OPINION: Nelson Mandela Was God’s Gift and Test to Africa

By: Boaz Byayesu

While Mzee Madiba is gone, approved what is the state of political health for South Africa?

Hoping that South Africa is doing just okay although not really well, still nursing the hardly healing wounds of social divide and incurable scars of apartheid.

What are the lessons learned by Madiba’s African revolutionary comrades? And trusting that his comrades learnt everything but forgot something crucial, what could that be?

Is it my guilty conscience that haunts me thinking that the forgotten thing by our leaders about Mandela is the most enjoyable item on the menu of our smart hypocrites, sorry, our good friends of the western world?

Mandela’s selfless courage as a test

Of all African leaders of Mandela’s age and era plus the younger ones later after him in the African struggles for liberation to this day, whether in power; out of power; or still struggling to get power, is there any African leader or politician I know of, that seems to share Mandela’s thoughts, values and ideals notwithstanding his extraordinary selfless courage?

It is a fundamental challenge for our continent that it is only Mandela who learnt the simple logic that overstaying in power not only erodes the leader’s popularity, but it also undermines his purpose.

It clouds his bright leadership vision and overshadows his wisdom. Slowly but surely, longevity leads to absolutism that eventually eats up the great leader’s legacy so miserably that it suffers some irreversible bending and/or non-repairable damage.

Finally, this great legacy disappears completely like it never existed. Sadly, the once loved, respected and celebrated hero of the nation becomes the most hated and feared autocrat in the country.

And as the authoritarian regime gradually crumbles as expected, it claims yet other millions of lives; a lot of property is destroyed; infrastructure is dismantled; investments perish; hard-earned socio-economic progress stagnates or simply dies off; as the nation is dragged into yet another dark era of loss of hope for the future.

It is sadly unfortunate that our African leaders cannot get that simple logic. Most critically, it is a constant painful feeling and a shameful story for us the African people to narrate to other people outside of Africa.

For that reason and others, Mzee Madiba heroically chose to step down after only one term in office despite his popularity so that he could set a good precedent and pave the way for continuity of the meaningful purpose of the struggle through personal sacrifice for freedom of South Africa.

“We are a democratic organization, I sometimes come to the NEC (National Executive Committee) with an idea and they disagree with me and overrule me. And I obey them even when they are wrong! That is democracy! And in many instances, my own views on individual issues matter far less than the democratic process-It is better to lose on an individual matter and allow democracy to win,” Mandela states in his book: LEADING FROM THE BACK by Richard Stengel.

It is, therefore, illogical and quite embarrassing that none of the so-called revolutionary leaders has ever made or thought of such a great decision without dirty competition.

Not until they are pushed to do so or forced out with very painful consequences to the nation in a bloody fashion. It surely should be every statesman’s act if not a common sense instinct to do what Nelson Mandela did while contemplating the pains of your nation.

Among other serious problems of our continent, the main cause or the tap-root of our problems in the post-colonial era, it is the failure to transfer power peacefully or at least share the national responsibilities hence unchecked corruption and lack of accountability that feed impunity.

The arrogance and the blame game

What is the excuse now after the endless excuses and blame games against the Colonialists and the Imperialists? What about the Imperialists’ African agents including some of our own African leaders to this day?

It is high time we honestly identified our problems so as to address them seriously other than embarking on the useless blame game and the self-praise type of politics.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe shamelessly told Mandela that he, Mugabe was the star of Africa when he was in prison. Mandela proudly responded to him in a polite and wise rebuttal that the star became invisible and ceased to shine when the sun eventually appeared.

This means that the star was overpowered by the brighter light and the supreme power of the sun (Nelson Mandela). In other words, Nelson Mandela was a brighter light for Africa, and actually for the whole world when he eventually came from prison and led by an example.

Mandela’s soul and wisdom as a gift

The man was the true shining symbol of courage, integrity, dignity and freedom. Former president Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania referred to Mandela as “a voice of courage, a source of inspiration, and a beloved leader to us all.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya said, “Mandela embodied the power of hope and believed in the power of forgiveness. He bequeathed us the understanding that we can and we should unconditionally forgive those who wrong us.”

Imagine those words said of such great works of one man! Where are the others in his continent? Where are his pillars and comrades?

Mandela memorial

I have been wondering why African leaders can’t suggest that this gallant son of Africa, Nelson Mandela should be unanimously dedicated a Continental public holiday in Africa.

Nelson Mandela should be accorded a hero’s public holiday not only in South Africa but on the entire Continent just like Martin Luther King was accorded a hero’s public holiday in the United States of America. Why? This is because these two great men have something in common: Both are great heroes of the common cause, dedicating themselves to the cause of freedom for all with all the innumerable risks and sacrifices involved while serving humanity indiscriminately. These men are, surely, the most two inspiring and motivating generational leaders of our time and the symbolic citizens of our world.

Trusting that Mandela’s fellow African revolutionary comrades remembered everything about him but forgot only one important thing about him, what could that be? Could that forgotten thing about Madiba be the most enjoyable item on the menu of our friends in the Western world?

What a God’s gift in a great African we lost! Oh Madiba! Take an eternal rest, my beloved brother.

The writer lives in Virginia, USA.


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