It Is Nelson Mandela’s 93rd Birthday; Devote 67 Minutes of Your Day or Your Week to Public Service and Charities

Nelson Mandela on the eve of his 93rd birthday with his daughter Princess Zenani Dlamini (above, and L to R) his granddaughter Zaziwe Manaway, and his great-grandchildren Ziphokazi Manaway, Zamaswazi Dlamini and Zamakhosi Obiri in Qunu, South Africa (Courtesy: Peter Morey ( )

The day is not over yet, but Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born 93 years ago today, urged his well-wishers around the world to devote 67 minutes of his birthday not towards lauding him, but towards the kinds of endeavors he embraced during his decades of activism and public service.

[…]Morgan Freeman, who played the South African leader in the film, Invictus, took to the TV airwaves to deliver Mandela’s birthday wish.

The actor appeared on Monday’s Today show and on Piers Morgan Tonight, where he told TV viewers that Madiba, as he’s often referred to, wants everyone to perform 67 minutes of public service in honor of his birth. That’s the number of years that Mandela was “fighting for the rights of humanity,” according to Mandela Day’s Web site (found here).

Yesterday, Mandela’s family and medical team returned to Qunu, his rural boyhood home, to celebrate his birthday. Reporters were discouraged from taking pictures or interviewing to the international hero.

The younger Mandela generation admire the birthday cake; from L to R, it is Zama Obiri, Zwelami Mandela, and Ziyanda Manaway as the rest of the family looks on. You can see Winnie Mandela between Zwelami and Ziyanda and sitting next to her former husband (Courtesy: Peter Morey (

Soon after Mandela landed in a blue and white aircraft, he was whisked away from the airport by his security detail.

The frail former statesman was escorted to his Qunu home in a slow-moving convoy of 12 vehicles, including two ambulances, with traffic officers at hand to close roads for ease of passage.

The convoy moved from the airport to join the N2 national road which passes by the Mandela homestead at Qunu.

It is the second time that Mandela has visited his rural home since he was discharged from hospital earlier this year.

He spent a week there in May when his family exhumed the remains of his children.

The children are the two sons and one daughter from his first marriage to Evelyn Ntoko Mase.  The surviving child from this marriage is daughter  Makiziwe Mandela.  The only grandchild I have been able to identify from this relationship is Chief Mandla Mandela, who through his father Makgatho became leader of Mandela’s tribe in Mvezo in 2007.

His children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren from his marriage to Winnie Mandela survive, and they constitute a veritable little nation. According to Wikipedia, Qunu is located in the realm of his royal nephew (or second cousin), King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo of the Thembu (Xhosa). Despite his great age, Mandela remains the King’s privy councillor, but this role is probably honorary by now. For the information of those who do not know, Mandela was the son of a Thembu nobleman, and thus was part-royal. Although he could not become king because of his lineage, Mandela was slated early on to become a privy councillor. Instead, some 70 years ago, Mandela gave up any claim to chiefdoms to become part of the struggle for freedom in South Africa.

Unfortunately, taking Mandela’s lead has become a hard act to follow in South Africa:

Mandela, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for helping end white-minority rule, served as president from 1994-1999, leaving behind an economically robust state that became a global beacon of hope for those seeking to end unjust rule.

But in recent months, questions have been raised about whether the African National Congress has veered from his legacy by a top figure in the party, a prominent ANC ally and masses of poor who have seen little improvement in their economic plight.

“Mandela represents a tradition of African politics, both individually in his exercise of morality, politics and rights, and he also represents a tradition that once was exemplified by the ANC,” said independent political analyst Nic Borain.

“We are off track in a lot of ways.”

Mandela’s calls for greater access to the economy for the poor black majority have been dealt blows by corruption eating into welfare programmes and entitlements that benefit a sliver of the black elite with close ties to the ANC.

The non-racial ANC Mandela espoused was jolted when Julius Malema, the current leader of the ANC Youth League — founded by Mandela in 1944 — told a political rally in May that whites did not belong in the movement. Current President Jacob Zuma spoke at the same rally and did not bother to offer a rebuke.

Political analysts say there appears to be an increasing divide between ANC veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle who favour unity, social justice and reconciliation and younger members who care more about economic advancement.

Seems as if the same things that happened in the U.S. regarding black rights is happening in South Africa. There is an increasingly restless youth population who are sick and tired of living in shanties, and not being able to afford the good things that are promoted on TV.  Jobs are nearly nonexistent.  This reminds me of the hole that the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or SNCC (pronounced snick) under the late Stokely Carmichael (before he became Kwame Ture) eventually filled in for black youth in the Sixties.

And then we have the spectre of the controversial President Jacob Zuma whose administration is increasingly seen as corrupt. Many are disgusted that only a few blacks have economically benefited while whites still hold most of the country’s wealth–which is probably why Julius Malema went off two months ago. Mandela’s grandson, Chief Mandla, for instance, has ties to the Zuma government, but Winnie Madikizela-Mandela does not.  Mandela himself has upbraided President Zuma over issues, but the president has largely turned a deaf ear to Mandela.

Mandela and some of the old guard have a point about morality and discipline and gradualism, but one has to wonder, how long will it take? There are people who are hungry now, who wanted something done yesterday. Mandela came to power in a relatively bloodless political upheaval; the next revolution, which will occur after his death, may not be so bloodless or so nonviolent. I’m glad that Mandela is yet alive for another birthday at his boyhood home, but I feel that he’s staving off the inevitable for South Africa.  I hope that his family are spared what is likely to come.

~ by blksista on July 18, 2011.

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