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Mandela Day 2021 - South Africa Needs More than 67 Minutes

By Claudine Ribeiro - Director of JPCCC


18 July. Mandela Day in South Africa. It is generally a time of hope and excitement, the chance to remember a man so rich in the human spirit and qualities of forgiveness, optimism, strength, and courage. In the recent past, we have used this day as an opportunity to remodel ourselves on this great man, even if only for just 67 minutes, and to take the opportunity to think of those other than ourselves.

18 July 2021. A sombre time in our history, as South Africans slowly contemplate a new reality in this country, a place now wounded and severely compromised in so many ways. The truths of our nation are staring at us in the face, and we can no longer avoid them. The truth of inequality, severe poverty, political instability and extreme corruption, racism, and division. All factors that are threatening our livelihoods and our lives. Lurking in the shadows of this chaos is the ever-present threat of Covid.

Whilst it is true that the medical fraternity is bearing the brunt of the pandemic and carrying us through such a severe challenge, and our police, army, and civil organizations must now work together to bring peace and quiet to a ravaged country, where does this leave the mental health professions?

We are the ones waiting in the wings, sharpening our bows, and making ready for the future fight of our lives. For what blight will all of this have on the collective psyche of our nation, and in turn on the hearts and minds of our people? From the anxious matriculant desperately trying to download past papers and access some form of learning by candlelight, to the fraught small business owner who has lost his livelihood and has to let go of so many dependent staff. What of our children who cannot attend school, and our employees who have faced deprivation and lack of food during this time of siege? And the exhausted nurses and doctors who are caring for the sick? And each one of us who have mourned someone very dear to us.

For we are the clean-up operation, the support and nurturing where country, politics, greed and illness have let us down. We are yet to become the unsung heroes of this ravaged nation. It will be our task to listen, support, nurture, empathise, motivate, absorb, upskill, and gently push forward our hurt people and our damaged minds. We will have to dig deeply inside of our own spirit of brokenness and pain and use this to push forward in bringing about a different sort of healing, one that enables people to face their realities, and to get on with living despite their obstacles, their grief and their trauma.

This Mandela Day, we ask you to spare a thought for this hidden army, as this is not a fight that we can win on our own. Let us use whatever reserves of courage and strength that lie deeply hidden in each one of us, as did our precious Madiba, and work together to rise above the prison of our minds. In the words of JRR Tolkien “Hold your ground, hold your ground. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. “

Claudine Ribeiro



You can support the work of JPCCC, in our plight to offer mental health services to all.

Donations would be welcome and can be made to JPCCC, Standard Bank, 404359000.

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