from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Durban
DURBAN, (CAJ News) – WITH economic problems, corruption, maladministration, unemployment and load shedding among scourges bedeviling South Africa, Nelson Mandela would turn in his grave.
The youth, a majority of the local population, are bearing the brunt of these challenges that are a betrayal of his vision for the country.
This week, the global community joined South Africa in commemorating Nelson Mandela International Day, celebrated yearly on his birthday, on July 18.
With the country in recent months also caught up in some geopolitical tangles, CAJ News Africa obtained an interview with South Africa’s internationally-acclaimed actress, television personality, businesswoman and human rights activist, Nomzamo Mbatha, on these prevailing issues.
In the interview conducted in KwaMashu, north of Durban, she expressed mixed feelings over what Mandela’s take on South Africa’s state of affairs would be were he still alive.
“I don’t think he would be proud. I don’t think this was his vision of a free South Africa,” Mbatha said, frankly.
“I didn’t know him personally but based on what I know and the vision he had for this country, I don’t think he would be proud,” she added.
Mbatha, whose birthday falls five days earlier than Mandela Day, however believes all is not lost.
“He (Mandela) would also look at those who have been able to lift this beautiful nation into great light and be proud of them,” she opined.
“We have so many incredible people who are excelling in sport, art, science and business. I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. However, I’m also very much aware and my finger is on the pulse that we are far from where we should be.”
Mbatha has done some philanthropic work locally and outside South Africa as an ambassador of some humanitarian organisations.
“I’m not a person who dwells too much on the problems, because they are there. I’m also not a person who dwells on those who let us down, those who do not meet us where we need to be met. I’m solutions-driven,” she said, reiterating a commitment to “take the black person (youth) out of that mental slavery of the township system.”
Mbatha is an ambassador of the Cotton On Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the retail group.
The foundation marked the Nelson Mandela International Day with a campaign dubbed “It’s in your hands, let’s plant our schools green,” with the aim to plant trees in schools supported by the foundation in South Africa.
The retailer planted the first batch of trees at the Dr JL Dube High School in Kwa-Mashu, Durban, KZN. The foundation is rebuilding the school.
With construction having started last year, progress has been made, including new classrooms and a new hall. Completion is scheduled for 2024.
By planting indigenous trees, the Cotton On Foundation aims to extend the numerous benefits of greener spaces to learners.
“Trees are invaluable assets in all areas, and particularly in schools as they enhance sustainability, health and the overall tranquillity of the learning environment,” Mbatha said.
“It is up to all of us to plant and protect these valuable living organisms that contribute greatly to our quality of life, and the quality of life we are able to provide for future generations,” she said.
Marc Gregory, the award-winning local artist, designed an iconic art-piece for the campaign.
The artwork alludes to Madiba’s presence in the leaves of a tree, created featuring the colours of the South African flag.
Mbatha and Gregory handed over a print of the art piece to the school’s headmaster, Sipho Magwaza, to celebrate the trees that were planted and to serve as a memory of the day.
This year, the Cotton On Foundation has raised and donated sufficient funds to plant 85 000 trees as part of the Kruger to Canyons, Blyde Expansion Restoration Pilot in Mpumalanga.
This restoration project aims to re-establish the area’s indigenous plant communities and therefore improve species diversity and ecosystem functioning.
This year marks ten years since the passing on of Mandela (aged 95), South Africa’s first democratically-elected president.
– CAJ News