Washington DC has a fair share of things to do, and a lot of places to visit; amongst such is a long list of Memorial Monuments. From Washington Monument and Lincoln Monument, to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and everything in-between, DC has got more sightseeing than an eye can dare see, and they all look mighty and glorious.
I hate boring you with details but it is necessary in painting the massiveness of these monuments; please allow me: The War Memorial for instance has 4 bronze columns that want to touch clouds, 4 bronze eagles and 1 bronze laurel within each pavilion, 24 bronze bas relief sculptures along the ceremonial entrance (12 on each side), 4,000 sculpted gold stars on the Freedom Wall, 112 bronze wreaths, 56 bronze ropes between the pillars I will not even try to describe the splendor of the Lincoln Memorial; our tour-guide jokingly said “this is a Temple of the American god, Lincoln.” That being the case there was an odd one out, “The Vietnam Memorial Monument.” The walls are sunk into the ground, with the earth behind them. The highest tip is only 3 meters high. The stone for the wall came from India, and was deliberately chosen because of its reflective quality.
This Monument honors the servicemen who went to support South Vietnam in a war that was not theirs to fight. They never got any support for the support they gave to South Vietnam and were highly criticized for part taking in this war which lead to a huge loss of life. “Those engraved in the black granite marble stone went to a land they never knew to fight for a people they never knew” our tour-guide said. It is said that one of the survivors of the Vietnam War was asked a question we would all want to ask anyone who fights for people they do not know nor related to…why do you even care? His response was “I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak against it not in anger but in anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world.”
The mirror effect of the granite stone creates and harmonizing reflective space, as I looked at this long list of names, I realized that I was looking at myself, as much as I was looking at them I was looking at myself through them. I realized that the true measure of a men is not where he stands when times are comfortable for him, but where he stands when times are uncomfortable for his fellow-men, our worth is measured by our ability to stand against injustice even if we do not have to.
The words engraved in Martin Luther King JR. Monument came to life for me “ Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere, we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny, whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Alabama, 1963
After spending 6 full months with this team of young South Africans, I am at a point where I realise that the future of this country looks just FINE…
Program directors, members of the board, esteemed guests, University representatives, Sponsors, friends of SAWIP, parents, my SAWIP Team mates and fellow South Africans, Good-evening.
My name is Mandilakhe Cecil Lwana, a student of physiotherapy from the University of the Western Cape, a member of the SAWIP Team of 2013; above all I am a lover and a citizen of this beautiful country.
I was born in a small village called Mdingi, just outside King William`s Town in the Eastern Cape. But tonight I will spare you the details of my personal struggles of growing up in the rural Eastern Cape, with the humbling knowledge of those who experienced far worse and far greater.
I have been given a momentous task of sharing my 6 month SAWIP experience in less than 5 minutes and unfortunately I am a slow talker by nature.
SAWIP is a program that allowed us to explore all the different facets that make up our South Africa and the challenges our nation is facing. SAWIP ushered us into a place of becoming problem solvers.
However SAWIP has done more than that. SAWIP has brought together 17 different minded individuals who might have never met, it did not only teach them how to work together but made them friends, who are united in their diversity.
It is no easy task grooming young diverse South Africans. You need to be able to instill confidence without reaching arrogance. You need to impress meekness without expressing weakness. You need to appreciate diversity but not at the expense of unity, in order to realise the dreams of Former Preseident and Father of our Nation, Nelson Mandela about a Rainbow Nation. The dreams of young leaders leading our young country to a better tomorrow for all who live in it.
This is especially relevant as we realises the mortality of Nelson Mandela I think we can find comfort in the immortality of the lessons and values He has taught us not only through his speech but also in deeds. If Nelson Mandela was here tonight he would be proud to see this… young people willing to learn from their elders, old people willing to teach the young. He will be proud to see South Africans who are concerned of the future of South Africa.
Many times we have been told that we are future leaders, change agents of tomorrow; tonight I know the future that has been spoken about has finally arrived. SAWIP has created within me a heightened sense of urgency to pursue solutions that our country needs so badly.
Tonight I am honoured to have known a team that has the audacity.
- The audacity to believe that every citizen can have 3 meals a day for their bodies.
- A team that has the audacity to believe that every citizen can have an education and culture for their minds
- A team that has the audacity to believe that every citizen can have Dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits…
…and are determined to work towards it until it flows through all the cracks of our society like mighty streams.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my team for challenging and inspired me to be fearless and selfless in serving our South Africa. SAWIP changed my story, awakened me to a pivotal sense of urgency regarding my contribution to South Africa.
… for that all that, ,Thank you!