Tata Madiba’s name flips glibly over many tongues today.

Some who hold him in high esteem were silent when he was incarcerated. They did nothing to support his vision of a united non-racial, non-sexist South Africa free from poverty. They only came near when the benefits started flowing in. But that is in the past. It cannot be changed.

Today there are those who do nothing to help understand one of his central goals – the self-determination of the African people. They do nothing to understand that he showed leadership under difficult circumstances and brought antagonists together.

Take a company like Woolworths. They show no leadership. They refuse to meet with their antagonists, those advocating a boycott of the stores because they sell Israeli products. If we were to ask them, they would say they love Madiba. But what do their day to day actions say?

Madiba Memorial

Madiba Memorial

Look at the behaviour of the president and members of parliament. How is this an expression of the Madiba way?

Look at some of our academics and journalists who spread doom and gloom without providing the balance citizens need to function? Is this an expression of the Madiba way?

Look at some of our business people who worship profit and take, take and take.

As we commemorate his death next week, let’s use it as a time for self-reflection and ask how we can learn from his example by fully understanding his technique of engagement.

Let us ask ourselves whether we have learnt from this great teacher or whether we are engaged in idol worship that makes no impact on our conduct.

Zubeida Jaffer is the Publisher of The Journalist.