Graça Machel

Photo: AFP/Gulshan Khan

Graça Machel: ‘I cannot sit quietly as the land of Madiba’s birth wages war with itself’

‘Madiba is watching this beloved country of his. And in his resolute determination, which has always guided us in the darkest hours of our history.’

Graça Machel

Photo: AFP/Gulshan Khan

On the eve of Nelson Mandela‘s birthday, his widow, Graça Machel said she ‘cannot sit quietly as the land of his birth wages war with itself.’

She said the past week had been a torturous one for South Africa.

“Weary yet determined, we have been valiantly swimming against the current to overcome the Third Wave of COVID-19, and we have now been mercilessly plunged into the dark and painful waters of civil unrest.”

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Machel said scores of our fellow South Africans have met their untimely death.

“The more than 100 of our brothers and sisters who have died will remain a stain on the conscience of those who have purposefully troubled our waters.”

According to Machel the political violence, racial tensions, and the debilitating lawlessness experienced have no place in South Africa.

“In my desperation, however, I take heart in the recollection that we have been through troubled times before. And I am reminded of Madiba’s indomitable spirit which was a beacon of light for us through that darkness.

“And I am sure that from up there where he is, he is watching this beloved country of his. And in his resolute determination, which has always guided us in the darkest hours of our history, he reminds us that we can overcome any challenge if we keep focus on what is just, what is right, and the unfinished work of what has to be done to bring us closer to an existence of dignity for us all.”

Madiba’s leadership guides us in this moment. We must be courageous enough to interrogate and remedy the underlying causes of our discord, Machel said.

He is here.

He is with us.

He is lending his spirit to strengthen us.

And if we allow it, his legacy can anchor us as we navigate this storm and guide us to a brighter shore.

She urged South Africans to bring the best of themselves to the table.

“We are an extraordinary people. Our ancestors have gifted us unique resilience and fortitude. Let us support ethical leadership and the rule of law. And remember we are all leaders in our own right. We have influence in our communities.”

Machel said her heart was warmed to see hundreds of ordinary citizens displaying incredible leadership these past few days with volunteers protecting their neighbourhoods,
young and old lending helping hands in clean-up efforts,
and citizens from across the country donating food supplies and financial resources to those most in need.

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“I stand with you who have protected your communities and prevented the spread of violence.

“This Mandela Day, and every day, let us be guided by the example Madiba has gifted us.

“It is in our hands.

“A peaceful and prosperous society for us all is within our reach.”