By Linda Pona
Umntu ngumntu ngabantu, this is Ubuntu – humanity, I am because we are. Looking at this idea, it means that I cannot walk the journey alone, I need to bring others on board, and my success is their success and vice versa. This is what I have witnessed in Makhanda this week for Mandela Day Celebrations.
Since its inception by the UN General Assembly in 2009, people from across the globe have come together every year to give one hour and seven minutes of their time – which in reality, is more than that, whether it’s a whole day, a week or the whole month of July.
In the past week, I have seen Makhandans contributing to the community in various ways, whether it’s by donating soccer boots for young residents, cooking and cleaning for others, councillors like Ramie Xonxa preparing for and feeding those who are in need, or mayor Yandiswa Vara conducting school visits in Makhanda.
Although Mandela Day is a great way to show one’s charity towards others, in his visit to Makhanda during the Sarah Baartman District Municipality Growth and Development Summit Eastern Premier Oscar Mabuyane highlighted that although we have had democracy since 1994 “previously disadvantaged” people have not reaped the economic benefits of the country. Although he uses the term previously, I say they are still disadvantaged. In Mabuyane’s words “We are free; we are liberated, yes we are led by the government of the people by the people, but we know very well that we have huge challenges on the socio-economic outlook”.
One article highlighted this issue raised by the premier because in 30 years, there hasn’t been much change in South Africa.
So in my mind, Mandela Day, while aiming for good, also highlights these inequalities in our society, as it shows that there are still a large majority of South Africans in need and in Makhanda, this is exacerbated by the various problems we face, such as water shortages, potholes, high unemployment rates and many living in severe poverty.
So while it is great to celebrate 67 minutes for every year that Mandela dedicated to helping this country, we should also spend more time going back to the core of our humanity and working towards a better city and maintaining these good relations beyond the month of July because at the end of the day, we truly are because of one another.
In other words, why give for just 67 minutes in the year, when we can do it every day?