9 July 2014

South Africa: Op-Ed - What Would Mandela Do? Some Thoughts On Moving Beyond Anger and Rhetoric

Photo: Jack Parow/Facebook
Jack Parow.


In just over a week we will, for the first time, celebrate Nelson Mandela's birthday without his physical presence. While we will for a long time continue to cast and recast his legacy and the role he played in helping to liberate, heal and reconcile this country, we need to begin to move inwards to find and rekindle Mandela's vision of who we could be. If we don't, extreme voices will hijack the future.

While many correctly dismiss "language activist" Steve Hofmeyr as an attention-seeking narcissist, or, at best, a bargain basement Neil Diamond, he attracts a particular kind of attention and elicits specific atavistic responses in both those who love him and those who loathe what he represents.

This weekend Hofmeyr tweeted proudly that he had decided to take the "politically incorrect" opportunity at the Innibos festival in Nelspruit to lead a 45 000-strong crowd of almost exclusively white people in a rendition of the old national anthem "Die Stem". The crowd sang in one voice and from the heart, Hofmeyr recounted to his 105,000 Twitter followers.

Reading the tweet and responses to it, one wonders what those 45,000 people felt or thought while singing along....

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