Iconic Table Mountain
Professor Adam Habib, one of South Africa’s most respected political analysts, told me in a recent interview that as Mandela had been out of political life for at least 12 years and had not been an active guiding influence for at least six years, we are unlikely to have any significant change in prospects in a post-Mandela South Africa. However, the country faces enormous challenges – one of the most pressing being higher levels of inequality.
Poorer countries around the world began to catch up with richer ones in the 1980s with the result that global inequality began to fall. South Africa, despite its hopeful move into democracy almost 20 years ago is, however, still one of the world’s most unequal societies. And as inequality more than poverty polarises society, growing inequality is presenting huge social, economic and political challenges with sluggish financial growth, weakening demand and increased social unrest proving worrisome.
So what is the answer to South Africa’s growing inequality? There are many answers to this highly emotive and complex question – one lying with improved education and greater investment in the young, the world per se putting a high store on high-level intellectual skills and the capacity to think, plan and make decisions. Whilst another calls for improved productivity and an increase in competitive advantage by making better use of the country’s capitals: human, natural, financial and reputational.
There can be no better way of honouring Mandela’s incomparable legacy than by narrowing the bridge of inequality that is dividing South African society – the question is whether the political and business elite of the country have the will?
Flowers for the Father of the Rainbow Nation -Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
In an age when the unrelenting glare of media publicity has exposed many popular heroes as having feet of clay, one man’s star will continue to rise … and rise. That man is Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and the brilliance of his iconic status as a universal hero of the 20th and early 21st centuries, has, by reflection, immensely enhanced South Africa’s prestige on the world stage.
Directly or by association, all of us in South Africa have benefited from the panache of the Mandela persona which has proved to be an unparalleled trump card for the Rainbow Nation. However, I believe it is in his belief in “honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men”, qualities which he felt to be “within the reach of every soul”, that his greatest gift to the nation is to be found – for Madiba has given us a template for greatness. And we are in urgent need of men and women of greatness.
Where would we be without Madiba’s example of forgiveness and reconcilliation? His immense goodwill which he extended across the nation and which embraced people of all colours, cultures and creeds? His willingness to subjugate himself to the monumental task of building a new South Africa? His Mandela Jive? His humour and humanity? He believed that “a person is a person because of other people”. Thank you Madiba for teaching us what it means to be a “person”. We will forever be grateful. We will never forget you. May you now Rest In Peace.