The Centenary of Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela

Posted on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

By Themba Kojana

Category: Latest News

The Education Superintendent General’s office calls upon you to ‘BE THE LEGACY’ by following Madiba’s footsteps.

The year 2018 will be the centenary celebration of Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela. He is a native son of the Eastern Cape who went from his humble rural upbringing to becoming an icon of the late 20th century. His journey was perilous and fraught with personal loss yet his fortitude and resilience made him a world leader.

His struggle against Apartheid is well known and taught in schools around the world. An international day of commemoration is named after him because he is known for his principles and leadership. His openness and generosity of spirit have him affectionately called Tata, Father of the nation. With great humility he is often referred to as Madiba, by his clan name.

This year’s celebration of the centenary of his birth coincides with the celebration of another struggle stalwart, Albertina Sisulu, who is also from the Eastern Cape. The bounty of legendary men and women who originate from this great land is a blessing and we as South African people are fortunate for their exemplary and selfless service to our collective future.

Tata Madiba gave the world many lessons and he was the product of a good education. His education both as a man and as a politician benefited a nation and the world at large. In his own words: “Education is the best weapon which you can use to change the world”

Among the many lessons we can glean from his life is that no matter our own circumstance, no matter how great the odds, one can better the world around them. He was expelled from the University of Fort Hare and finished his studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, with financial help from his friend, Walter Sisulu, and husband of Albertina Sisulu. When Apartheid legislation was formalized in 1948 he was equipped with the means to challenge the tyrannical system that oppressed so many of his people.

 In the face of great odds he persevered. Before the post-apartheid reconciliation programme he had to reconcile his formal education with his upbringing and the principles by which he and his people wished to abide by. He is viewed as a man of strong moral character, who was guided by an intrinsic sense of justice. No amount of persecution could rob him of his innermost quest. The very law he studied was used against him and yet he never faltered from his path. His mission was beset with countless obstacles and still he continued to forge ahead at great personal expense.

The interruption to his life did not allow him to achieve his doctorate in higher education. But his contribution to the society allowed him to receive an honorary doctorate. Having had his youth taken away from him unjustly, he had a special place in his heart for children and emphasized that their education is paramount.

As a father of this great democracy we can all take from his example and build a future we are all proud of. This is the impetus for the call to “BE THE LEGACY”. The gift of freedom bestowed upon us requires all of our commitment to bettering ourselves and the quality of life of those around us. Just as Tata fought against all forms of oppression, we can also liberate ourselves and others through education.

Education is a great equalizer and tool to uplift all people from their personal circumstance. From a child herding cattle in Qhunu to a phenomenon celebrated the world over, Nelson Mandela shows us that it is possible to advance through life, meeting every challenge as an opportunity to learn.

Tata is but one of many examples and we are fortunate to have so many to draw from. The more we learn from our heroes and elders the more we cement their legacy, our legacy.


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