grandfather – Ndileka, and Swati. His fellow Robben island prisoner, former minister and now prominent businessman, Tokyo Sexwale, Former Executive Secretary at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Carlos Lopes, the popular veteran singer and rights activist Yvonne Chaka Chaka, former Ministers in Nelson Mandela’s first Cabinet Jay Naidoo and Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, and many others including his personal chef for over 20 years fondly known in the family as Mam Xoli contribute to this commemorative issue.
“Tata beckoned South Africa and Africa to take charge of its own future and shape the destiny of her people. The content in this edition attempts to assess the resilience of Madiba’s legacy,”
Their abiding opinion is that the struggle hero did the best he could to win South African political freedom from one of the most brutal and racist systems in the world. But that the onus was and still is on the next generation of leaders after him, to ensure economic and social empowerment for the majority black South Africans.
“Tata beckoned South Africa and Africa to take charge of its own future and shape the destiny of her people. The content in this edition attempts to assess the resilience of Madiba’s legacy,” says Dr Makaziwe. In her editorial for the magazine she adds: “Tata recognised his failings and his own place in the world. As he often admonished, he was “not a saint” and therefore would not want us to beatify him. When Tata walked out of prison in 1990, he was the first to admit he was not a free man, since for him there is no freedom for one man without the freedom for all. Thus he fought hard to bequeath us the political freedom all South Africans enjoy today. It is a truism, though, that freedom even today remains elusive for millions of our unemployed youth, millions of our people stuck in poverty, contempt and indignity”.
And as tributes, events and coverage commemorating the Centenary of Nelson Mandela this month pour in, some call for reflection. The “Legacy SleepOut” at Robben Island where for a fee of $100,000 per person, South African and international business moguls and celebrities were invited by the South African arm of the philanthropic CEO Sleepout Movement, to spend the night of 18 July in the open courtyard where Madiba spent 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment breaking stone, and for a $250,000 auction to have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sleep in Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island cell, Number 7, was broadly condemned and derided. The event has since been put on hold.
According to the organisers, part of the proceeds of this event were to be ploughed into the Qunu Food Security Project, which is supported by some of Nelson Mandela’s children and grandchildren. The project promotes and supports sustainable farming in Qunu, in Eastern Cape – Mandela’s final resting place – and in 100 years of Madiba, 24 years after the fall of apartheid, and 5 years since his death, Qunu still remains one of the poorest areas in South Africa.
On 9 July, it was announced that with the principle support of the Motsepe Foundation (the philanthropic organisation of mining mogul Patrice Motsepe) the Global Citizen – a movement that engages celebrities and other wealthy organisations to collectively use their voice and clout to help raise awareness and to end extreme poverty by 2030 – will in honour of the Mandela Centenary, host one of the biggest concerts of the year in Johannesburg on 2 December. Performers will include Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Cassper Nyovest, D’Banj, Ed Sheeran, Eddie Vedder, Femi Kuti, Pharrell Williams & Chris Martin, Sho Madjozi, Tiwa Savage, Usher and many more. Support for the event has also come from Bill and Melinda Gates and the House of Mandela – which is run by Dr Makaziwe Mandela.
“How do we take stock of our world today as we celebrate Madiba’s Centenary: Africa is better, but she is still ill economically. We could say Africa is better, but better is not a cure. Africa is still and its ill-health is poverty – precipitated by very low levels of economic development,” Tokyo Sexwale
Then there is the 17 July Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, by former US President Barack Obama – speaking on “renewing the Mandela Legacy and creating conditions for bridging divides, and resisting oppression and inequality.”
But what can possibly be said of Nelson Mandela that has not already been repeatedly said? A lot. More so from people closest to him, including his children and grandchildren, who I had the opportunity to speak to for this New African Magazine Special Report.
Views from the ‘Born frees’
More than half of the current generation (the so-called ‘born-frees’ whose the views of these are also captured in this must-read special issue), was not born when Nelson Mandela and his fellow Rivonia trialists were imprisoned for life for their fight against apartheid. What matters to them is what is happening in their lives today, and issue Tokyo Sexwale picks up in his contribution:
“How do we take stock of our world today as we celebrate Madiba’s Centenary: Africa is better, but she is still ill economically. We could say Africa is better, but better is not a cure. Africa is still and its ill-health is poverty – precipitated by very low levels of economic development. Why is this? Because our economies are still tied to the colonial masters… we are still grappling with making inroads economically, and tackling financial colonialism., And while we are dealing with that a new and in my view the most dangerous form of colonialism is emerging – technological imperialism… Africa should be afraid of being left any further behind by technological advances and if we continue to remain technological havenots, Africa will continue to serve other people forever – and that is not an ideal Madiba fought for.”
But in the words of his grandson Ndaba: “The world looks up to South Africa a lot as a country that is expected to stand on a pedestal of values and morality, because we are a country that produced this great international icon. But granddad always taught us to create our own legacies.”