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Onwards and Upwards with Madiba

2016 has been an incredible year in many respects: there have been promising peaks and plenty of depressing valleys, heartwarming highs and challenging lows, but after everything the year has thrown at us we can all still say this: we are still here! And, more importantly, we are still here together.

No matter what 2017 may bring, no matter what victories or hardships lie just beyond the horizon, if we band together we can continue to move our beloved country both onwards and upwards: #SAMustRise

In that spirit, I want to share the final three paragraphs from Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “The Long Walk to Freedom,” to provide some perspective on the year that was, the struggles that were, and the responsibility we all share moving forward…

“It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that that is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just the beginning.

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibility, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”


Chris Wheeler

24 December 2016


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