Today I sigh. Dusting the years that have gone I picked up a paper that once had my heart
torn. Dating back to 2016, the era when presidential scandals seemed to be the apocalypse of
law and order. It spoke of a time when my young generation fought breath-taking battles to
save a continent.
My muscles are now worn out and my stature corrupted by the toll of time. I am not as young
anymore, though I can still recall as if it were yesterday, how those stormy years made a
continent sick. The assassination of the Libyan President, the uncertain state of Zimbabwean
affairs, the dictatorship of democratic presidents, all making us wonder whether anything new
was to come under the hot African sun, or had the oppression and corruption already signed
away our freedom – we were sick of it!
South Africa was no exception. Having expected much from the government we caught a
fever triggered by disappointment and we did not want pain killers; we wanted the cure! We
were sick that the born free generation was bound to wear financial shackles, and that with
enough cash, criminals could break theirs! Sick of empty promises that widened the gap
between the rich and poor. Sick that the highest authority in the country was as influential as
a bound set of blank sheets unable to meet the fundamental needs that drove the people. So
sick that the rainbow of the nation to us was now the myriad of problems we faced. And it
was time things changed… and boy a great change was coming!
All this trouble ushered in, as if on purpose, an era of unity. The people were no longer
bothered by their differences. A new breed was born. A wind of change swept through the
country from centre to coast spreading the realisation that beyond skin pigmentation, the
tongue’s agility and ancestral branches we were all from the same tree. As if Christ himself
had returned the nation had evolved. So speaking the language of unity in purpose, the
society of philanthropists, adopted a culture of peace and Ubuntu choosing to belong to one
and one race only – that of humanity.
Martin Luther, Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela all got their wish! From their
differences (that like turrets once rose only to look down on each other) the African nations
built bridges where walls once stood, and a surrounding barricade to protect this unity. Now
the differences did not just stand as turrets but also as watch towers to a castle, watching for
any threats to this unity whichever direction it came.
Today I sigh in relief. Having told my grandchildren the story of a nation’s rebirth, I yawn as
my time draws near. Remembering how a people initially united by a common enemy, looked
beyond the differences at the surface to find common ground within. Ground upon which
they built a place for all Africans to live, love and sigh!
Emmanuel Mangalibi is an undergraduate student at Durban University of Technology, South Africa.