28 years later: South Africa reflects on Madiba’s contribution to our nation

 
 
 

Nelson Mandela’s lifelong pursuit of justice and equality shaped our nation and transfixed the world. His legacy is present in the everyday choices that we take for granted – being able to go where we want, love who we choose and live how we please. 28 years after Mandela appeared at the gates of the Victor Verster Prison at 4:14pm to be released, his contribution to South Africa still lives on in its people.

In his time on Robben Island, it wasn’t just the hard labour and separation from his family that Mandela had to battle. Finding ways to continue growing, learning and fighting for South Africa was a constant challenge. But he emerged stronger than ever. With a raised fist and open heart, Mandela was ready to serve all South Africans. It’s a moment in history that can never be forgotten. Mandela wasn’t a saint; he was an ordinary man who did the extraordinary – a reminder that we each possess the capability to create change. “He never gave up on South Africa and neither should we,” says AIDS activist Phindile Sithole-Spong.

After retiring from politics in 1999, Mandela continued to advocate for peace and togetherness until his passing in 2013. His actions and gentle wisdom remain an inspiration to people around the world. “He fought so hard for the freedom we face today,” says environmental activist Catherine Constantinides. “We need to ensure that we do everything possible to push forward that legacy.” Her sentiments are echoed by Tsotsi actress, Terry Pheto. “Today there are so many things and so many ways that we can honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy,” she says. While Mandela played a vital role in shaping the history of our nation, the future of our country and how we progress lies with us.