The post-Madiba generation is fumbling the baton


The post-Madiba generation is fumbling the baton

That we’ve been retiring when it’s our turn to step up is not hard to understand


In the past weeks SA has mourned the deaths of George Bizos and Achmat Dangor. In July Andrew Mlangeni, the last surviving Rivonia trialist, died. It’s hard not to feel that a generation of South Africans — lionhearted, ethical, inspirational — are irretrievably on their way out.

And what of us? The next generations, left to pick up the baton? You’d think we’d seize it and run as if our lives and this country’s future depended on it (which they do). Instead, it’s hard not to feel that the generation handed the baton, now in full maturity, is weighing it puzzlingly, wondering whether they should sell it, toss it or melt it down.

I’ve always been intrigued by a friend’s observation that our generation — born roughly between 1960 and 1980 — has never assumed leadership in public life in quite the way it should. Of course there are exceptions. And the giants of our past were exceptions too — it was hardly a generation homogeneous in its heroism. But the exceptions then did not seem quite so few as they do today...

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