Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela. Today Nelson Mandela celebrates his 92nd birthday. South Africans have been asked to give 67 minutes to uplifting South Africa. I find myself at this moment sitting on a plane a few thousand kilometers above this wonderful country of which I am so proud of, thinking of a way in which I can pay tribute to this man with my 67 minutes. And so, I realized that I could spend the next 67 minutes writing this post and giving thought to all the things that South Africa has done for me, and meant to me over the years, in the hope that it will do the same for those who read it. Firstly, it’s important to note that Nelson Mandela is an idol of mine. Many years ago, I was asked during a Life-line Personal growth course. “who is your idol?”. This question raised some anxiety in me. I was against idolizing any human being. We all have flaws and we all contribute to this world, however small. However, instead of saying I don’t have one, out from the back of my mind I realized I did have an idol, and I found myself saying mine was Nelson Mandela. The reason for this is largely based on his ability to forgive. One of the hardest traits to master of our humanness is forgiveness. Our ego usually gets in the way. We have been schooled and brought up with the notion of fairness. Those who do wrong will therefore never succeed and the scales will be balanced. All to often, we feel we are the one who should administer the balance of the scales. No one has taught forgiveness by example more for South Africa than Nelson Mandela. I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity in 1994 of meeting him in person and sharing a few words. During the late eighties and early nineties many South Africans fled our beautiful shores based on a fear of South Africa’s future. Today they still carry with them something they will never lose, an affinity and joy for all things South African, and a part of their cultural makeup. I was studying at the time and remained optimistic about the potential future that hung in the balance. Could we pull this unified nation off? Looking back over all those years, I think the answer is an overwhelming yes. The people of South Africa have done this, and the leadership of Nelson Mandela guiding us through those early years of transition contributed a major part to this success. And so, here I am, giving thought to what it means to me to be a South African. To me it means:
- Being proud of what has been achieved over the past 16 years.
- Being free to express the part of my culture that makes me uniquely South African. A combination of heritage and an ever-evolving aspect of my present daily interactions.
- Immense pride at our World Class World Cup achievement.
- Opportunity. As an entrepreneur in South Africa, I see awesome ability and great market opportunity. We can both contribute and take part in the global economy.
- Beauty. Our land holds awesome beauty. I have yet to see a country that holds as much diversity and splendor as ours.
- Technology. We have first world technology. Yes we could always have faster bandwidth, but hey I work from Greyton with an ADSL connection and feel as connected as if I was working in a big city.
- Energy. In our people and in the earth. South Africans have a reputation as being great workers overseas. We have an innate spirit of energy and it spills over into all that we do.
- Resilience. South Africans bounce back when adversity strikes. Not only in business but also in our personal lives, our history has taught us to continue when the going get tough.
- Our Sun. Our weather creates positivity. From the crisp sunny winter days in Johannesburg to the glorious windless summer days of Cape Town in February. The rain brings sustenance and the sun energy for our country to grow.