REMEMBERING MANDELA

What can i say about Mandela,a man who like my maternal grandfother whom he shared a first name and  year of birth with.

He towers over my child hood memories no matter where i look.

My father had the chance to travel to Botswana and growing up our house has always been filled  with the sounds of South African musicians,he  had come back from down south with music cassettes.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon sounds filled our house.

He thrilled us with stories of Mandela,and for years my grandfather and Mandela looked the same in my eyes.

Mandela.
Mandela.

When the apartheid regime was at its worst in the 90’s i watched street protests on our JVC TV,watched burials of prominent anti apartheid fighters and admired Winnie Mandela ‘s stoic appearance and i was enthralled by this man Mandela.

I was in primary school when Mandela was released from prison,i will never forget watching him and Winnie walk hand in hand with the amandla salute…what joy!!!!

So much  so did my curious mind love everything  South African ,i had to learn the national anthem Nkosi Sikelel’  iAfrika .

And when they released the musical Sarafina,well that was the icing on the cake,i knew all the dance moves.

How many times did i read Mandela’s Long walk to Freedom ..countless time and more recently Winnie Mandela’s  book A Life.

Yes, Mandela has been a part of my walk in life too.

We can learn a lot from this man who was never afraid of his faults but changed the way we view ourselves as African as well as the way the rest of the world views us.

His long walk to freedom was for all of us as a continent,it carried with it hopes,dreams and aspirations  not only for his generation but for generations to come.

The walk is not over…….let us keep walking it like he did,proudly,humbly,stoically,faithfully.

The South African struggle for equality among the races is a story of all of us.

AFRICA NEEDS ITS WOMEN…..FREE.

“…… all countries (especially developing ones) are better served when women are encouraged to play a full and mature role in the running of their communities.”

 

These are not my own words but those of a former head of the Canadian International Development Agency Margaret Catley – Carlson.They are from the book In My Own Name ,a memoir by another Canadian,  Maureen McTeer.

Women in Africa,and the world over have faced the same prejudices and challenges for years and until each and every woman is free from the prejudices society places on her,then no woman can claim to be truly free,no matter what corner of the globe she lives in.

When African women lack access to equal opportunities in education,employment and the political sectors,none of us can claim to be free.

When women are dying as they bring forth life into the world, because their countries lack hospitals that should have  basic life saving facilities or trained medical personnel,then none of us is free.

When women are denied jobs or face discriminative  policies at work because their employers are afraid they will get pregnant in the future and disrupt corporate/business functions then no woman is free.

When women are denied the chance and opportunity to make informed choices in regards to their reproductive rights then no woman is free

When an electorate looks down on a female candidate not because her experience is lacking or her educational capabilities are lacking but just because of her gender,then no woman is free.

When women have to turn to prostitution,degrading working conditions in foreign countries because their lack of education leaves them little choice,then no woman is free

And until we are all free,none of us can lay claim that we live in a free and democratic society.

Most African governments are just beginning to acknowledge the role of women in development.

When men are  running for elective posts they see these posts as  challenges and ask them selves one questin ,”why not ?” and then run.

For women it is a whole set of different rules ,as Maureen says in her book, women will first list all the reasons  and setbacks (real and imagined)  of why they should not run then either give up or if they do decide to run have to work ten times a s hard as men to prove themselves.

It is time African society sets women free from the chains it has bound them  in.

Let us allow women the chance to embrace the  opportunities their  lives gift them  to lead their  communities and countries.

Let us not to be afraid to let them stand tall and be counted when the opportunity arises to make better the institutions and bodies that serve their fellow citizens..

Let us change the way politics is played,let’s make politics relevant again to the millions of people who call Africa home and especially for its women .