“Let a new age be born!” Nelson Mandela spoke these words while accepting a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He received the award alongside F.W. de Klerk, who was South Africa’s president at the time. Both spoke passionately regarding their home country’s future. The two men, one white and one black, painted a hopeful picture of a nation free from racial tension.
Earlier in his lecture, Mr. Mandela stated, “We live with the hope that as she battles to remake herself, South Africa will be like a microcosm of the new world that is striving to be born.”
He called on his countrymen to devote their lives to the causes of “justice, peace, non-racism, non-sexism, prosperity for everybody, a healthy environment and equality and solidarity among the peoples.”
Mr. de Klerk similarly stated, “What is taking place in South Africa is such a deed—a deed resounding over the earth—a deed of peace. It brings hope to all South Africans. It opens new horizons for Sub-Saharan Africa. It has the capacity to unlock the tremendous potential of our country and our region.”
“The new era which is dawning in our country, beneath the great southern stars, will lift us out of the silent grief of our past and into a future in which there will be opportunity and space for joy and beauty—for real and lasting peace.”
The nation had high aspirations: Unlocked potential. Hope for all. Real peace. A new world striving to be born.
After Mr. Mandela’s death 20 years later, it was evident that his dream still had captured the minds of South Africans. In the streets of the country’s Gauteng Province, home to both the capital, Pretoria, and its largest city, Johannesburg, Mr. Mandela’s image and name were everywhere: signs, banners, posters, T-shirts, stickers. He smiled from the covers of countless magazines, ranging from the most influential weeklies and monthlies to a local used car listing on a gas station counter in Free State, south of Gauteng.
Billboards and bus stop ads read, “Thank you Tata” (a South African equivalent of “daddy”). Another proclaimed, “‘It’s now in Your Hands’ – Thank You Madiba” (the name of Mr. Mandela’s clan and an honorary title for clan elders).
Scanning through television stations in the days following his funeral, tribute pieces filled many channels, alternating with the national pastimes of cricket, rugby and golf. Both the memorial service and the funeral drew large audiences and were broadcast repeatedly. Even sports channels ran their own specials on the event, many focusing on Mr. Mandela’s use of rugby to promote racial harmony at the 1995 World Cup. And when the programming was unrelated to Mr. Mandela, the corner of the screen often featured a graphic: “Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013.”
After Mr. Mandela’s funeral, the official 10-day national mourning period ended. Flags were raised from half-staff to top of staff, and officials unveiled a 30-foot bronze statue of Mr. Mandela in front of the Union (capitol) Buildings, its arms outstretched toward Pretoria’s skyline.
Mr. Mandela’s dream of a bright new age—one for South Africa, the continent, and the entire world—still remains just that, a dream. The nation today is beleaguered by poverty, crime, disease and corruption.
Amid numerous national troubles, will the promised new era ever dawn for South Africa?
After retreating from public life in 2004, Mr. Mandela seldom spoke publicly. It is hard to determine how he viewed the present-day results of the national changes he helped spearhead decades ago.
But now that the eulogies have been archived and the news cycle has moved on, South Africans—black and white—must face the condition of their country as it is, not “as it can be” (in the carefully chosen words of an American commentator, speaking of Mr. Mandela’s legacy).
A summary from the Philippines’ GMA News paints a picture: “…the future of the country for whom Mandela would have died appears to be unsettled.
“The breakdown of peace and order is the primary concern. Almost everyone that I have spoken to here has been a victim of a violent crime: a consul and his wife whose room at a bed and breakfast in the good part of town was broken into, a UN official robbed at gun-point, an elderly Filipina who was hogtied by robbers who broke into her house.
“Senior diplomats have not been spared, triggering security concerns for [Philippine] Vice-President Jejomar Binay’s security who moves around town with only a handful of security personnel. There was the Thai diplomat whose vehicle was hijacked in broad daylight, the Uruguayan Ambassador whose diplomatic residence was broken into. Mrs. Yoko Ramos, our Ambassador’s wife, says that the security concern in genteel Pretoria is so bad that her ‘four-year-old daughter and her yaya [nanny] do not venture into the secure garden of the Philippine Ambassador’s residence’ already located in the best part of town.”
A typical middle-class dwelling features a metal fence with sharp “devil’s fork” tips, often with loops of razor wire at the corners and near any tree on a property’s perimeter. Inside, two locking metal gates precede the front door; another swings from the end of a hallway that leads to the bedrooms. All interior doors are metal and include deadbolts. Motion detectors blink from many corners and all windows are covered with metal “burglar bars.”
A perfect illustration of why these measures are seen as necessary: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, another prominent anti-apartheid figure and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, had his house burglarized—while attending Mr. Mandela’s memorial service.
Statistics back these anecdotes on a number of fronts:
Obviously, this is not the type of environment that Mr. Mandela envisioned for his people. As is so often the case in human history, the gap between aspirations and achievements can be discouraging.
In his autobiography, he wrote, “I am fundamentally an optimist.” While reconciling optimism with day-to-day harsh realities can be difficult in South Africa—and in any nation, depending on time and place—there is a real reason for optimism and hope for the future.
This hope is not naive. You can know with certainty that better times lie just ahead.
Billions recite the words “Thy kingdom come” in prayer yet few understand what this really means. Perhaps not surprisingly, this phrase comes from the Bible in Matthew 6:10. While there are numerous explanations of what this “kingdom” is, there is only one that matters—what God’s Word says.
The major theme of the Bible is a coming supergovernment ruled by Jesus Christ. It is known variously as the “kingdom of God” and the “world to come” (Mark 10:30). (To learn more about this government, read “Why Should You Read the Old Testament?” found in this issue.)
Yet God’s Word also details the awesome future that is just ahead for South Africa—and for all nations. The following excerpts are from the book Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View! written by David C. Pack, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Real Truth.
Economy: “To survive in today’s hostile world, governments must collect exorbitant rates of taxation to finance military forces and expanded law enforcement personnel. Of course, greed on the part of many government leaders accounts for much of the excess taxation that is now so burdensome to so many. As governments expand, they tend to extract more in taxes as a means to redistribute wealth, pursuing the socialistic philosophies that predominate in this world. Outrageous tax rates will be eliminated.
“The administration of God’s government has costs, however. Rather than tax rates ranging from 30 to 90 percent, a tithe—just 10 percent!—will be required. That 10 percent belongs to God (Lev. 27:30). God views this command most seriously: ‘Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it’ (Mal. 3:8-10).
“Most nations have a variety of heavy, burdensome, hidden taxes, and national health and social security services. Ever-mounting taxes become overwhelming to many now struggling to survive. These burdens will be lifted in tomorrow’s world.”
Health: “In tomorrow’s world, people will be universally taught that ‘sin is the transgression of the law’ (I John 3:4). [God has] great spiritual laws, but He has numerous physical laws as well. Mankind has specialized in how to break them all. He is surrounded, therefore, by every kind of bad physical effect. Rampant disease and illness are among the greatest.
“Savor God’s promise regarding the disappearance of disease and sickness in the world tomorrow and what makes this possible: ‘But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us…And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity’ (Isa. 33:21-22, 24).”
“This is what God wants: ‘For I will restore health unto you, and I will heal you of your wounds’ (Jer. 30:17).”
“When fully implemented, the government of God will be a picture of harmony and unity, with all those in administration being the right choice for each job—perfectly qualified for the tasks they face.”
“Through proper re-education of the world, God’s laws of health will become known—and compliance with them will become practical and affordable.”
Cities of tomorrow: “City planners of the future will always be certain to allow enough room for people to enjoy their homes and the land around them. But the planning of this world’s cities has been much different. Overpopulation has translated into overcrowding, with tenement houses teeming with too many people for the space allotted. Row houses are common in many big cities of the world. God says, ‘Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place…’ (Isa. 5:8). Many of today’s cities are better off temporarily becoming waste places. It will be far easier to rebuild them from scratch.
“The cities of the world to come will present a far different—and infinitely better and more beautiful—picture than the cities of today.”
Population/environment: “God has a Master Plan! No man could ever think of it, or bring it to pass if he did. Yet it will solve every problem related to overpopulation, pollution, and production, procurement and distribution of food and water. It will involve a complete change in entire weather patterns around the earth, including ocean currents, jet streams and flow of arctic air. Beautiful, clear water will be available—and in abundance—in all parts of the world. The nature of mountain ranges, islands and even placement of continents will allow a repopulation of earth simply inconceivable to modern planners of cities and nations.”
Internal peace and security: “The streets of cities around the world will soon be safe for all. Look at this description of how Jerusalem, certainly one of the most violent, unsafe cities on earth today, will change: ‘There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof’ (Zech. 8:4-5). Abandoned buildings, choking traffic, drug dealers, the homeless, street gangs, criminals—and all fear!—will soon only be memories.”
With these awesome trends in mind, the words “Thy kingdom come” take on a whole new meaning! The Bible also shows that the entire Earth yearns for this supergovernment: “For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Rom. 8:22). The previous verse shows that Creation longs to “be delivered from the bondage of corruption” at the coming of Jesus Christ.
South Africa also awaits the time when it will be delivered from its many national problems. To find out how this will come about, read Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View! In it, you will learn that the Bible, seen nearly everywhere in South Africa, but little understood, lays out a plan for these solutions. It also proves this kingdom is coming soon.
At that time, a bright new age—truly and finally—will be born!