It is in our hands

Luvuyo Mandela is a One Young World Ambassador from South Africa and the great-grandson of Mr. Nelson Mandela. 

“It is in your hands.” This was the closing statement of a speech delivered in July 2007, by a then frail but very determined Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. 

A rock star of another breed, Dhalibunga was on stage to address a cheering crowd of what would be the last 46664 - Four Double Six, Six Four – concert in Hyde Park, London. After sharing the significance of 46664 and how he had commissioned its revitalisation, he ended with passing on his generation’s torch and encouraging all of us to continue the legacy his peers had created. 

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Dhalibunga’s generation had a profound belief in the goodness and undying strength of humanity. And they were an amazing group that lived what they believed. After facing seemingly insurmountable circumstances that came with life sentences that would see their names become numbers for almost 3 decades, they overcame and worked to reconcile with their oppressors and their oppressive instruments. We can always have lengthy debates about their shortcomings but we can agree that it’s what makes them human. We can all agree that they were human after all, ordinary people who together achieved extraordinary feats.

Dhalibunga and his peers were ordinary people who decided enough was enough. They refused the status quo and the world’s impositions. Our struggle heroes and heroines came from all walks of life representing an impressive range of people and generations who came together for a single cause. From Chieftaincies in small remote villages to poverty stricken homes in systematically degenerated migrant communities. They worked together to free themselves in order to free one another. The poignancy of a man using his prison number as a vehicle to liberate humanity from the scourge of HIV and AIDS, speaks volumes of the caliber of Dhalibunga’s generation. Never shy to tell others that the great feats were the result of collective and deliberate efforts of a critical mass of people who lived what they believed.

It is in your hands. Heavy right? Of course it is! But only if we have the audacity to think their legacy is something we can carry as individuals. The liberation of our people is a reality today because many stood up to be counted. It is in your hands – five little words that have come to mean much more than us holding onto a fading dream. There are countless idioms used to illustrate the importance of collective effort many amounting to the fact that an individual has never, at any point in history, changed our world. Sure individuals may have been the face, leader, or driver of that change, but few feats worth mentioning have been achieved by one person acting alone.

The United Nations declared the 18th of July Nelson Mandela International Day, giving the world an opportunity to live their profound belief in the goodness and undying strength of humanity. It is now seven years later and quite clearly in OUR hands to change our world for the better. The old man and some of his peers are no longer with us but their parting message still rings loud and clear. We need to continue with the determination of a brave generation and cultivate a collective understanding; that it is in OUR hands to change the world for the better.

Our world is complex, multi-layered and ever changing with technological advancements proving both gift and curse in everything they make possible and impossible. We juggle responsibly developing sustainable economies to feed our people and planet while feverishly working to preserve the many dying cultures of the world. What is both gift and curse needs to become our saving grace. Dhalibunga and his dedicated generation were able to galvanize the world around their liberation struggle in an era that was far less interconnected than ours. It is in OUR hands to learn how to use our resources to build our generation’s legacy. They freed the world with shackled hands. What will we do with our hands free to do as we please?