by Puleng Matsaneng
On Monday 18 July we celebrated the birthday of our late former statesman, Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. He was a true legend who made significant contributions throughout the world and made us feel proud to be South Africans. He left a legacy not only for us in South Africa but for many people in the world. He was a president who was concerned about all that was happening in the country. An issue which was particularly close to his heart was the HIV-AIDS epidemic.
He worked hard not only to show his support, but also to understand how this epidemic could be managed. Last week there was an international HIV-AIDS conference in Durban. The AIDS epidemic has been around and is still going to be around, sadly, for some time to come. On Tuesday South African vice-president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said that, statistically, 2000 people per week are being infected by HIV. The figures are not decreasing, they are increasing daily.
With these shocking statistics it is clear that we cannot leave it to government alone to curb the spread of HIV-AIDS. In the spirit of Mandela’s legacy and Mandela Day, perhaps we all need to heed the call to give 67 minutes to this cause. We need to be active. It should not be a once-off engagement but rather a way of life. People need to live their 67 minutes at least once a month, not only one day in July. We need to have a 67 minutes attitude!
This attitude should be embedded in our politics. We should see it in our manifestos. We must live the spirit of 67 minutes. This could be in the way we address each other and the way we keep and apply the promises we make – especially during times when political campaigns are undertaken.
67 minutes should be spiritual too. The story of the Good Samaritan was and still is a 67 minutes moment. The 67 minutes has a giver and receiver, the receiver goes through a moment of bliss in receiving and the giver also goes through a moment of bliss.
We used to live in an era when the stigma attached to someone with HIV-AIDS was, in itself, a failure of society to realise the core of what 67 minutes means. If, when we sit and reflect, we come to realise that we have failed people with HIV, then we hopefully realised that we have not embraced the 67 minutes campaign.
We need to challenge politicians. Votes must not be about the party colours but about the spirit of “togetherness” which is embedded in the 67 minutes idea. Your contribution to 67 minutes can change our country and lead us to a better tomorrow. Who doesn’t want to be a Good Samaritan and share their 67 minutes?