Overall, I thought Dear Mandela was really interesting, particularly the comparison of the actions of the ANC and Slum’s Act to the apartheid regime. During this documentary, we were shown how slums, or informal settlements were outlawed by the government and the results this had on those living in these shack dwellings — namely, being poor and homeless. However, we also saw how a group of people stood up against the government, in this case the ANC, to protect those living in shack dwellings. Ultimately, the success of this movement was more interesting than motivational as it demonstrated how this fight for justice is a never-ending cycle and perhaps the apartheid regime was just one piece of a larger puzzle.
While I would never call a horrific event like apartheid in South Africa a necessary evil, I think, in a way it did serve a purpose – particularly for the current youth in South Africa. As seen in this documentary, the youth of South Africa were very active in supporting the cause in fighting the ANC over the Slum’s Act. I think apartheid served to motivate the current youth by showing them that through action, determination, and passion, people can enact change. With this in mind, rather than letting the situation get out of control, the younger generation recognized that by taking action against the ANC and bringing the government to court, they too could enact a change.
In addition, these youths seemed to value education in their lives, something I initially did not think many youths in South Africa did. Therefore, continuing with the theme of empowered youths, this documentary quoted teens very eloquently and passionately speaking out about their beliefs regarding the Slum’s Act.
Mazwi, a young man, who was highlighted throughout the documentary stated,
“Education is key, it is very hard to evict people who are educated about the laws and their rights.”
In my opinion, this was one of the major issues during apartheid. People knew they deserved better, but the government had such a strict hold on them through Bantu Education Acts that they were not educated enough to speak accurately about their rights. Similarly, during Sallama Shaker’s presentation, she too stressed the importance of educating our youth in order to enact changes in the government. She explained how religion has become the scapegoat for justifying the oppression of women in the Islamic religion. However, if people took the time to educate themselves on the true meaning of the Koran, they would see that in actuality, the Koran supports women’s rights. Ultimately, both these situations portray why education is imperative in order to create a just, fair, and modern society, as when individuals know and understand what should be allotted to them, it becomes hard for other individuals to tell them otherwise.
Finally, I found the concluding statements of this documentary intriguing and rather thought provoking. Again, a young man vocalized his thoughts explaining his reasons for participating in this cause, citing,
“When you die you don’t want the obituary to say you were born, you ate, you died… you don’t want to be just an ordinary man, you want to be the man amongst all men…”
This statement reminded me of the Muhammed Yunus discussion, particularly when he asked the audience, “what are we here for?” While I do not feel the need to be “the man amongst all other men” it made me wonder how I would be remembered, were I to die tomorrow. A morbid thought I know, but a rather useful and productive one as well.
After thinking about it, I would hope that people would have kind things to say, and I ultimately think they would … for the most part. However, it makes me more cognizant of my actions and attitudes on a day-to-day basis. Personally, I know I take things many aspects of my life for granted. It is not something I am proud of and is something I consciously try to keep in mind. However, I think it is imperative not to take the people in our lives for granted. In terms of actions, I personally believe that little actions are what people will remember. Therefore, I want to portray myself in the best manner on a daily basis by being kind and supportive to those around me.