All three, Madiba, Johnny Clegg and James Small are South African heroes. Black or white, young or old will agree that these giants whom, within their own field of peace, music and sport – devoted their talent to bring a nation together.

All can also attest that when Clegg’s song ‘Impi’ was played the natural inclination was to turn up the volume of the radio, move to the beat and sing along. Those songs from the band Juluka and Suvuka which Clegg performed with – remains South African’s greatest hits and perhaps even an anthem for our freedom.

James Small took to the rugby field with great passion with the team when the Springboks brought the World Cup back home in 1995. It was due to Madiba’s spirit that the nation celebrated such victory, a sport such as rugby (which was considered a white dominated sport) got the nation talking and celebrating together. During the month of July, both Small and Clegg passed on leaving a great legacy in South Africa which has undeniably contributed to the development of music and sport of the nation. These legends have surpassed their fields but have untied people through diversity.

With the experience of travel from a young age, I have met people from so many different nationalities and cultures. From experience, I can also say the view of South Africa (when in a different country) is interesting. When travelling back in the day as a school-goer, I was met with the words, “Oh you are from South Africa – the same country that has apartheid right?” To nowadays, “Oh, you are from South Africa – the great land of Nelson Mandela!” Both being such powerful words – impactful in so many ways. Of course, with the former dialogue having such heavy negative connotation to the next era filled with hope and positivity. Madiba has left a global footprint. Not only have we as South Africans benefitted from his struggle of truth and freedom but Madiba’s mark as a great leader has made a huge impact to the global circle. Madiba was a leader, not a politician – a man who had greatness in his being and a vision for all. His ability to forgive coupled with an untouchable strong mind is what fascinates me.

This brings me to consider how (as human beings) we often struggle with the aspect of forgiveness in relationships and the journey of healing is not always easy. Just imagine a lifetime of personal and professional sacrifice of which Madiba endured for the betterment of the nation, did not hamper his strength to forgive those who had caused his personal pain and suffering for so long.

Madiba’s heart rested in the upliftment of children through education. Being in the classroom, I see the disparity within the education system. Although we are over two decades into democracy and now have a generation of born-free youngsters, we are still plagued with the injustices of the education and healthcare fraternities. The poor are deprived of basic rights, with proper education and healthcare that still come at a hefty price. Should we analyse our current trends in education, there is so much more that can be achieved. Madiba’s contribution to our nation and the world will forever be remembered not only during Mandela Day but everyday. Through his vision, sacrifice and great leadership, we are able to enjoy the pleasures of having rights and responsibilities and enjoying a country where the natural resources are rightfully ‘free’ for all.

In order to honour these heroes, we have to continue their spirit of togetherness. Sadly, a nation suffers where there is selfishness in leadership so be the change, carry the legacy as the duty rests with each citizen.