EDITORIAL | May Madiba’s flame, and name, live on

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Image: AFP Photo / Alexander Joe

Nelson Mandela’s name carries undisputed pulling power. It also has a rare ability to encourage decorum among a political body more consumed with braggadocio, bombast and outright boorishness.

At risk of stating the obvious, Mandela continues to inspire people, even in death. On Tuesday, the rich and powerful joined thousands of ordinary South Africans in Johannesburg to commemorate the birth of Mvezo’s finest son a century ago.

Mandela died in 2013 and we have felt the vacuum ever since.

Apart from his smiles and wisdom, we no longer get to see photographs of Madiba surrounded by children for his birthday, a tradition that endeared him to all and brought the man himself so much joy, something he was deprived of for nearly three decades.

As time goes on and the memory of his passing multiplies in years, moments like Wednesday’s celebrations are important for those he left behind.

His parables and his actions are well documented, and in an age of such turmoil and uncertainty, his legacy continues to moor us.

Many will use this occasion to peddle their unbridled ambitions, hoping for a veneer of legitimacy by pandering to his name.

But for them, no amount of Madiba magic can save them.

For others who have chosen a salubrious path, who are sincere about advancing humanity’s cause, Mandela’s name hoists them higher.

Here, in the metropolis named after him, these truths are evident each and every day.

We have a duty to ensure the good in Mandela’s name befits our city.

There is some way to go.

That, then, is our burden, a small one to shoulder in the name of Nelson Mandela.

May his flame – and his name – live on.