Since the passing of Nelson Mandela I have been left wondering how far we as a nation have travelled and what has gone wrong. Madiba was an inspiration and any person who has ever met him knew that he was an extraordinary and remarkable human. His ability to bring diverse people and cultures together was legendary and his ability to bring about tolerance and acceptance was a gift.

On Thursday the 12th of December at around 6pm while watching the parliamentary channel on DSTV I realized what went wrong. In one of his early speeches as president that was recorded in the late1990’s, Nelson Mandela revealed a startling truth. In a playful comment, Madiba identified a difficulty as he was concluding one of his most famous speeches. It went something like this “I will now stop talking because I do not want to create a problem for some members present here; I want them to sleep at home tonight and I am worried that they might not be able to sleep, since many of them were already sleeping during most of my speech”.

While Madiba was with us, even as President of South Africa, some in leadership were ignoring him. Madiba knew they were not listening and he mentioned it on television for posterity to witness.

A leader communicates his vision to his followers. He captures their attention with his optimistic intuition of possible solutions to their needs. He influences them by the dynamism of his faith. He demonstrates confidence that the challenge can be met, the need resolved, and the crisis overcome.

How is this possible when those in leadership are asleep? If we want to continue to live in a democratic and progressive society, we need people who are awake at the helm steering this great nation. When a parliamentarian cannot stay awake when Madiba is talking, what can be expected?

Nelson Mandela was an extraordinary human being. The sacrifice that was made by him cannot readily be repaid. However, to honour him political leaders should emulate his example. This implies that we must utilize the resources intelligently that have become our responsibility.

Nelson Mandela was wounded by the plight of the poor and he often spoke about their suffering. He wanted to house and feed every poor person in the world. If we seek to honour him we must commit ourselves more deeply to those who are hungry and destitute. If we fail the poor then we fail Madiba.

Nelson Mandela was also an intelligent man and if we want to honour that aspect of his personality we must ensure that our young people continue to have access to well-resourced libraries and facilities so that they can learn and improve their opportunities.

Nelson Mandela was brutalised and imprisoned for decades because of his love for freedom and tolerance. If we want to honour Madiba we must protect vulnerable women and children who are killed by gangsters and drug dealers. We must ensure that all children can go to school and play in the local park without being harmed.

Nelson Mandela honoured God by respecting religious leaders. May Allah be pleased with Madiba’s efforts to create an environment of peace and tolerance amongst his fellow human-beings; in the end it is Allah alone who is the final judge over all of his creation.

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress