Mandelia is the name to unite South Africans

Rhodes>Perspective>2013 Archive

SOUTH Africans always find ways to divide themselves along racial lines. Take a simple case of white-on-white violence.

"If Oscar Pistorius was black he'd be sitting with leg irons in prison until his trial two years from now," says the popular view.

It is impossible for South Africans to transcend race because their whole genetic make up has adapted to surviving in a racially charged world. We wear our racial defences the way a duck wears its plumes. South Africa is about racism, you are either for it or against it, and those who say "I don't see colour" are dismissed as hypocrites.

Expecting South Africans to survive in a non-racial environment is like expecting fish to thrive in trees.

Our public holidays and our monuments are either a celebration of whites conquering blacks, or blacks mourning white people's conduct. It is hard to unite victor and victim because, unlike with computers, our memories cannot be erased. Even the national anthem is failing to unite us, as people of different races fail to learn the part of the "others".

The name South Africa is the cage that restricts the souls of its people to open their wings and soar. It is time to rebrand our country. The people of this land are resilient.

We all have a sad story to tell, whether it is being a victim of apartheid, a victim of crime or losing a loved one through a car accident.

We are revolutionaries by nature as we can be violently intolerant to injustice, which is why we feel as much pain for the murderer as we do for the victim. We also have an incredible sense of humour. We love to laugh.

We love music and our president must, first and foremost, be a good dancer.

So I propose a name that will unite most of us, Mandelia. It will boost our self-confidence as we stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbours from countries such as Namibia and Zambia.

I choose Mandelia because Nelson Mandela is this land's greatest export and contribution to the world. Great men and women who have come from the most meagre of means and then gone on to change the world make the rest of us feel majestic, and that we too can overcome the most difficult of obstacles. He is the epitome of that.

Imagine living in a country named after an exalted man who is a living example of the triumph of the human spirit rather than a hurtful reminder of an unsavoury history. Imagine yourself doing business in the economic capitals of the world and telling people that you come from a country called Mandelia.

Imagine your own identity inextricably linked to one of the most loved people in the world, Nelson Mandela.

Picture Caption: Former president Nelson Mandela

Picture Source: SUNDAY TIMES


Muzi Kuzwayo, an Old Rhodian, is the author of Black Man's Medicine

This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times