Madiba's 100th Birthday: The legacy baton we choose

Article written by: Saskia Wustefeld edited by: Rinet Griessel

“It’s in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it”. ~ Nelson Mandela

Anyone who receives a ‘legacy’ from is likely to be viewed as money, a work of art, jewellery, or an unfinished book. For me it’s a deeply personal rich. It has been the interesting family bowl, cutlery and monogrammed linen table cloths used over 100 years ago that I value using. It’s that beautiful old church painting that captivates me ~ drawing me into the world of my forefathers. It’s the old photographs, birth certificates, family trees, the recipes and traditions we practise and stories of my ancestors that pull me into belonging. They’re part of my heritage, part of my DNA. It’s the wonderful qualities of my late father and my grandmother that I’m proud to emulate and surely want to pass on.

For Nelson Mandela’s nearest and dearest they have a very personal inheritance. Over and above that Nelson Mandela also purposely created a positive, rich legacy for all South Africans and beyond. We are privileged to have received such a legacy. It speaks loud and clear ~ “You all belong”. He walked his talk of peace, human rights and reconciliation. He painted a vision that we could all relate to, he engaged the disengaged, he used foresight to guide his actions, he saw all humans as having equal value, he listened well, and was prepared to change.

Madiba could have chosen the batons made for command and control that breed fear, subservience and hatred. It was the baton Hitler chose to use because of his negative experiences of humanity. He created exclusion exactly as he had been excluded. It’s a baton of hatred and division that some have chosen to pick up and continue with.

Nelson Mandela chose differently; he chose the baton that would inspire and create hope in spite of his suffering.

Legacies are inheritances that are passed on. When he retired, he said, “It’s in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it”. Many have taken the baton he has passed on and are living the legacy. Sadly many have dropped the baton. But, batons can be picked up...

However flawed I am in my humanity, I know whose baton I have chosen.

Happy 100th birthday Madiba!