Nelson Mandela: A Generation Passes On

In the thick of the night, while darkness gathered upon the clouds of Africa, as the continent made her bed to sleep, the dreaded news filtered in. It was a news that we all knew was carved in stone, yet we silently hoped that nature will give us an exception. We just didn’t want him to go. In a continent that have come to be associated with tyrannical leaders and despots of various degrees, he was the only true evidence that could plead our case that not every leader in the continent was intoxicated with avarice and untold power.

But, every journey they say has its own destination. His has been a long walk for an astonishing ninety five years. A journey that is a classic tale of how one man with an unflinching and uncommon will can change the world. As Pat Utomi aptly puts it, the long walk of dignity, has done a johnny walker to immortality. The world will continue to pour encomiums on the revered iconic figure. Perhaps, beyond the fleeting eulogies, what lessons are we to learn from the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

The tale of how he spent twenty seven years in the torture of Robben islands is one that is well chronicled. Madiba stood up for what he believed in, even when he stood alone. Such courage to fight the forces of injustices is one that is in short supply today in our world and particularly on the African continent. In addition, Mandela showed that you don’t need to do two terms, three terms or rule forever, to make meaningful impact. He was leader for only five years (1994-1999). Even when the option to run again was one that many South Africans clamored for, he deemed it fit to let another man steer the course. Perhaps, what I find most remarkable about Madiba is the fact that despite the atrocious onslaught and sophisticated injustice meted against him for almost three decades, he held no grudges against his perpetrators. It is an irony that a man who was named "Troublemaker" will now, forever, be remembered as an icon of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. Mandela’s capacity to forgive and forget brought him global appeal, and portrayed a quality that will continue to resonates through many generations to come.

He was the conscience of the continent, an icon of the finest breed. He lived and died for a purpose. He was an epitome of justice, a one man riot, a hero of Olympian heights, an era himself, and a stalwart of the highest proportions. He was greatness personified. You could have all the trillion of dollars, but you can’t buy an ounce of such greatness. In all truism, Mandela never died, his life has been intertwined into millions of lives around the world.

As the iroko makes his short walk to immortality, it is a time to reflect upon our lives. What exactly are we living for? What is our belief system founded on? What principles are we ready to stake our lives for? Mandela’s once said “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 that I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”


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