- POSTED: 01 Jan 2014 18:42
This graph is an experimental feature that tracks number of views over time.
With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, the world's attention was briefly focused on a continent that does not often make it into the headlines. His death has reignited an age old debate: what does it mean to be an African?
JOHANNESBURG: With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, the world's attention was briefly focused on a continent that does not often make it into the headlines.
What was noticeable with Mandela's death was how the icon was mourned by everyone, particularly in his own country, South Africa, where for decades people were deeply divided along racial lines.
Mandela crossed those lines and his death has reignited an age old debate: what does it mean to be an African?
When the former South African president was buried, he was hailed as a son of Africa, the same continent that FW de Klerk -- the last apartheid president of South Africa -- laid claim to.
As did Thabo Mbeki, who followed Mandela into presidency and famously delivered his "I am an African" speech.
The debate has been reignited: what is an African?
Max Boqwana, director of law firm Boqwana Burns, said: "The mantra of colonialism was to regard people from Africa as something less than human. And it’s important now that we begin to find ourselves collectively.”
While many Africans strongly believe the continent belongs to all who live in it, both black and white, in South Africa, a black, armed militia group has been stepping up its public rallies.
It has posted internet incitement messages calling for white South Africans to be killed, under the slogan "One Bullet, One Settler”.
When South Africa's President Jacob Zuma sang this song last year, many whites felt their time was up.
South African filmmaker Chad Meyer said: "Some people say that white people don’t belong here, and that we are not South African. My ancestors were here so long ago that I don’t even know where they’re from.”
Sandile Memela is a South African blogger and journalist who writes extensively on the subject.
For him, the answer of who is an African is clear.
Mr Memela said: "An African is anyone who chooses to be African. An African is defined as someone who is not only born in the continent but owes allegiance, patriotic commitment, to the African countries and the continent.”
Artist Ben Nsusha uses art to express his ‘Africanness’. He tries to portray the beauty of the land and its people through his paintings
Mr Nshusa said: "When I was studying in Britain, and because I wanted my ‘Africanness’ to be more prominent. I made it a point that all the marks that I put on a canvas, all the marks I put on a piece of paper, all that I am talking – the ideas and everything – should remain African.”
The passing of Mandela, for many, represents the end of an era. From across the globe, mourners of all backgrounds grieved his death.
One of his greatest teachings was the power of humanity. As he did in life, he united people in death.
Africa has recently lost one of its greatest sons. Mandela once said his wish for the continent was for it to be at peace with itself, and maybe that is what being an African is about.