AS South Africa and the world mark 100 years this week since the birth of father of the nation Nelson Mandela, Wentworth remembers the huge impression he left during his solitary visit to the area soon after his inauguration as the country’s first democratically elected leader.
The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) installed a rock and memorial site near the intersection of Quality Street and Austerville Drive soon after he visited, in remembrance of his legacy.
SDCEA director, Desmond D’sa visited the rock which he and his colleagues erected in 1995, following Mandela’s visit. He visited the area to listen to the local community’s concerns about pollution and the plight of the poor.
In light of Mandela Day, which is marked annually on 18 July, D’Sa encouraged people to start realising how little it takes to contribute towards making a better society.
“We should ensure we do our bit to make one change at a time and make the change for people who are the least recognised in society, which includes the poor and destitute. Those are the people we should be doing things for,” he added.
The United Nations said the centenary of Mandela’s birth is an occasion to reflect on his life and legacy, and to follow his call to ‘make of the world a better place’. The Nelson Mandela Foundation has dedicated this year’s Mandela Day to ‘Action Against Poverty’, honouring Nelson Mandela’s leadership and devotion to fighting poverty and promoting social justice for all
D’Sa calls on people to practise what Mandela stood for. Having met Madiba in his prime, he described him as a humble and caring man. “One of his very attributes was that he was never served. No-one served Mandela. There was a notion that he was a servant as he served other people and always gave people a chance and acted on the beliefs of the community. He united people and encouraged them to challenge those who demean their power. This encouraged myself and four others to go to the captains of the petrol and chemical industries and with the encouragement of Mandela, we challenged them. From there we started to grow and then we understood that the power was in the people and no matter who had the most money, people learned to stand up for themselves.
D’Sa has soldiered on in the fight against pollution which has plagued the South of Durban for many years, and like Mandela, he pledged not to stop until the people at grassroots level are heard and helped. “We will continue his work as a servant to the people and with our work in the environmental field we will empower people to stand up and shout out,” he added.