Saturday, December 7, 2013
Nelson Mandela: The Passing On of an Immortal
By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
[Dip. Law (First Class)–LDC; Cert. Oil & Gas–Mak; LLB (Hons)–Mak; GC Candidate–GCA]
Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is dead. He died on Thursday, 5 December, 2013, at about 20:50 hours (8:50 PM, East African standard time), according to South African President Jacob Zuma, who broke this sad news to his fellow countrymen and women. President Zuma said and rightly so, that “South Africa had lost its greatest son and a people, their father.” Writing in his book, Long Walk to Freedom, Mr Mandela said that he was born on 18 July, 1918. Therefore, he was 95 years of age at the time of his death. Now, if at all death means one’s end, then, at the risk of sounding contradictory, I would like to say that Mr Mandela’s death isn’t death at all. Like that of many other great men and women, it is a contradiction of sorts because whereas we may say that he is dead, the truth of the matter is that he is not dead, for he is still an ever present factor in our lives. His legacy and memory will live on forever after him. This is why I say that his death is a mere passing on of an immortal – a total vindication of the time honoured African belief that the dead are not dead.
He was a freedom fighter who staked everything he had, relentlessly struggling for the liberation of all his people – black and white – without exception. He condemned domination irrespective of who did it. Finally he liberated both the oppressed and the oppressors at the same time. The moral lesson here is that freedom is a universal blessing, cherished and desired by all; and so, no person should ever deny it to another. Mr Mandela wrote that a country is known by how well it treats its people. He was and will always be known for treating people well with respect, dignity and humility.
Mr Mandela was a true visionary. Vision is understood to mean the ability to see ahead in the corridors of time. All his life, he was the voice of conscience in South Africa. He sought to nurture a just and equal society that is accommodative of all and sundry. He achieved this in virtually all sectors of South African society; be it in politics, the economy as well as social and cultural spheres. A lot more remains to be done though, particularly on the economic front especially, as far as the equitable redistribution of land in South Africa, in an orderly and sustainable manner, is concerned. An amicable resolution of this issue is the best gift that South Africans can give to Mr Mandela, even in death, in memory of him. Nevertheless, as a person, Mr Mandela did his best and did it well enough, deserving compliments, respect and admiration. In politics, for instance, when he was elected first President of democratic South Africa, he overcame and stood tall above the trappings of presidential power, by stepping down and handing over power to a successor, after serving for only one five-year term, yet the law allowed him to stand for another one. More over in a continent where there were no role models to emulate! He did not attempt to hijack the protracted people’s revolution that broke the back of the apartheid government, consequently entrenching himself to die in power, like many others have done or attempted to do. He simply chose not to.
Mr Mandela was a true inspiration to many people around the world: politicians, activists, sportsmen and women and ordinary folk alike. They all sought to associate themselves with him. His good deeds endeared him to many. He was a towering symbol of grace, in a world dominated by immorality, as manifested in all its forms including corruption. Mr Mandela observed and respected the Machiavellian principle that although crimes may win an empire, they do not win glory. Like Jesus Christ, Mr Mandela built his empire on love and generosity and received glory.
Mr Mandela may be physically gone, but fortunately his legacy and memories of him are here to stay with us forever; firmly etched and safely stored in the minds and testimonies of millions of people globally, acknowledging the great man he was, his wonderful philosophy and all the niceties he meant to the world. Fare thee well, dear brother and may your soul rest in eternal peace.