In South Africa – and indeed the world – the Mandela persona is associated with integrity, perseverance, a profound understanding of humankind, and the ability to lead and learn. Moreover, he was a courageous man who had the intellectual shrewdness and political savvy to guide the country through trying times to a new democratic dispensation. Alongside other great leaders and activists of the Struggle, Mr Mandela played a pivotal role – through word and deed – in the fight for justice and equality against the white South African government’s evil apartheid system of oppression and racial inequality. He was a principled man who believed in righteousness and fairness to all. But he was also a revolutionary par excellence who was prepared to die for what he stood for. His astute leadership was highly respected and admired throughout his adult life, whether as a leader of the African National Congress, his 27 years in prison, or as the first black democratically elected president of the country. Particularly in the period of his presidency, he proved to be the rallying point for the majority of South Africans who were looking forward to a better future, irrespective of their background or political affiliation. After 5 years at the helm of government, he decided to relinquish his role as president of the country due to personal reasons. Although he was entitled to serve a second term of office, he would not continue. Nelson Mandela, the distinguished personality and leader had withdrawn from the world of politics and opted for a life of privacy, a gesture fully respected by his people and the world.
2018 is the year of Mr Mandela’s 100th birthday. Spurred on by the South African government and the South African based Nelson Mandela Foundation, a worldwide initiative has been launched to honour the great man by showcasing, analysing, exploring and documenting his life and works. The Mayibuye Südafrika Community e.V. – the legally registered South African NGO in Germany – has committed itself to undertake a number of projects to celebrate this historic event. This will also be an opportunity to examine the Mandela legacy vis-a-vis the present political, social and economic environment in South Africa. As is widely acknowledged, rooted in this legacy is the principled right of every individual to benefit from the democratic process as enshrined in the constitution. During the years under the Mandela government, progress towards an egalitarian society was well under way and there were high hopes that transformation to a brighter life for all – especially the underprivileged black community – would soon come to pass. Unfortunately, this process has been derailed and stagnated in recent years by government officials, who have abused their status in government as representatives of the people to enrich themselves through corruption and selfindulgence. Poverty, unemployment, inequality and racism are still major challenges and it is high time that government gets back on track to tackle and resolve these issues. One of Mandela’s major objectives was to build a democracy to which all could look up to with pride and joy. This task has not been completed yet and it is up to the people of South Africa to take up the Mandela reins and continue the good fight.
The Mayibuye Südafrika Community e.V. intends – through its activities – to make a concentrated effort to address the shortcomings facing the people of South Africa in an open, critical and consructive manner.