A Personal Tale on Mandiba
By Dorcas Utkovic
Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation

Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation

What counts is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made
to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.
— Nelson Mandela

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A couple of weeks ago I met a woman. She stood tall, graceful and full of pride. I was drawn to her gentle smile and calculated words.

She asked where my people are from, a regular icebreaker in diaspora.

“South Africa” I said.

The conversation travelled very quickly. At the mention of Nelson Mandela the woman became very emotional; I could clearly see the tears threatening the corners of her eyes. Her mouth was betraying her as she tried to utter some words.

Our gaze locked and for a moment we were connected in ways we could not articulate. We embraced each other longer than we both expected.

When her mouth finally obeyed, she said, “On the walls of my house, there are two main pictures; Jesus Christ and Nelson Mandela”.

By now the world knows who Madiba is. Whether one holds him in a bright shining light or not, it is without doubt that his ethos exude hope.

At the age of 45 Nelson Xolihlahla Mandela and many freedom fighters against South Africa’s apartheid regime were sentenced to life imprisonment in Robben Island. It would take a lot of work, courage, blood shed, negotiations and more for Mandela and others to be released.

The campaign for their release stretched beyond South African borders and today in what would be his centenary year we, in diaspora are reminded of how his existence continues to shape some areas of our lives.


Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation

Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation

I was an oblivious 10 year old when prisoner 46664 walked out of Robben Island to become a free man after 27 years. But even then I felt something incredible in the air. While no one is perfect, it is up to each individual to observe and apply traits of others that help propel the humankind towards a desirable direction.

For me, among many lessons to be taken from Mandela’s legacy is that; while one can never please everyone, one should always strive to be selfless.

The diaspora have taken on Madiba’s altruistic teachings, thanking family members and friends who remain in South Africa by supporting them in many ways including regularly sending money through top digital money transfer companies such as WorldRemit. This selflessness has been demonstrated by Africans around the world, with the World Bank estimating over US$38 billion were sent to Sub-Saharan countries in 2017.

Servicing people from Musina to Cape Town, WorldRemit have helped reduce the worries of diaspora by providing instant cash pick-ups, ensuring money is received quickly and securely and allowing senders to thank those who helped them migrate in search of various opportunities.

Today I live in Australia by choice, something that my parents’ and the prior generations could not even fathom - perhaps most still can’t because the shackles of colonialism and apartheid live on in various guises. Theirs was or still is to dream small, loathe themselves & each other, look down on their culture and be enslaved on their own land. These are some of the wounds that live on.

Like anyone who’s limited by circumstances or not, Mandela had a choice. And his compelling choice makes me proud to be of South African decent. My heart swells with joy when I hear others in diaspora streets utter and live by the principle of my people, Ubuntu. No matter where you’ve come from, or what politics you affiliate to always remember Umuntu ngu muntu nga Bantu (I am, because we are).

Every time Nelson Mandela walks into a room we all feel a little bigger, we all want to stand up, we all want to cheer because we’d like to be him on a good day.
— Bill Clinton

In celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, send money home to your loved ones through WorldRemit’s instant transfers to mobile money services. Click here (http://bit.ly/torafrc) to test the awesome rates.

Nelson Mandela touches people in different ways, what’s your story of Madiba?

Comment below.

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Dorcas is a Producer, Writer, Director, Fine Artist and Artistic/Project Officer at Multicultural Arts Victoria.

She's also the Boss at OATV.