"We sang a song about the Freedom Charter, and another about the Transkei, with the lyrics, 'There are two roads, one road is the Matanzima road, and one road is the Mandela road, which one will you take?' The singing made the work lighter...and we were soon ordered to stop singing. (Whistling was banned.) From that day onwards we worked in silence. Long Walk to Freedom. The autobiography of Nelson Mandela *Abacus. pg. 484
We have a treasury of so many words from and about Nelson Mandela. Films. Invictus a film directed by Clint Eastwood celebrates the invincible spirit of Mandela. Mandela is a big name. No one proves it best than youth who live in the poorest of conditions in South Africa. I saw how eager they were in Soweto and other places that Mandela recovers from his recent lung infection. They meant it. They said it. They cried it. They wrote it. They prayed it. We have to become Mandela rather than spend time arguing if he is a product of the West as some of my friends have done on Facebook. Why do we want to stand in the face of unquestionable greatness? His greatness does not mean that the others are not great and that is what Invictus shows.
Mandela's is a story that is impossible to forget. A story? A life. He made it out of Robben Island and he became the icon around which much of South African hope was centred. Weaknesses we all have but some people once in many, many years seem to visit humanity for a very specific message. Mandela is one such man. There were and are many other heroes in South Africa but human beings have a way of looking to some people for hope in a particularly earnest way. For some reason, some individuals are somewhere at a specific time and things happen in a different way. They take a position on the psyche of many people and there is the production of positive energy and hope. They are loved.
If you gave many people a chance to have tea with friends, they would not leave Mandela out. This includes the people of Soweto, many African people, individuals such as Chief Albert Luthuli, Vufile Mini, Ahmed Kathrada, Hellen Joseph, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu... Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela...and well, if you went all the way back and Gandhi was coming to tea he would be keen too. Very keen. Now even Idi Amin if he were alive would gladly want to reach Mandela, so would Colonel Muamar Gadaffi, Bokasa, my grandmother and father, Mother Teresa a whole host of us. You have seen how many singers and people liked to visit Mandela and sing for him on his birthday. I longed to see him but learned it was better to try and understand his story.
On the 16th of June 2012 both at 13.00hrs in her Nobel Lecture, Aung San Syu Kyi had Mandela's name on her lips. She talked about him when she addressed the people during a concert in her celebration outside the Peace Centre in Oslo. Later upon reading Desmond Tutu´s foreword to Freedom From Fear, the second edition of her book, I read "...she had no bitterness; and she was ready to work for the healing of her motherland, which had suffered so grievously. In revealing this extraordinary magnanimity, she was emulating Nelson Mandela who has left the world awed by his singular lack of bitterness, his magnanimity and his willingness to forgive those who ill-treated him."
Towards the end of 2012, I watched the documentary titled Dear Mandela. It is a about those those who still suffer evictions try to see how to be unconquerable in the spirit of invictus but in a different circumstances. The young people are searching for the liberation that did not come with Mandela's exit from Robben Island and his five years as president. Suffering after the acquisition of freedom is difficult to take after so many people have died for freedom and better means and lives. Mandela did the honourable thing and left office after five years, an example to many people in political power despite the risks.
It is at this time in South Africa when power is in the hands of black people that the people expected to have less problems of housing and other issues when the contradiction of poor leadership hit home most. The documentary is described as a film about unfreedom. My earlier letter in this blog was a quest on my mind on how to decipher that complete freedom too on the whole continent of Africa . I believe we need it. http://philoikonya.blogspot.no/2010/01/dear-mandela.html
Some say that the West is eager to make heroes out of some for others to look up to. I think that is ridiculous. Anyone who bothers to read A long Walk to Freedom will find out for themselves that what was in Mandela was only recognised when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with De Klerk. In Amandla the movie and in so many records can one see that Mandela is one of those few persons, who visit humanity once in many years and who leave an indelible mark whilst spreading inspiration from Burma to Iceland.
We need the spirit of Mandela in all of Afrika and everywhere. Indeed many people beyond the borders of the townships of South Africa longed and prayed for his recovery. What we now need to focus on is working towards opening up ways so that Mandela's approach and life can help us all. What is most important is that we allow ourselves to inherit his spirit and be our own award to ourselves. To scrutinise our own selves in many ways to see where it is that we miss the mark and how to overcome that. It is not easy. We have reached a point where we have to see political parties such as the ANC for what they are.
We have to give a keen look to all of Afrika from Mali to Somali, Central Africa to South Africa and keep searching for the key to uniting the continent in focusing on economic growth and greater success for all the people. ANC was lucky to have Mandela. His outlook, his appreciation of power and his leadership are needed today. We must climb to the peak of leadership in Afrika. Much has been gained in many countries there is room for change. South Afrika and Kenya are examples of that.
And yes we do need one another as a continent because whether we like it or not our people are strewn across borders due to how Africa was divided in Brussels and roads, and railways seas, lakes and rivers unite us. See how Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique need Lake Tanzania. Landlocked country economies go down when ports are inaccessible due to war or unrest. What if our governments learned to spread goodness, respect justice and not be bitter over old feuds? Well, we do seem to unite for some things and what sadly seems to be the case is that our elected leaders unite and lobby much more for their power bases to keep strong than for the people to get justice. Recently elected president of Malawi Joyce Banda refused to host an AU meeting in her country if the ICC indicted president Omar Al Bashir was to attend. She faced a lot of criticism but she followed the law as a signatory to the Rome Statute. Sadly the Kenyan government did the opposite in 2010 when Al Bashir was invited to Kenya. We could go on but this was about Mandela and through him, owning roots of goodness, our heroes, our philosophies and worthy convictions. Our history is full of greatness examples and who are we to opt to be so small trying to even say that Mandela is made for us? Has our wisdom vanished? Is De Klerk also a product of the West? Are the Dalai Lama, Aung San Syu Kyi, and Desmond Tutu? Well then if they are, and if justice especially from the ICC is from the West, what is left? The life lessons from Mandela are valid for humanity and we should be glad to have shared the times in which he lived with him even if we never met Mandela.
I do not have to say that Mandela remains our hero and this blog celebrates him unreservedly and is so delighted he recovered well. Walk on Mandela! It is truly a long road to freedom! I still see you sparring with Jerry Moloi, yearning to be a boxer when you were stronger. You know better and have served well. Your attitude reminds me as the wise Indian saying goes that "We have not inherited this world from our ancestors, we have borrowed it from our children!" There is nothing contradictory in that. You worked like one who knew others must come. When we have put others behind in leadership in Afrika, we have to acknowledge that we have let Mandela down.