|Angelene and John Swart and Corey|
|The shoreline to the east of Cape Town|
|The village of Genadendal|
|Part of the prison on Robben Island|
|Peering into Cell #5|
|The quarry where Mandela was forced to do hard labor and|
ended up with permanent vision and lung damage
At the climate meetings that year, the controversial phrase “climate apartheid” was dubbed. I will leave you to ponder the implications of that concept. But while at the meetings, I wrote the following in a blog post (12/1/11):
Over the last two days, the COP17 President convened an Indaba – an isiZulu word that refers to a gathering of people, infused with wisdom and Ubuntu. I have heard the term Ubuntu several times while in South Africa and vaguely understand it as a philosophy that focuses on community rather than the individual.
Nelson Mandela has stated that “Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?” If there is a scale for how much an individual (or country) abides by this philosophy, the U.S. would be on the very low end.
My comments at the time reflected my frustration with the climate negotiations and our country’s role in blocking progress. But I think the sentiments are relevant to our society more generally. The current debate over corporate profit vs. fair wages in the fast food industry is just one example. Perhaps the best way that we can honor Mandela’s legacy is to begin pondering how we each can work to improve and strengthen community rather than focusing so much on individual gain.