‘We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference’ – Nelson Mandela
By George Beard
On the 5th of December 2013, world freedom fighter and former South African President Nelson Mandela passed away aged 95 after a long struggle with a lung infection. He was a beacon of hope, a symbol of perseverance, and an icon of freedom for many across the globe. His age, his accomplishments and the story of his struggle for success are exactly why South Africa is in need of another leader like him.
Mandela is no doubt one of the greatest leaders of our time. A sincere political activist, he played a major part in the abolition of the Apartheid; peacefully attempting to harmonise a once torn nation into becoming one of the leading success stories of the political twentieth century. Madiba was a true fighter for freedom, justice and equality. Once, he vowed in open court that he was willing to die for his vision; a world with no racial boundaries.
After serving 27 years in prison for his political action against black and white segregation, it could have been expected from those who did not know him that Mandela would be angry towards the white population of South Africa, who oppressed the black population for a large proportion of the country’s history. However, he forgave his opponents instantaneously, in order to fulfil his desire to live in a world where black and white people could co-exist without friction. There is no denying that this was remarkable feat; and a show of true courage that Mandela could leave his bitterness behind and unite with his imprisoners.
The reality in South Africa today however, is somewhat different. Although the country is still governed by the same party, the African National Congress (ANC), the political and social landscape has arguably become worse. The ANC has been in power since Mandela. This is not a good sign for democracy as corruption within the party and South African politics have brought many disadvantages to the poorest. Inequality remains rife within the region. According to Bloomberg, the 80% black population earn a sixth of what the 20% white population earn. Is Mandela’s dream of a peaceful fair South Africa going to materialise? For the short term at least, certainly not.
Both the political and legal scene in South Africa needs deep reform in order for Mandela’s envisioned democratic accountable system to exist, where the poorest have their interests best heard.
In short, although Mandela paved the way for equality and democracy within South Africa, the country is in need of another leader. A leader that will continue the courageous efforts of Madiba, and whom will strive to end this inequality once and for all.