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When Will We Have Our Own Mandela? By Orobosa Toks Ero.


That former South African President and the true face of anti-apartheid struggle, Nelson Mandela has left us is a stale story. But the lessons from his life will remain eternal. In our clime for instance, the lessons stare us in the face on a daily basis as the political gladiators conduct themselves in a manner that arouse in us that strong desire and longing for a man of strong character, robust political stature and selfless leader as the Madiba, as he was fondly called. Mandela’s life was inspiring; he was Africa’s great revolutionist and prime human rights activist; he put his people first and self last. He chose to eat the bread of sorrow and drink the water of affliction that his people might live in freedom and prosperity. In our country, the reverse is the case. Here, the poor masses cut their coats according to their cloths, usually inadequate, while our leaders cut theirs according to their bloated sizes. While we tighten our belts due to the harsh economic policies foisted on us, the custodians of our commonwealth stretch theirs to accommodate their rotund frame. The Mandela we knew never did that. He was conscious of the verdict of history.

In the preceding months before his demise, many who had deified the man including members of his family wished that this enigma of a man would never go the way of all mortals. But who would blame them? Nelson Mandela, more than any other African either living or dead, at least in this century, contributed immensely to making his world a much better place than he met it by giving up himself as a sacrificial lamb that his world would know peace, progress and prosperity. Lucky South Africans! Nelson Mandela knew from when he became conscious of his society that he had to do something to free his people from the shackles of oppression and a satanic apartheid system of government, which made one race superior to another, and conferred undue advantage upon the white minority over the black population who were in the majority and owned the land.

For this, he denied himself the comfort the royalty of his birth and a legal practice that afforded him a life of comfort, to join forces with the African National Congress to fight apartheid and its many devils. In the 1960s, he was amongst the first to advocate armed struggle against the obnoxious apartheid regime which according to him, had blatantly refused to hear or listen to the voice of reason, but had continued to unleash and inflict upon his people pain and anguish while depriving them of the fruits of the land.

In 1961, he went underground to form ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (the spear of the nation) under whose umbrella the ANC carried out attacks on government institutions and installations, and in 1963 he was charged with capital offences at the Rivonia Trial. His statement from the dock was his political testimony and a summary of his life-long struggle against oppression and tyranny in South Africa –

“I have cherished the ideals of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in free society, in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Nelson Mandela and his companions were imprisoned for life in 1964 at the Robben Island, and for 27 years; he remained behind bars undeterred, unbroken, and courageously refusing to bow to pressures from his oppressors who applied everything in the books to blur his vision of a free South Africa where all men and women, regardless of race, would live free of worry, fear and deprivation. Rather, he looked the South African Pharaohs eye ball to eye ball and said “Let my people go” that their human dignity might be preserved.

But there was something different about Nelson Mandela – something that stood him out from the crowd of past or nascent leaders in the continent of Africa. Nigeria is not excluded. The polity is under intense heat presently because our politicians have their eyes on the next political dispensation even when they are yet to creditably acquit themselves in the offices they currently hold. The ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the emerging All Progressives Congress, APC, both two sides of the same coin, are flexing political muscles not because they have the interest of the masses at heart, but because they want to capture power to corner the wealth of the nation to satisfy their greed.

Mandela was different. Power, to him, was not a do-or-die affair but service to the people. To him, it was not an inheritance neither was it a reward for his 27 tortuous years in prison. He presented himself as a lamb for sacrifice that his people may enjoy lasting peace, freedom and prosperity in the land which even though rightly belongs to them, yet were enslaved by foreign conquerors. Can it happen in Nigeria? In not too distant past, we had a president who had ruled for almost 4 years as a military officer and spent two terms of eight years in office as a civilian and before the end of that tenure, was scheming for a third term!

There are lessons in selflessness our leaders and our politicians and others who aspire to lead us, must learn. Mandela was not an opportunist. He was also not without hope of a great future. He had the benefit of a good education and royalty. But for the love of humanity and his people, this global citizen gave up everything that was dear to him – his family, children and the companionship of a pretty wife, Winnie, for the struggle. And in the process, he abdicated his responsibilities as a father and husband and more importantly, he gave up a thriving legal practice thus putting paid to a future of assured bliss and comfort in his chosen career. This is an example in selfless leadership not seen in these parts.

Nelson Mandela can truly be said to be a metaphor for courage which is in short supply in our clime.  He looked at fear straight in the eye and never blinked first.

One thing that marked Nelson Mandela out amongst mere mortals was that he had a heart that forgave. This is absolutely remarkable. Indeed, many still wonder what manner of man he was. For a man who was deliberately subjected to so much humiliation, deprivation and pain to, after 27 long years, come out and embrace his jailors, without any show of bitterness, to many, was out of this world! It was simply unimaginable that he would tell his traducers “go and sin no more” or better still: “Father, I forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing”, when he was in a position to take his pound of flesh. But in his humility and large-heartedness, he said in retrospect: “as I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”. Can you beat that?

In our own dear country, an Abacha will send you to jail on a phantom coup plot; an Obasanjo will haul corruption allegations at you and send the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, after you, while a President Jonathan will rake up enough trouble to keep you busy. Yet, regardless of these enigmatic qualities, Nelson Mandela was mortal and so he has gone the way of mortals. He had his own foibles and downtimes, and as he said: “do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”. But he conquered the world.

The lessons from Nelson Mandela’s life are very clear – as leaders and followers, we must learn to make a sacrifice for a good and noble cause; we must be courageous in confronting evil even at the expense of our freedom, our lives, comfort and personal dignities. We must conquer fear because as one-time American President, F.D Roosevelt posited, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. And we must learn to forgive because to forgive is not just divine but puts you at peace with the world and at the end of the day, you are the ultimate winner in any battle. All the eulogies and accolades on Mandela were therefore not misplaced.

Now, back to the question “When will we have our own Mandela?” It looks to me a tall dream. Or what do you think?


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Madiba’s Long Walk To History: Lessons In Leadership For African Leaders By Bayo Oluwasanmi.

Life is suffering.

There is no alternative means of confronting and solving life’s problems than through a painful process. Discipline is the basic tool we require to solve life’s problems.

Life’s problems evoke in us frustration, or grief, or sadness, or loneliness, or guilt, or regret, or anger, or fear, or anxiety, or anguish, or despair. The paradox of life is that life has meaning through the process of meeting and solving problems.

As the world mourns President Nelson Mandela, the words of author Gary Wills rings true of “the radical leader” in his book Certain Trumpets. Wills describes such leaders as people who vote with their life. Others follow them because they are ready to die for their cause.

In his opening statement before the Pretoria Supreme Court in April 1964, Mandela said: “The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices – submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom.”

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, I have fought against black domination,” Mandela told the judge.  “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic rule and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die,” the anti-apartheid leader defiantly assured the world.

Such leaders who are prepared to die so that others could be free are rare, but we see them throughout history. The power of example is the greatest motivator there is. In the past century, no one can match the value and the profile of an individual like Mandela. His middle name Rolihlahla which is Xhosa for “troublemaker,” ironically turns out to mean peace maker.

It was the decision of the ANC to sponsor military action that started his long walk to history. In his interview in 1961, he categorically and unequivocally stated that “There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile for us to continue talking peace and non-violence against a government whose only reply is savage attacks on an unarmed and defenseless people,” argues Mandela. “And I think the time has come for us to consider, in the light of our experiences at this day at home, whether the methods which we have applied so far are adequate.”

As the head of the armed wing of ANC, Mandela was arrested, charged, tried, and jailed for life. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems calls forth our courage and our wisdom, indeed they create our courage and our wisdom.

It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems. It is through pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn.

Mandela spent 27 years in South African prisons before his release in 1990. A worldwide campaign against apartheid pressured the regime into releasing Mandela in 1990 at age 71. He was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994, serving one term.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with South Africa’s president at the time, F.W. de Klerk.

Mandela’s 27 years at Robben Island Prison provided the much needed tools of confronting and solving problems: delayed gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to the truth, and balancing. They are tools with which pain is confronted rather than avoided. It took 27 years for him to mellow from an angry man, better still, a troublemaker to a peacemaker and apostle of forgiveness.

The role of the wilderness in the preparation of a leader cannot be overemphasized. Quality leaders can almost always point to a wilderness experience as part of their leadership preparation.

The Robben Island Prison served as Mandela’s wilderness where he fought spiritual battles and overcame temptations to take shortcuts, where he learned discipline and the art of depending on God, where self-sufficiency and self-promotion were broken, where he solidified his sense of mission, and where he gained his perspective.

While at the wilderness – his Gethsemane – he felt loneliness, he expressed honesty, he became humbled, and he received strength. Every leader who does something significant for his people like Mandela, experiences a Gethsemane.
A man with a deep sense of destiny, he refused to be released on conditions and without the release of other comrades. He had always fought for inclusion. He was released on his own terms.

He campaigned for the presidency in his now familiar manner of stressing reconciliation and forgiveness: “Never, Never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another,” Mandela told South Africans.

Never has a politician remained so popular in his life time. Mandela was the first ex-prisoner to stay at Buckingham Palace. He even ‘flirts’ with Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls the British pop girl group. He immortalized the film “Invictus” directed by Clint Eastwood and insisted that he chose Morgan Freeman to play him.

His life was littered with tragedy: one of his sons died of Aids, another died in a car crash while he was still in jail, and 13-year old Zenani Mandela his great, great grand daughter was killed in car crash on her way back from a World Cup opening party. Through it all, Mandela has demonstrated that every time he was under the weight of adversity, he was being prepared to better serve God and lead people.

He chose to suffer in the now in the hope of future gratification rather than choosing to continue with immediate gratification in the hope that future suffering will not be necessary. He came to accept the necessity of suffering and to embrace the paradoxical nature of co-existence. Mandela taught us by example that the life of wisdom must be a life of contemplation combined with action.

Mandela exemplified the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. By his life, we know that among humanity, love is the miraculous force that defies the natural law of entropy. His life informs us that our personal involvement in the fight against evil in the world is one of the ways we grow, we live, and to be remembered.

To win trust, a leader must exhibit both character and competence. Mandela’s charisma, stoic optimism and reconciliation toward adversaries and oppressors endeared him to the world as the world’s most respected statesmen of the 20th century and a hero of South African democracy. He not only liberated a nation from oppression, but he forgave the men who stole his life. He seemed to be saying, “We swim, we sink, we fall, we take our fate together.”

Mandela, helped interpret the times by using three key tools of navigation: lenses-he modeled the right attitude to approach the future, road map – he warned us about the rough roads ahead, and a barometer – he helped us navigate the future conditions.

Mandela provides a textbook example of lessons in leadership to African rulers. His life should remind them in terms of stewardship that leaders are brokers of resources they have been given. Those resources may include people, budgets, time, wisdom, talents, natural resources, etc. How well have African rulers (they are not leaders) broker those resources? Through corruption, pilfering, swindling, squandering, and brazen stealing by the rulers, Africa remains one of the poorest continents on earth.

African rulers have been unrighteous managers of the continent’s vast resources. Indeed, the cruelty and injustice in African countries are underwritten by economic apartheid. Africa has been cursed with lousy leaders whose leadership is used for personal benefit,  not proactive in facing and solving problems,  doesn’t understand the value of relationships between the leader and the led, and  doesn’t understand the nature of influence.
African rulers are like the Biblical Esau whose stomachs are larger than their eyes who live in the present, and repeatedly failed to clearly see the future. Like Esau, they focused solely on the here and now, convinced that tomorrow never comes. Like Esau, their shortsightedness makes them give up the ultimate to get the immediate. And Like Esau, they are self-centered with faulty vision.

It is not good enough to declare a 3-day mourning or deliver oratorical eulogy full of flowery imagery and eloquence. As long as the continent is being ruled by the Jonathans, Mugabes, Nguema Mbasogos, Eduardo dos Santos’, Blaise Compaores, and other incompetent rulers, Africa would remain behind human race and civilization – forever!

With immense popularity, Mandela was forced to retire from retirement. “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” Mandela politely and respectfully pleaded with the people.  Madiba, your wish is granted now. We wished we could call you but not anymore.

Madiba, when you were born you cried and the world rejoiced. But when you died, you rejoiced and world cried. This is the essence of life – to live for others!

Tata goodnight and enjoy your rest!


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Fare Thee Well Mandela! By Charles Ofoji.

Apartheid is among the greatest crimes in human history. During the times it thrived, those who challenged it, like those who questioned colonialism, were branded terrorists. All sorts of words were invented by the oppressors to castigate those who they thought posed a danger to the status-quo and to their enjoyment.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela did not choose his circumstances, rather the circumstances chose him. Like people of his generation, he had no option than to fight for his freedom against a brutal system that threatened to take away his human dignity. The humanity of people like Mandela was questioned in their native South Africa. From the onset, Madiba, as he is popularly called, was never in two minds that his destiny was to fight in every possible way to free himself and his people. And this was what he did for the most part of his life, at the expense of his personal life. He fought to give a life to black South Africans.

In the famous Rivonia trial in 1964, instead of testifying, Mandela stubbornly opted to give a speech rather. That speech lasted four hours to the chagrin of the court. He ended by saying: During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society, in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

He never wavered; he never compromised. He fought for those ideals and he was victorious. Apartheid was crushed. South Africans became free in their own country and voted for the first time in 1994 in an election that put the icing on Mandela’s long tortuous fight and journey to freedom and victory against oppression and repression. He became South Africa’s first black president with a massive landslide victory in the first democratic election.

Mandela’s victory came at a heavy price. Essentially, he sacrificed his life so that his people can be free. He turned down all conditional offers of release. To him, the total freedom of black South Africans was not negotiable. His life never mattered more to him. According to him: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

The struggle cost him his youth and the golden ages they say begin at forty. It deprived him his family life, including seeing his children grow up. Above all, it cost him his marriage to his ex-wife, Winnie, who stood by him and was the voice of the struggle in those years Mandela was incarcerated at Robin Island. Nevertheless, he was never bitter against his tormentors and jailers. At his inauguration in 1994 as president, Mandela looked them straight in the eye as they sat at the front row and offered them a genuine hand of forgiveness and reconciliation. And it was very genuine. Herein lies the enigma called Nelson Mandela. What kind of a man would forgive those who tucked him away in prison for 27 years of his life? 27 years. Not 27 days; not 27 weeks and certainly not 27 months. Twenty-seven punishing years!

Only an extraordinary man would do that. Mandela was one. He was a man of extraordinary compassion, generosity and forgiveness. As aptly put by US President, Barack Obama: “He achieved more than could be expected of any man.” Notwithstanding, Mandela was humble and magnanimous even in his victories, which he loved to share with others, including those he defeated. At that 1994 inauguration, Mandela was seen been more interested in raising high the hand of F.W de Clerk – a kind of saying that it was also a victory for him.

Nobody in life has done what Mandela did. However, he achieved all that with amazing grace and infectious humour, side by side the capacity to acknowledge his imperfections. This adds to make him more amazing.  Once the great Madiba said, “I’m not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” This was the modesty that typified and never left him despite all exemplary achievements and victories.

Madiba was one of the few African leaders who recognised that power should only be used to improve the lives of the people who conferred it. He is one of a kind and unfortunately there is no else like him among former or present day African leaders. And none is willing to imitate or draw inspiration from him.

Mandela inspired the world. I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from his life.  I still remember vividly my excitement when he came to my University, University of Lagos shortly after he was released from prison in 1990. As an undergraduate I was already political conscious. His story made me more political conscious. Since then, I have tried to fight other people’s fight and to give voice to the voiceless. Thank you Madiba!

As British Prime Minister, David Cameron rightly said: “one of the brightest lights of our world has gone out. Nelson Mandela was not just a hero of our time, but a hero of all time.” To me, from the perspective of humanity, Mandela was the greatest man that ever lived on planet earth.

Madiba, your life of service was a burning flame that provided light, love, hope and freedom for all. We thank you Madiba. Fare thee well!


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Mandela’s Family Fighting For His Fortune.

Nelson Mandela’s family has reportedly been at war over his millions for years, and his death Thursday may trigger even more bitter battles over who stands to gain his fortune, the Daily Mail reported Thursday.

The legendary former president of South Africa was married three times and fathered six children, only three of whom — daughters Makaziwe, Zenani, and Zindzis — are still alive.

His daughter Makaziwe, from his first marriage, and Zenani, from his second marriage, have reportedly already become embroiled in a legal battle over the control of a trust fund worth an estimated $1.6 million, the British newspaper said.

Mandela’s third daughter, Zindzi, is not involved in the court action, the Mail reported, citing the Star of South Africa.

The money was placed in the fund by Mandela in 2005 to be distributed to his daughters only in the event of hardship, the Mail reported.

Makaziwe and Zanani are demanding access to the fund and have begun legal action against the trust’s two directors: 84-year-old lawyer George Bizos, who defended Mandela in a 1963 trial, and 60-year-old Tokyo Sexwale, who was a prisoner alongside Mandela on Robben Island, the newspaper reported.

Makaziwe and Zenani allege the trust was intended for them and Bizos and Sexwale “hijacked” it said.

Makaziwe and Zenani are also involved in a separate legal battle against the pair and another lawyer, Bally Chuene — all directors of companies whose main purpose was to channel funds from the sale of artwork.

The two daughters claim Bizos, Sexwale, and Chuene were never appointed by Mandela as major shareholders or directors. Bizos claims the allegations are false.

Mandela is believed to have accumulated a fortune of about $16 million, the Mail reported, and the family is active in more than 110 trading companies, according to records compiled by Beeld newspaper.

Makaziwe has denied any exploitation by the family, reportedly saying: “Every child in this family who wants to use the Mandela name has a right to do, so as long as they do so with honor and integrity and upholding the values of my father,” the Mail reported.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Nelson Mandela, a Hero for Our Times.

Image: Nelson Mandela, a Hero for Our Times

Christopher Ruddy visits the jail cell formerly occupied by Nelson Mandela.

Not all world leaders are also heroes. Nelson Mandela, however, was both.

President Mandela has left the world stage, but he will remain a model for those who lead and seek to promote the ideals of human dignity, freedom, and democratic values.

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I never met Mandela, though I got close. Two years ago, I joined former President Bill Clinton in his visit to see Mandela in South Africa as part of his Clinton Foundation mission to the continent. Even at that time Mandela was ailing.

But during my visit to South Africa, I saw his handiwork and how one man can make a difference for the betterment of his country and for mankind.

I recall visiting the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Much like our Holocaust Museum and Yad Vashem, the world’s center of Holocaust documentation and education, it seeks to reveal the horrors of human barbarity, in this case, South Africa’s system of racial segregation.

Yet this museum did more than that; it told the story of apartheid through the life and eyes of Nelson Mandela.

During his almost three decades of incarceration, Mandela was derided by the ruling white Afrikaners as a Marxist revolutionary. The Cold War, for many in the West, seemed to excuse the inexcusable.

It was clear visiting the Apartheid Museum that if Mandela was a Marxist, it was only because he felt there was little alternative for him to fight for his people.

Our museum guide explained that Mandela himself had played an important role in shaping the museum, which helped me understand his thinking.

Exhibits detailed Mandela’s long admiration for Great Britain, its parliamentary system, and his hope that South Africa would emulate not only its institutions, but its sense of fair play and justice.

One exhibit that made a strong impression was a video of then President Mandela in his office, dressed in a business suit, greeting the 8-year-old son of a cabinet member.

Mandela talked to the boy in a fatherly way about his aspirations, encouraging the child to do well in school and do the best he could in life. It was just like an American dad encouraging his son to capture the American dream. These were not the words or thoughts of a Marxist revolutionary.

Indeed, Mandela, upon release from prison, rejected the Marxist model of Fidel Castro and the dictatorship that Robert Mugabe chose for a liberated Zimbabwe. Instead, he chose to have his nation walk the path of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, embracing the ideals of nonviolence and forgiveness.

Apartheid was an evil and brutal system, but Mandela believed that a focus on the past would not solve the problems of the present and future.

Later on the trip, our delegation visited Robben Island, the penal colony near Cape Town. It was there that Mandela and his imprisoned African National Congress members suffered harshly. Our guide for the prison tour was a fellow ANC inmate who shared his experiences with Mandela.

What struck me was how happy our guide seemed. He, like Mandela, had discovered true freedom through their suffering.

The tiny cell in which Mandela spent most of his time, a room as large as a small bathroom or a walk-in closet, had a mat on the concrete floor for him to sleep on. The large window was barred. After a brief period in a common room for meals, a room that did not afford the prisoners chairs or tables, Mandela and his fellow inmates spent most of the day in a prison courtyard physically breaking rocks under the heat of the sun.

The obvious question I had was how he could survive this for 27 years. Mandela spent 18 years on Robben Island! How did he avoid going raving mad?

He survived and became an incredibly balanced man, one whose virtue and leadership propelled him to become not only the father of his country, but also an iconic leader for millions around the world.

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I do not have the full answers as to how Mandela overcame this oppression. But I do believe that Mandela discovered a power deep within the human spirit, one that Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote about from his own Gulag experiences, and detailed in his fictional “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” that no one person, no system of government can ever really steal one’s God-given freedom.

Mandela also understood that our freedom is inexplicably linked to others. He wrote, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The Legend Mandela dies at 95 ‘We’ll not see the likes of him again’.

nelson mandela dead.

“I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela‘s life,” Mr Obama said.

“He did it all with grace, good humour and ability to acknowledge his own imperfections only makes his achievements more remarkable.

“As long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.”

South African president Jacob Zuma announced this morning that Mandela died on Thursday night local time.

He says their nation has lost its greatest son and flags across the nation will be lowered to half mast.

Mandela has been receiving around the clock intensive care from military and other doctors since September, when he was discharged from a stay of almost three months in hospital for a lung infection.

In a televised address, Zuma said: “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.

“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”

“He is now resting,” Zuma said.

Flags across the nation will be lowered to half mast, he said.

Mandela had been receiving around the clock intensive care from military and other doctors since September, when he was discharged from a nearly three month hospital stay for a lung infection.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has this morning described Mandela as one of the great figures of Africa and of the last century.

“Nelson Mandela was one of the great figures of Africa, arguably one of the great figures of the last century,” Mr Abbott told Fairfax radio.

He was the father of modern South Africa, he said.

“A truly great man.

“And while I never met him I did read that book A Long Walk To Freedom and I guess the impression we get of Nelson Mandela is someone who suffered but was not embittered but ennobled through that suffering.”

Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president after spending nearly three decades in prison.

Mandela, once a boxer, had a long history of lung problems after contracting tuberculosis while in jail on Robben Island.

His extraordinary life story, quirky sense of humour and lack of bitterness towards his former oppressors ensured global appeal for the charismatic leader.

Once considered a terrorist by the United States and Britain for his support of violence against the apartheid regime, at the time of his death he was an almost unimpeachable moral icon.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner spent 27 years behind bars before being freed in 1990 to lead the African National Congress (ANC) in negotiations with the white minority rulers which culminated in the first multi-racial elections in 1994.

A victorious Mandela served a single term as president before taking up a new role as a roving elder statesman and leading AIDS campaigner before finally retiring from public life in 2004.

“When he emerged from prison people discovered that he was all the things they had hoped for and more,” fellow Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said.

“He is by far the most admired and revered statesperson in the world and one of the greatest human beings to walk this earth.”

He was a global cause celebre during the long apartheid years, and popular pressure led world leaders to tighten sanctions imposed on South Africa’s racist white minority regime.

In 1988 at a concert in Wembley stadium in London, tens of thousands sang “Free Nelson Mandela” as millions more watched on their television sets across the world.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Re: The Contradictions Of Mandela By Kennedy Emetulu.

By Kennedy Emetulu

I’ve  just read the New York Times article by Professor Zakes Mda and his convenient bifurcation of complex human and political issues in order to show the ‘contradictions’ of Nelson Mandela rankles greatly. Here was a man born into a community, a culture and a tradition of accommodation and resistance seared deeply in his history, yet some people expect him to pick and choose to meet the expectations of an angrier or more disaffected section of the populace. That he found the courage to look at the big picture and paint a masterpiece of political actuation with vigour and ingenuity is not enough, Mda wants us to see the cracks in his ideological commitment through such evidence as how he tolerated his Bantustan-loving relatives or how a segment of the black population in South Africa believes he sold out. But while it is okay to present these other facets of the individual and how others view him, the truth is they become false equivalences when compared with his greater acts pursuant to the bigger goal.
Leadership is a complex affair and political leadership more so, especially when required to be exercised while held down by an oppressive social and political order which singles you out as an embodiment of how not to fight the oppressive system. The challenge for such a leader is not just to lead in such constrained circumstances that are externally and internally imposed, but to win over those he or she is reputed to be leading in all their disparate and broken bits. In such a situation, ideological rigidity will offer no panacea, not only because of differing motivations, but naturally because the constraints make it impossible for the message to be fully passed to those who should hear it. They are more likely to feel the whip of oppression faster than they’d hear from a caged leader.

So any leader with his wits about him would learn to play the game, not to compromise the great principle of the struggle with which the rest of the world identify, but to navigate the treacherous terrains that ultimately lead to the Promised Land, because that task and that burden cannot be delegated. That is why Mandela turned Robben Island into a university of the struggle for all the young people captured from the streets and dumped there. He knew the time would come when they’d have to walk their talk. When that time comes, he wanted them to be ready intellectually and temperamentally. That is how he came to know the time to sit with the apartheid jackals to discuss the future, even as those closest to him in the struggle were open-mouthed about such sacrilege. He saw the future and just told them to relax, because something good can come out of it. A leader is a prophet and he was right. That was the same attitude he used in handling the affairs of the ANC when they came to power. It was never the possibilities the present can deliver in terms of power, but a future watered by the lessons of the past to create that Rainbow Nation that apartheid found an anathema. Blood, even bad blood does not have to be wasted.

Wisdom is a rare gift in high places and we must always be grateful when exercised by persons who have the platform to abuse it to the detriment of us all. Of all the Mandela quotes about, the one that I find most profoundly reflective of the character of this complex man is this one: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”. It’s a powerful statement about individual power of choice, independence, courage, grace and selflessness. More crucially, it’s a statement about responsible leadership. Of course, Mandela was not going to be put in a physical prison if he’d left there with his bitterness and hatred, but he knew that such feelings imprison whoever bears them wherever they are, more so as political leaders. He recognised his humanity by not denying those feelings. No one who’s been through what he and his people had been through for decades before his freedom would claim not to feel bitterness, anger or hatred and he was never going to underplay that just to satisfy the worried White establishment. But he knew that while the populist thing to do was to use these negative feelings to mobilize his people, the wiser thing to do was to rise above them. He knew his example will save his nation. And it did.

I am happy that Professor Mda says he does not share the perspective of those who today disparage the methods and achievements of Mandela, even though he understands their frustrations and shares their disillusionment. However, if indeed he understands the “skillful politician whose policy of reconciliation saved the country from a blood bath and ushered it into a period of democracy, human rights and tolerance” or the one he says he admires “for his compassion and generosity, values that are not usually associated with politicians”, then he would realise that for this, there is necessarily a price, because we are dealing with the human condition and a coagulated history of real wickedness. The courage to achieve these things is wrought from a crucible that leaves a prize for others, no matter how uncomfortable. In other words, Mandela knew that the opportunity cost for establishing a social order governed by his sentiments is the loyalty he has to show to those who have the ability to destroy it and who can justify that turn with reference to a scarred past. He was courageous enough to pay that price.

Professor Mda should take a cue from the story he himself relates in his piece about how Mandela reacted when as a private citizen he wrote him a long letter complaining about the emerging patronage system and crony capitalism. Mandela phoned him within a week, arranged a meeting between Professor Mda and three of his senior cabinet ministers. Now, Mda says nothing came out of it, but he fails to understand the significance of that action. The gift of Mandela to South Africa and the world is the gift of vision, not of action. Anyone can complain about corruption, about the South African dream still far off, about economic apartheid still in place and so on, but Mandela was not made to change all that. He was made to show his people how to change all that by making access available to the democratic institutions that should effect that change in a wholesome and meaningful way. But the task of running that democracy, of challenging it to deliver change remains ours. Mandela knew that he was the past, but he made himself a bridge to the future and a sure, solid one at that! The best we could ask for in terms of action is his personal example. We’ve all seen it and we know that can stand the test anywhere.

It is enough that he has singlehandedly stemmed that anger with the potential to destroy the nation while leaving others to get on with the politics of putting the fittings in to freely accommodate everyone. Oh, there will always be complaints in the house he’s built, but it’s better than any other alternative. His greatness cannot be diminished by the chinks in his armour, because whatever the cracks, he’s used that armour to save his country and give humanity a reason to continue believing in its truly civilizing mission.

Kennedy Emetulu
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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