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Mandela's Legacy Lives on in South Africa Through Its Young People

Why Global Citizens Should Care
South Africa has come a long way thanks to the efforts of activists like Nelson Mandela, who dedicated their lives to fighting injustice. But all of us, both in South Africa and around the world, still have a long way to go in realising his dream of an end to poverty and injustice everywhere. You can join us by taking action in support of the UN’s Global Goals to end extreme poverty here

Just last month, the world celebrated what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. And in the spirit of the celebration, one had to simply ask themselves what they are doing to continue his legacy and what he stood for. 

Mandela’s legacy symbolises a beam of hope for a completely new South Africa; a country that exemplifies equality for all people, education for all children, and promotes peace, justice, and freedom for all. 

Take action: Tell President Ramaphosa: Let's #BeTheGeneration to End Extreme Poverty!

With an extremely high unemployment rate, shocking femicide and rape statistics, as well as inequality amongst races, most of the younger generation feel they are not reaping the rewards of the new democracy and have to continue the good fight for a better South Africa. 

How Do We Feel About His Legacy Now? 

Although progress has been made, South Africa still has a very long way to go. Racism still plays a major role in our society, women and children are still victims of rape and abuse, not enough children are receiving quality education, and we have an unemployment rate of 27%, which shows no sign of decreasing. 

With that being said, the new generation is determined to continue fighting the fight their grandparents began.

As former president of the United States Barack Obama said in his speech at the 2018 Nelson Mandela annual lecture in Johannesburg, “we now stand at a crossroads — a moment in time at which two very different visions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and the minds of citizens around the world. Two different stories, two different narratives about who we are and who we should be. How should we respond?”

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Obama’s question is pertinent, not only as an individual, but for society as a whole. There is hope because we have the foundation Mandela laid for us. Now, we can continue his legacy by acknowledging both narratives: what our grandparents did to fight against apartheid, to learn from their mistakes and their successes, and to start writing a story of our own.

We need to create a new vision for ourselves that encapsulates what we truly want to eradicate, and what we want to improve on as a country, and actively find ways to achieve it.

Learn more: Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 on Dec. 2 in Johannesburg

What Are We Doing To Continue His Legacy?

Young people continue to do plenty in the fight against racism and gender inequality. 

One of the best things about that is that young people join together on different platforms to expose issues they face on a daily basis, and have open and honest discussions about them. 

When Adam Catzavelos made racist comments on social media this week, for example, young people used Twitter to launch boycotts against his companies, suppliers, and restaurants, and his name started trending. The ripple effect quickly did its work, as clients too started disassociating themselves and their businesses from him.

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Young people are no longer operating from a place a fear. They have created a different and interesting kind of activism; one in which you are forced to listen and understand all views, and one that really peels back the layers of a broken society, so you can see how you can move forward as a unit. 

Young people have become the driving force behind a “no nonsense” South Africa, and we do it by disrupting the norm in order to reconstruct new ways of being and belonging. And that’s how we uphold Mandela’s legacy; we continue to fight for a better tomorrow and a better future for generations to come.

The Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 is presented and hosted by The Motsepe Foundation, with major partners House of Mandela, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Nedbank, Vodacom, Coca Cola Africa, Big Concerts, BMGF Goalkeepers, Eldridge Industries, and associate partners HP and Microsoft.