OPINION: May spirit of Mandela Day continue throughout the year

Columnist Phiri Cawe.

With nearly a month having passed since Mandela Day, I wonder how many do-gooders have gone back to check on the people they fed or the initiatives they supported as they offered 67 minutes of service in honour of the late president Nelson Mandela.

Albeit with good intentions, many of us will have given the homeless a day’s food but we never go back and check on them again. We plant a tree and turn our back on it in the hope that rain will fall and nurture it. If you went out to do some good on Mandela Day, allow me ask you, have you gone back to the project you were helping to check how it is doing?

You can respond to your conscience, not me.

For 67 minutes on Mandela Day, the disregarded people on the streets got royal treatment. Many of the same people who had their blankets confiscated as the City of Cape Town fined homeless people living on the streets, were treated to a party on Mandela Day.

We are thespians.

The fines were meant to force them to adhere to the City’s by-laws. But I asked myself how were the homeless people going to pay the fines if I cannot even afford the cost of electricity.

Be that as it may, I feel Mandela Day is being used wrongly by wrong people too.

If people with money care so much about the homeless and other less fortunate people, why don’t they do something good on a daily basis? I have a number of suggestions as to how they can spend their money.

Why can’t they sponsor some sport clubs in poor areas or give out bursaries to children from poor backgrounds?

I know there are some good people who do that, but not as many as there are dishing out good deeds on July 18.

On Mandela Day we have stopped being creative. All we can come up with is giving soup to the men on the streets. We will provide blankets to them, irrespective of the rains or the fact that they have no shelter. It’s like the homeless have become a project for companies and government.

When politicians campaign, they never speak about them but when Mandela Day approaches, every government department wants to do something for them.

And then no one speaks about them beyond Mandela Day. Law enforcement will return to terrorising them because, they will tell you, “I am only doing my job”.I’m not saying we should not mark Mandela Day or that we should not help others. I am asking that we think of those less fortunate throughout the year and that we don’t abuse the name of Madiba.

I thank Mandela for his love for people. Aah! Dalibhunga. Long live the spirit of Rolihlahla Mandela long live.