The World I want: Zoleka Mandela

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Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, Zoleka Mandela says there is a duty to address a man-made epidemic such as road traffic injury in the post-2015 development agenda.

My generation has an opportunity to make a difference. It’s all too easy to be cynical, to say that the big problems in the world like poverty and hunger are just too difficult to solve. You hear the criticism quite often. That it’s all just a lot of words, too much hot air, and little in the way of meaningful action. The critics should listen to my grandfather. I remember him talking a few years ago about the need to come together and support the Millennium Development Goals. He said: “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” And over the last few years, we’ve seen just what can be achieved when the international community comes together – the progress that has been made in tackling extreme poverty and hunger and the action on killer diseases like Malaria. We know that much more needs to be done. As the world starts planning for post-2015, we are at a critical point where we can take stock, and take the agenda forward where we’ve come up short.

As my grandfather urged, our efforts should be focused on the global problems that we have the duty and the ability to solve. Sometimes, people wonder why there should be such a focus on other people’s problems and on other people’s lives in far-away places. Perhaps they forget that we live in one world, and that it’s a world we are building for our children and for their future.

And we must ask the international community to keep this at the forefront of their minds when they are putting together the big agenda for international development for the years ahead. There are certain issues that we must not neglect as we build a better future. Road injury is one of them. It’s a question of the future I want. Road injury is one of those man-made problems that we have the ability to solve, and it is a major threat to our future - taking the lives of more young people than anything else. It is the number one killer of 15-29 year-olds worldwide. And it is those living in the developing world who are suffering the most.

In my country like other fast developing nations, I see the increasing numbers of cars on the roads, the new roads being built every day and large numbers of people who have never lived in such an environment. And we are facing unacceptable numbers of deaths and injuries in what should be young, vibrant cities, full of hope for the future. We should be nurturing and protecting this future, not contributing to the numbers of casualties by neglecting road safety.

It does not need to be this way. We know exactly how to prevent road deaths and injuries. We have the answers, but too often the solutions are not being put in place. Our governments are responsible for road safety, but they clearly need help. And as with the other development issues, and the man-made problems, help and support must come from the international community if the solutions are to work. In the years after 2015, more countries will move along the path that South Africa has been on, increasing the pace of development. But there will be a high price to pay, if the life-saving measures that are needed to protect people on the roads aren’t part of our countries’ development policies.

I lost my daughter, Zenani when she was only 13. In a matter of seconds, her world and her future was destroyed. And with her, a huge part of my world was gone too. For the sake of all our children, for our world and the future we want, we must make sure we include road safety this time round.

Zoleka Mandela and her family have been at the forefront of global efforts involving the FIA Foundation and it’s partners to call for road safety to be included in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.