A Personal Tale on Madiba

A Personal Tale on Madiba

This year, in celebration of what would be Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, we take a look back at the impact he made in the world through the eyes of OZ AFRICAN TV’s producer Dorcas Utkovic.

Dorcas was just ten years old in South Africa when she witnessed Mandela become a free man. Now, despite being miles away from her ancestral country, she can still feel and see the positive impact the change-maker made on the world.

“What counts is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela.

A couple of weeks ago I met a woman. She stood tall, graceful and full of pride. I was drawn to her gentle smile and calculated words. She asked where my people are from, a regular icebreaker in diaspora.

“South Africa” I said.

The conversation travelled very quickly. At the mention of Nelson Mandela the woman became very emotional; I could clearly see the tears threatening the corners of her eyes. Her mouth was betraying her as she tried to utter some words.

When her mouth finally obeyed, she said, “On the walls of my house, there are two main pictures; Jesus Christ and Nelson Mandela”.

By now the world knows who Madiba is. Whether one holds him in a bright shining light or not, it is without doubt that his ethos exudes hope.

At the age of 45, Nelson Xolihlahla Mandela and many freedom fighters against South Africa’s apartheid regime were sentenced to life imprisonment in Robben Island. 

It would take a lot of work, courage, bloodshed, negotiations and more for Mandela and others to be released.

The campaign for their release stretched beyond South African borders and today, in what would be his centenary year, we in diaspora are reminded of how they continue to shape some areas of our lives.

I was an oblivious 10 year old when prisoner 46664 walked out of Robben Island to become a free man after 27 years. But even then, I felt something incredible in the air. While no one is perfect, it is up to each individual to observe and apply traits of others that help propel the humankind towards a desirable direction.

For me, among many lessons to be taken from Mandela’s legacy is that; while one can never please everyone, one should always strive to be selfless.

The diaspora have taken on Madiba’s altruistic teachings, thanking those family members and friends who remain in South Africa in many ways including regularly sending them money through top digital money transfer companies such as WorldRemit. This selflessness has been demonstrated by Africans around the world, with the World Bank estimating around US$38 billion was sent to Sub-Saharan countries in 2017.

Today I live in Australia by choice, something that my parents and the prior generations could not even fathom – perhaps most still can’t because the shackles of colonialism and apartheid live on in various guises. Theirs was or still is to dream small, loathe themselves & each other, look down on their culture and be enslaved on their own land. These are some of the wounds that live on.

Like anyone who’s limited by circumstances or not, Mandela had a choice. And his compelling choice makes me proud to be of South African decent.

My heart swells with joy when I hear others in diaspora streets utter and live by the principle of my people, Ubuntu. No matter where you’ve come from, or what politics you affiliate to always remember Umuntu ngu muntu nga Bantu (I am, because we are).

“Every time Nelson Mandela walks into a room we all feel a little bigger, we all want to stand up, we all want to cheer because we’d like to be him on a good day.” Bill Clinton

This story was written by Dorcas Utkovic and was first published on OZ AFRICAN TV.

Anisha Mistry

As the Editor of CulturalPulse, Anisha is passionate about listening to, writing and sharing stories of Australia's multicultural achievement. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: editor@culturalpulse.com.au