Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive officer Sello Hatang has opened up about former Statesman Nelson Mandela and said that Mandela had had a way of making people feel special around him.
He was speaking to Polity at the book launch of the book I Remember Nelson Mandela, a collection of stories by the people who worked with Mandela.
“Madiba would introduce himself to people. From that moment, the eye contact, you are the focus of that moment. I think he made you feel at ease, he made you feel important and he made you feel that you own the space. The space is yours and it’s your moment with him. Every person would feel as if they owned Madiba for that moment and that was important,” shared Hatang.
Hatang said that as the country was celebrating Madiba’s centenary this year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation was trying to build a values-based society.
“It is because of a lack of values that we find ourselves where we are, where there is no solidarity with the poor, there is no caring for the common cause of building a more united country that is free of racism, free of all forms of discrimination, poverty and inequality,” said Hatang.
He also added that South Africans needed to find the Madiba in themselves, by trying to be good people.
Hatang reiterated that South Africans needed to try to live and be the Madiba legacy.
An exhibition will be travelling across the world for five years as part of the centenary, starting in Melbourne in Australia.
Former US President Barack Obama will deliver the annual lecture on July 17, which will then be followed by lectures by local academics and friends of Madiba.
“We want to remember Madiba, not about his past but remember our responsibility for building the 100 years that’s coming. We want a child who will be celebrating Madiba in the next 100 years, who we wouldn’t be thinking of them now, for them to say that [Madiba] built a foundation for me to be able to take it forward,” said Hatang.
He added that South Africans should reflect on the centenary of Albertina Sisulu and on the anniversaries of icons such as Steve Biko and added that South Africans should ask themselves “what am I doing to help build the country of my dreams?”
“It’s about dreaming. We are a country of dreamers, a country of action takers but also a country that knows that we have a responsibility as individuals to build a country for the future,” he concluded.