67 people who honour the legacy of Madiba

For my 67 minutes on Mandela Day, I praise 67 people who shaped and influenced my life. Each praised person represents Madiba’s values. 

I begin with my mother, Sarah Jansen (1), who taught me the value of hard work. Without her steely determination and sense of purpose, I would not be here today. And thank you for that smack to the face at the age of five for not greeting a complete stranger as he passed before us.

There are people whose very words of courage carry Madiba’s authority in their writings like Max du Pree (40), Ferial Haffejee (41), Justice Malala (42), Ryland Fisher (43), Sam Sole (44), Judith February (45), Rhoda Kadalie (46), Poppy Louw (47), Jan-Jan Joubert (48), Ruda Landman (49), John Robbie (50), Redi Tlabi (51) and Mondli Makhanya (52).

Yet far from the spotlight of public attention the following Mandela-type change agents work quietly to restore our schools every single day: Muavia Gallie (53), Johan Volsteedt (54), Corvell Cranfield (55), Louise van Ryn (56).

If reconciliation is Madiba’s greatest legacy, these are the public bridge builders today: Pumla Gobodo Madikizela (57 scholar), Olga Macingwane (58 bomb victim), Stan Henkeman (59 leader), Tali Nates (60 speaker), Ginn Fourie (61 victim family) and Rudi Buys (62 youth leader).

The spirit of Mandela is captured in the lives of those who achieve great things on a world stage and yet remain the most humble of citizens, like Wayde van Niekerk (63, 400m world champion), Rolene Strauss (64 Ms World), Pretty Yende (65 opera), Samson Diamond (66 violin).

And one who served him, then and now, Zelda la Grange (67).

No, Mandela is not dead. His life and legacy continues through the work and example of these 67 amazing South Africans.

Professor Jonathan Jansen is vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State

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