uMgungundlovu District is sitting on a gold mine!
South Africa continues to be a shining beacon, not just in Africa but also in the whole world. In a world littered with wars precipitated by tribal, racial, religious, gender, regional and sectarian chasms, [as a country] we remain a modern day miracle of a people who buried the hatchet after years of oppression on the disenfranchised majority by a self-ordained ruling minority.
The liberation movement, however diverse, was highly organised and disciplined and, in fighting for their rightful birth right, Nelson Mandela was chosen as the face of the liberation movement – regardless of which colour of the spectrum you belonged. All campaigns, here and abroad, were about releasing Mandela.
If there is one symbol of liberation, it is the former president Nelson Mandela and what is critical and of foremost importance in his personalisation of the political struggle of this country is that it was never about him – it was never about his person as an individual but the collective. As opposed to everything being about him, Mandela is the first person that underscores the point that this has never and was never about him but about the millions of people that he carried on his back on the walk to the liberation of this beautiful and diverse land that is on the most southern tip of the continent of Mother Africa.
Many will remember a distorted picture of a youthful Mandela on t-shirts, however few and far been, worn by a few people that risked prosecution and persecution. After countless years spent in prison by Mandela and many others in solidarity, these liberation icons, personalised and represented by Mandela, preached nothing but love and peace – to friend and foe. Mandela, and the people of South Africa by extension and personification, represents resilience, reconciliation, humanity, humility, love, peace, forgiveness and tolerance, amongst many other traits. Some of these traits are central to a marathon or its runner, hence the convergence of Mandela's legacy and footprints with the district of uMgungundlovu.
One of the best decisions uMgungundlovu District Municipality ever took was to honour Mandela's interaction, history and legacy with the region through a marathon – a sport that perfectly captures Mandela's life, trials and tribulations – both personally and publicly. Mandela had mates and mentors in this region, including Moses Mabhida, Harry Gwala and Mfenendala Xaba and he is known to have zigzagged through Sobantu and the Greater Edendale area.
He is more famous for the last speech he made at the Manaye Hall in iMbali during the All Africa Conference in 1961 before being arrested in Howick and incarcerated on Robben Island for 27 years. As much as it might sound like a pun but a nation's history has everything to do with where they are going. It does not only help shape the right things that need to be done but it also assists in helping prevent mistakes that have been committed in the past. If history is to be captured accurately and without bias, it must be told by those who were a part of it and experienced it first-hand.
This is the responsibility that this district has, that is through this marathon, tell the history of not only Mandela but also many others who walked the same path as what we today know as the new South Africa is owed to them and the sacrifices they made. By the same token, we also have a responsibility to those who will come after us, if we are going to justify what was sacrificed for us to be in this better place than they were.
This district has thrown the gauntlet to all other districts, not just here in KwaZulu-Natal but nationwide, to ask themselves how they will sustain the legacy or not only Mandela but also local leaders who played a part in their lives and the areas they live.