nelson mandela

Mandela Day 2020: Is There A Magical Future On The Horizon?

By Community, Current Affairs, Legacy

Can we as Africans create a magical future where our continent achieves its full potential in difficult circumstances? 

We are all creating our own future by our actions and decisions every day. We are also collectively co-creating the future of our country and our continent. What is our mindset about the future  – are we creating this story in hope or in despair?

quote by robert breaault

Source: Quote Fancy

 Remembering Nelson Mandela, we remind ourselves that:

nelson mandela quote

Reflecting Back

Thinking of our previous blogs on scenarios for South Africa, we are reminded of three possible futures[1]:


Mandela Magic: A story of a country with a clear economic and developmental vision, which it pursues across all sectors of society in the face of stiff competition and high barriers to success.

Bafana Bafana: A story of a perennial underachiever, always playing in the second league when the potential for international championship success and flashes of brilliance are evident for all to see.

A Nation Divided:  A story of a South Africa that steadily gathers speed downhill as factional politics and policy zigzagging open the door to populist policies.

These scenarios may have been turned upside down with COVID-19 exploding all over the world!

COVID-19 virus

Source: MIT: Reopening Too Soon Could Cause “Explosion” of Coronavirus

Disruptive Change

Our understanding of disruptive change was rudely enhanced by our first-hand experience of the mother of all disruptions. Being on the receiving end of disruption is a big shock to most.

It may appear that COVID-19 will chew us up and spit us out. That sounds like a bad thing, right? But some things are better when crushed and transformed. Like coffee beans. Hard and bitter in their original format, but delightfully addictive when roasted, ground up and brewed in hot water.

meme about coffee

Doe Zantamata – Home

Considering that coffee is something that is so much better when roasted, crushed, and boiled, they are not fragile.  In fact, for coffee to become the best it can possibly be, it needs some pretty rough treatment – it can only become something special if it is exposed to adverse circumstances which enables it to reach its full potential. So, if coffee beans are not fragile, what are they then?

fragile and robust

Coffee beans are antifragile. And antifragile is what we need right now. It is more than robustness – it does not only withstand shock, it benefits from it. In his book, “ Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder”, Nassim Taleb defines antifragile as follows:


Is Africa Antifragile?

Thinking about Africa, the big question is whether Africa is antifragile? Will COVID-19 be what spurs Africa on to realise its full potential?  In his latest book, “Africa First. Igniting a Growth Revolution”, the Africa analyst, Jakkie Cilliers[3] contemplates the question: “What prevents Africa, with its bountiful natural resources, from translating that potential into prosperity?”

Through 11 scenarios he shows how the African continent can ignite a growth revolution that will change the lives of millions who were experiencing poverty and into employment. The book identifies key levers for sparking the growth revolution.

These are opportunities that technology offers to leapfrog into the future, fundamental transitions needed in agriculture, education, demographics, manufacturing, and governance. Considering the projected devastating impact of COVID-19 on poverty and unemployment, this roadmap for how Africa can “capitalise on its boundless potential” to “catch up with the rest of the world” could be worth considering.

The way in which we respond to the challenges posed during and after COVID-19 will determine if we choose to create our future via a path of despair or via a path of hope. Now, more than ever, it is in our hands, as Africans, to create the world we want to live in.

quote about fragility

Source: Quotefancy

By Fia van Rensburg

[1] South African Futures 2035, South Africa in ‘sweet spot’ for growth, South African Futures 2030: How Bafana Bafana Made Mandela Magic by Jakkie Cilliers

[2] Antifragility Definition

[3] Three possible futures for South Africa | Jakkie Cilliers | TEDxJohannesburg

[4] Africa First! Igniting a Growth Revolution


Heritage Day

What Does Heritage Mean to You?

By Heritage, Legacy6,113 Comments

South Africa is a fascinating country. Commonly referred to as a rainbow nation or melting pot of culture, our beautiful home is vibrant, friendly and, most importantly, full of heritage. Recently, our attention has been drawn to various happenings that make it easy to be proud of our country – such as the incredible voices of the Ndlovu Youth Choir, or the Springboks representing in Japan with the World Cup Rugby, or the #ImStaying movement. 

There are many moments when, the deep pride, tenacity, hope and love for our country and it’s people, we are encouraged to unite.  Whether it be against adversity like the recent powerful rise of voices against gender-based-violence in our country, or ways of sharing and celebrating our common heritage we all need to speak with one voice with one commitment to a shared future. It’s for this reason that we are sharing here what Heritage Day means to us. 

Heritage Day

24 September 2019 marked Heritage Day in South Africa. All over the country, people took the day off work to celebrate their heritage, identity and culture. We asked members of the DWC team what Heritage Day means to them:

Unique and beautiful diversity

“I hope that Heritage Day this year will remind us, as South Africans, that our diversity and culture is unique and beautiful. At a time when SA is facing so many challenges, we need to embrace our diversity and work as a powerful unifying force, remembering that our culture and diversity should not divide us, but rather foster our growth towards a stronger nation.”

Celebrating being South African

“Heritage Day is about celebrating being South African, being patriotic and proud.  Our home country is so rich in diversity, expressed in our arts, culture, sport, music, theatre, languages, food and so much more.  I feel so proud of how far we have come as a nation, our diversity and rich tapestry of people.”   

A reflection on identity

“To me, heritage has nothing to do with braais! It is more a reflection of where I come from – the many layers and nuances of my family’s story for generations and how that fits into the complex story of southern Africa. I reflect on how these stories and histories have shaped who I am, and how I can in turn shape myself, my family and wider society in years to come.”

Embrace and build

“First of all, I am a South African. I am from Africa. What I have learned about my heritage is that I need to choose what I embrace and build on, and what I leave behind. Who I am today and what I choose to create, is the heritage I leave behind for my children and their children.“

Culture and tradition

“To me Heritage Day means being in touch with our culture and tradition, recognizing our identity.”

Whether you celebrate Heritage Day with a gathering, or the braai, or sharing stories with your family, we hope that you celebrated with pride!  

Let’s keep the banners lifted, the movement moving and conversations happening to seek the change we want to see in our world!

nelson mandela face

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: Dignity personified – Mandela Day 2019

By Legacy2,600 Comments

“A society that does not value its older people denies its roots and endangers its future. Let us strive to enhance their capacity to support themselves for as long as possible and, when they cannot do so anymore, to care for them.” ~ Nelson Mandela in a message announcing 1999 as the United Nations International Year of Older Persons, 17 December 1998 #InternationalDayOfOlderPersons. We reflect on these powerful words today, Mandela Day 2019.

The right to a dignified life

Three loaded words: dignity, vulnerability, abuse – what is the connection?

Our rights are protected by local legislation and structures that link up with international human rights frameworks, treaties and conventions. In South Africa, the Chapter 2 of the Constitution contains the Bill of Rights which applies to everyone who lives in South Africa.

These rights are comprehensive and include the right to equality, human dignity, as well as access to information, adequate housing, sufficient food and water, health care services, social security and adult education. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights is truly something to be proud of.

A comprehensive set of laws and strategies which give effect to these constitutional rights exist, for example, the Older Persons Act, the Mental Health Act, the National Disability Strategy and the Gender Mainstreaming Strategy.

These rights apply to men and women of all ages, irrespective of their level of functionality. This means that older men and women have the same rights as anyone else. Disabled men and women have the same rights as anyone else. Men and women who suffer from mental illness have the same rights as anyone else.

Older persons’ rights are human rights – Mandela Day 2019

Anyone who denies you your rights is breaking the law. – South African Human Rights Commission

Being older, disabled, mentally ill or poor does not mean that a person has less value, or deserve less respect. It does, however mean that a person may be more vulnerable, and may need more support, protection and care. It also, unfortunately means that men and women who are vulnerable because of any one or combination of the following – age, level of ability, health status, economic position, geographical location – may not be able to claim their rights. Men and women who are vulnerable need assistance to claim their rights.

The question is whether the required assistance is forthcoming as and when those who are vulnerable need it. If vulnerable men and women do not receive the support, protection and care they require to realise their hard-won constitutional rights, the scenario becomes one where the primitive law known as “survival of the fittest” applies.

A “survival of the fittest” situation implies relations of power, where those who are stronger have power over others, and use that power to their own benefit and to the detriment of others. In nature and sports dominance in the form of a “win-lose” game is required to ensure survival and victory.

In a rights-based society, it is an implicit expectation that there will be tolerance for the rights of others, and that a concerted effort will be made to create a society where the rights of all can be realised, also through collaborative efforts where vulnerable groups are assisted.

It is generally accepted, for example, that children, who are not fully able to claim their rights on their own, must be assisted and supported to claim their rights. Similarly, older men and women also needs assistance to claim their rights. In many instances, older men and women do not receive such assistance and support. The sad reality is that vulnerable older men and women are at risk of being neglected and abused.

The words “neglected” and “abused” are emotionally charged, and often conjures up images of a physically abused, dishevelled, weather-worn person in torn clothing, living in dismal circumstances. This is a stereotype. Stereotypes are problematic on various levels, including that they tend to obscure the complexity and nuances. Irrespective of now unsettling a mental or visual image of a physically abused older man or women may be, it could be necessary to suspend that image for a moment to be able to see and understand the true nature of elder abuse.

Abuse is any conduct or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress or is likely to cause harm or distress to an older person, and includes: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and economic abuse. – Older Persons Act, 2006 (Act 2006 of 2013)  

The four forms of abuse are:

  1. Physical abuse is the most obvious, and involves acts of violence against older persons.
  2. Sexual abuse can be described as “any conduct that violates the sexual integrity of an older person”.
  3. Psychological abuse can be very subtle, but equally or more damaging than physical abuse. Repeated insults, ridicule or name-calling is a form of abuse. So are repeated threats, or threats aimed at causing emotional pain. Also, invasion of an older person’s privacy, liberty, integrity or security constitutes psychological abuse.
  4. Economic could take the form of depriving an older man or women from the financial resources they are entitled to, unreasonable deprivation of economic and financial resources which an older person needs, or disposal of property that belongs to the older person without their consent.

All four forms of abuse take place in our society, often on a daily basis.

Many people have attitudes and hold views regarding older persons that may be a breeding ground for disrespect and even abuse. Think about statements that insult, humiliate or berate older persons, name-calling and names used for older persons. Think about actions that tells an older person that they do not matter, for example, by excluding them, by not respecting their privacy, not considering their level of functionality, or compromising the security of an older person.

A related concerning factor is the apparent limited understanding amongst the general population of how ageing affects human beings – physically, psychologically and mentally. Age-related disability is a stark reality of older persons. According to StatsSA’s Disability Profile derived from the 2011 Census shows a positive correlation between disability and old age. By age 60, only 18.7% of the population has some form of disability. This figure increases significantly as people age, to the extent that 53.2% of people have some form of disability.

Disability refers to both physical and mental disability, and age-related mental disability is an uncomfortable and misunderstood reality that society often does not know how to respond to. With increased emphasis on de-institutionalisation of care, more disabled older men and women will live in communities.

For them to realise their rights would require that their immediate families and communities understand their condition, limitations and needs. This, however, may not happen. Lack of understanding of the ageing process could lead to intolerance and even threats to older persons. For example, older persons suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s may be accused of witchcraft, instead of being supported or being assisted to access appropriate care.

The population of older persons in South Africa is gradually increasing, and this, together with the apparent weak societal understanding of and tolerance for older men and women and their diverse needs, calls for dedicated efforts to promote the rights of older persons in our country.

While government, Chapter 9 Institutions and Non-Government Organisations all have a responsibility in this regard, every ordinary person living in this country similarly have a responsibility to ensure that they actively work towards the ideal of honouring every man and woman’s rights, irrespective of age, functional ability and economic status.

Bold acts of respect for human rights and visible compassion for vulnerable groups such as older persons can save us from a scenario where only the proverbial “fittest” can claim their right to dignity and respect. This Mandela Day 2019, we remember the legacy of the father of our nation.

By Fia van Rensburg