Mandela, SA’s living heritage

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As the world prepares to celebrate Mandela Day, the National Heritage
Council (NHC) has pointed out that Nelson Mandela is the only person whose
birthday is globally celebrated as an expression of good to others. NHC Chief
Executive Officer, Sonwabile Mancotywa,
says the Council considers Tata as South Africa’s
living heritage that will remain in the memories of the people of the world.

The council describes the elderly statesman himself as a strong believer in
heritage. Mandela is known to stand for values of ubuntu
that the NHC encourages the nation to uphold, values such as respect, love,
honesty, compassion, forgiveness, humility and unity.

Mandela is a man revered for his outstanding leadership and for his
unwavering nature.

Long-time friend who is also his former inmate at Robben
and fellow Rivonia treason trial accused, Ahmed Kathrada, said of him: “As far as his political outfit is
concerned, I do not see any change at all.”

The comment came after Mandela’s
election as the country’s first ever democratically-elected president. Mandela
is an inspiration and a remarkable achiever whom author Peter Godwin described
as a classic and someone steeped in history.

Mandela should have an additional reason to celebrate his birthday this
year after the building that housed his law firm back in the 50s was
refurbished earlier this year in his honour.
Chancellor House, formerly home to the Mandela Tambo law firm, received a
facelift, thanks to the Johannesburg Development Agency’s
(JDA) R7 million investment towards the project.

It was Mandela’s wish to see Chancellor House restored to its old “glory”
and becoming home to young law practitioners. Upon hearing that Chancellor
House was refurbished, Mandela said that he was fully supportive of the
project. “I would like to see it not merely as an historical monument
but used by our young people as a library and training centre for candidate
attorneys,” he said.

A number of legal associations are
now said to be vying for the opportunity to manage the three-storey building.
The JDA’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Thanduxolo Mandrew also confirmed
that the City is in negotiations with Non-Governmental Organisations
led by societies in the legal fraternity.

Friday 15 July 2011 12:14

says such organisations include the South Gauteng Law
Society, South Gauteng
judge president and the BLA to create a Section 21 company that will manage the
building. The building, which has been declared a National Heritage site, was
due to be bought by the Johannesburg Heritage Trust in 2004 and developed into
a tourist destination, with R300 000 earmarked for the construction of a
visitor centre.

In a further effort to keep Mandela’s legacy alive, Chancellor House’s
ground floor will now be home to a digitised
exhibition centre, mainly on Mandela’s work.

For the man who said: “Until I
was jailed, I never fully appreciated the capacity of memory,” events held
on International Mandela Day should forever go into the memoirs of those who
adore him and appreciate his sacrifices and achievements. These are the people
who have contributed to elevating him to become one of the world’s most recognised brands.

Speaking of Madiba,
Kathrada also described him as a man who cannot be
boxed in one box. Godwin further
says Mandela’s book Conversations with Myself is “a useful corrective to
our tendency to see history through retro-spectacles, to think that what
happened was somehow inevitable.”

“To the prisoners
on Robben Island at
the time, the overthrow of the once mighty apartheid state was a distant dream,
yet still one worth fighting for.” According to Godwin, the book
exposes Mandela as “a man devoid of self-pity, who is immune to the temptations
of self-aggrandisement.”

It is such
revered teachings about Mandela that we could take home, engrave in our hearts
and learn to emulate as we dig deeper on how best we can devote our 67 minutes
on Mandela Day.

A well deserved 93 Tata!