What does Mandela day mean to me as a young South African?  Mandela day first and foremost is a day which was not only the birthday of the late South African leader, he was born on the 18th of July 1918, it is also a day dedicated to the former statesman and his 67 years of selfless dedication to the struggle of the attainment of freedom in the country.

Ideally, every South African ought to dedicate 67 minutes of their day on the 18th of July of every year in the name and the legacy of the colossal Madiba. This practice has been going on for years now and it has always been a tradition for local celebrities and political figures alike to treadle public relations stunts by making appearances at the same orphanages and old age homes barring the same gifts of food, blankets and clothes with paint brushes in their hands to inescapably finish off the paint jobs that were deserted on the 68th minute of the same day of the previous year. What does it mean to me personally? Honestly, I shamefully have never done anything for Mandela day. I do believe in the initiative though and I understand its importance and the significance it has on the relevant beneficiaries of those 67 minutes.

Some people claim that the 67 minutes of giving back in whatever way one sees fit is simply not enough time and they proceed to decree that Mandela day should be an everyday boldness yet those same people do not go a single mile towards making that a reality. To me for my part I feel like the 67 minutes of Mandela day have always been a façade, an initiative initiated by an overly guilt-ridden generation who were obviously legatees of the struggle fought that crippled the lives of the prior generation. Is the youth doing enough to show gratitude to Mandela’s legacy on Nelson Mandela day? I honestly do not think so. Aluta Continua is a very popular Portuguese slogan used by struggle veterans, student associations and the ordinary South African alike to display unsatisfactory with the current state of governance in the republic. It is adopted from veterans of the Mozambican civil-war (1977 – 1992) that killed over a million Mozambicans, which was between the ruling party and the national forces, Frelimo and the Mozambique Resistance Movement Renamo. The phrase is often used as an exclamation that the war is not entirely over until every citizen has been afforded the life that all who have died in it intended for them. So is the contemporary South African youth a dedicated one like the youth of ’97 was? Did Hector Pietersen and Company die only for the torch to get buried with them? Did they die in vain…? Or the struggle continues?

I really believe that the youth of today is not invested in keeping the legacy of Nelson Mandela alive and I believe that there are a lot of reasons for this. Firstly, the struggle of freedom continues for the black child in South Africa 23 years after the introduction of democracy. The black child’s star is still fade compared to the beams of the other races in the country. The youth of ’67 gave their lives for the African child to not have a marginal language mandatory yet to this day our indigenous languages still get secondary preference in our curriculum. University is still not free and fees are at an all-time high. Considering the gross family income of the average black South African household, black kids still cannot afford to study further after high school and the majority of black kids that make it to tertiary despite the odds being against them, end up adding to the statistic of youth unemployment in the country because of bare favouritisms on alumnae of the fairer skin. There is a funny statement that is endemic on black twitter where populaces comically but cunningly ask for their “land back” from white people on the same platform because it is a matter of fact that white people still own way over 80 per cent of the land and its resources in South Africa.

This is a very scary fact when considering the demographics of South Africa where black people make up about 87 per cent of the population. Development in townships has slowed to nearly no motion at all in current years however; there is always construction of an even bigger and more extravagant building in the whitely dominated suburb of Sandton. The economy is in the hands of the private sector, the banks (Standard bank, Absa bank, FNB bank, Nedbank, Capitac Bank) are all private owned, the mines (coal, gold, diamonds, platinum, and iron) are all owned by the private sector and it is no surprise that private business is predominately white controlled. The black child has not flourished in this democracy; in fact, the black child inherited a fight that was far from over when the bell was rung.

The #feesmustfall protests in 2015 and 2016 were evident of this lingering struggle. The police’s violent retaliation to these peaceful protests shockingly resembled that of 1976. Those audacious images are embedded in my conscious for life, the striking similitude of the images taken of the two incidents which were 4 decades apart were appalling.  I digress, the youth of today acknowledges Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani, Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, Oliver Tambo, Govern Mbeki, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu and many other struggle icons and we are grateful of the freedoms we enjoy due to their selfless commitments to the realisation of freedom in South Africa. But the truth is Aluta continua, the struggle continues. Like Nelson Mandela said numerous times after 1994, The struggle continues for the native. If this continuation means me taking just 67 minutes of my time, one day a year, to help give back in the honour of not only Madiba but also the Solomon Mahlangu’s, Andrew Zondo’s and the Siphiwe Mvuyane’s of the day, so be it.