TEN MAGICAL DAYS IN DECEMBER
Celebrating more than one Madiba Day
Siyabulela Tata, Enkosi!
While many may feel cynical about the state of South Africa, a fresh and inspirational voice that speaks with humour, empathy and compassion, hopes to inspire a nation to be “both stirred and changed” by Nelson Mandela’s legacy.
Oya Hazel Gumede is considered to be one of South Africa’s top women leaders. Her own life is a telling narrative of the success that is possible in a country full of anomalies and inspired by the change that began with Utata Madiba’s leadership. Born to a teenage mother and raised by her maternal grandmother and great-grandmother, Gumede has become a true South African success story. She has delivered the keynote address at the gala dinner at the end of the first South African Women in Dialogue forum in July 2003, at the five-year commemorative SAWID Dialogue in 2008, she became the first Young SAWID Chairperson and also represented South Africa as CEDAW representative at the UN in New York in 2006, was a Bishop Desmond Tutu Fellow, and is currently a Trustee of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation and a Young Global Leader (WEF).
In fact, President Thabo Mbeki, who was present in the audience of around a 1 000 mostly rural women in July 2003, joked after hearing her speak that he had not known who would succeed him as President, but that he now knew.
As impressive as Gumede’s life story is, however, her own success is not what motivates her. Her attention is rather on healing a fractured nation and seeing it rise to realise the potential she believes is collectively in reach of every South African.
As such, Gumede has penned 10 inspirational and revolutionary articles which call for the inspiration and imagination to consciously move away from the collective state of mind our people exist in. She asks move towards the kind of country our founding fathers and mothers laid their lives down for.
In the next few weeks, her inspiring works will run across various media in an attempt to raise the social consciousness of South Africans from all spheres of life. The first five chapters reflect on the extraordinary period of 6 -15 December 2013, from both a local as well as a global perspective, and the last five chapters challenge each South African to active citizenship, inspired by the legacy of Madiba and our founding fathers and mothers.
In the narratives, Gumede also provides a roadmap of what it will take for South Africa as a country to truly flourish.
Gumede’s hope is that her messages will begin the thinking and motivation required to build a South Africa where “in all areas and spheres, leaders and followers alike, are driven by a common agenda of service and love, an agenda of upholding the human dignity of all”.
Her works point out that “the truly great soul” of Utata Madiba has given us more in death than during his life as she invites her reader to follow the magical journey that a “bruised and bleeding” post-apartheid South Africa had undertaken between 5 December 2013, when the greatest father of our nation died, and the 15 December 2013, when he was buried in the simple soil from which he had emerged.
She shows us how Tata Madiba gifted us with a sacred space that provided a glimmer of the country that we could potentially inhabit if we only tried harder. Of a country where a Chief Rabbi can lead people into “Modimo re boka wena - tsohle tsohle, di entswe ke wena”, where a Danny K sings “Homeless, homeless… inhliziyo yam, inhliziyo yam” where renowned US poet Maya Angelou addresses all of us as “Bantu, Zulu, Xhosa, Boer,” just hours after the death of Madiba to say, “We see you, South African people, standing speechless at the slamming of that final door through which no traveler returns. Our spirits reach out to you…”
She reminds us that Martin Luther’s audacious dream “that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits” is possible for South Africans, but cautions us that we cannot “sleepwalk our way into our destiny” but, that we need to connect ourselves with the enormous sacrifices that were made in the past and create a covenant to work for and give ourselves to achieve the Ben Okri vision of “the future that our bones and our history craves.”
Reminding us of the amazing founding fathers and mothers South Africa has, people like Jan Smuts, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, and Brigalia Bam, she quotes Desmond Tutu who stated that Oliver Tambo, if alive, would have stated that “we did not win this freedom struggle to become thieves and vagabonds!”
Gumede points out that it is possible to “transcend our tribalism without losing our roots”, to “transcend our religion without losing our faith” and encourages South Africans to see in the death of our greatest father an archetypal moment of positive transition and an opportunity to “remake our societies closer to our heart’s desire”.
She reminds us that the path we are on, one of “insufficient opportunity”, “extremely short on the currency of ethics, passion and responsibility” is too small for us, and that we need a radical new path, forged out of “the messy but beautiful tapestry of our history, our stories, our narratives, and our memories” towards a nation founded on the foundation of morality, ethics and character.
For media queries, interview requests, access to high res pics etc. please contact JT Comms on firstname.lastname@example.org or (011) 788 7631/2
Issued by: JT Communication Solutions on Behalf of Oya Hazel Gumede
Endorsed by: Thabo Mbeki Foundation