Friday, 30 July 2010

Mandela Not Eclipsing Other Luminaries







I read Sam Ditshego's article Mandela: Eclipsing Other Luminaries? with mixed feelings. His vitriolic intro: “This crazy thing about celebrating Mandela's birthday” did not augur well with me. It's totally discourteous of Mandela and those that venerate him. What would be his reactions if the celebration were about his father, queen of England or other colonial even religious monsters?

The author may be right about some issues but not all. Mandela is not eclipsing other luminaries as it was wrongly put. He is rightly where he is supposed to be. Even proposed Nkrumah (to be highly regarded as the father of African unification), did not do it alone. Tanzania has the late Mwl. Julius Nyerere the founder of our nation while Kenya has its Dedan Kimathi. They are highly regarded not just because they accomplished much single-handedly. They guided others just like Mandela. The general always gets credit for his army's victory. Giving them credit is not tantamount to eclipsing others.

Mandela is the only one who openly told the judge that he'd topple the apartheid regime. The judge was shocked for Mandela (as lawyer himself) knew the consequences of admitting to have committed such an offence whose sentence was capital punishment.

There is this issue of sell-out. This might be right or wrong altogether. Some South Africans are bitter given since the conditions of the majority blacks are still worse despite being free. But again, this is the reality almost everywhere in Africa. The economies of African countries have always been in the hands of foreigners that were brought by colonial masters. In Tanzania, Kenya and partly Uganda, all commerce is in the hands of Asians while in West Africa the situation is the same. The difference is that in South Africa, the citizenry hates foreigners from Africa whilst it is always in bed with the rest.

Looking at this situation I can concur with those that exhibit their anger against Mandela. But is it his fault or systemic fallacy? Before terming his efforts to reconcile South Africa as a sell-out, one should remember how shabby and complicated the situation - especially the well being of the black people - was at the time. What other alternative was at hand ? It is easier for the spectators to see what is going on in the pitch but more difficult for the players.

Is Mandela a tax evader? How, when the money given to Mandela foundations ends up being donated to the needy? Besides, Mandela does not manage the said foundations. His name is just used to help others. If his former friend and lawyer was right, can anybody tell us why the authorities did not apprehend Mandela?

I did not understand the allegation that intellectually, Nelson Mandela did not match Lembede, the founding President of the ANCYL in 1943; his deputy Mda and PAC founding President Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe. What does high IQ have to do here? Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa of Calcutta and others were not that bright so to speak in terms of regurgitating what they were taught at school. However, they served and changed the society for the better. To the contrary, look at what “bright” butchers such as Rodovan Karadžić, Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Taylor did. Being bright did no good. Warren Buffet, Bill Gate and Carlos Slim may not be all that bright but this does not hamper us from appreciating their contributions to the development of human kind.

Mandela deserves kudos. What he started offers an opportunity for others to learn, go ahead and achieve impossible. He is a mortal being I know. But again, he rose above human languor when it comes to fighting for others. Had Mandela taken a backward stance, South Africa would still be languishing in the dark days the way Palestinians are simply because they cannot accept harmonious and constructive co-existence with Israel.

Boers had what it takes to soldier on killing, maltreating, segregating, exploiting and torturing blacks had Mandela not taken a conciliatory stance. Better half the misery instead of the whole misery. Mandela read the signs of times and thought outside the box. Had he fanatically rejected to reconcile south Africa, he'd have been the one to lose.

If Mandela sold you out, why don't you buy yourself back? South Africa is better than other sub- Saharan countries in almost everything despite the slow pace things are taking. Mandela is not eclipsing anybody. Being a towering-figure-cum icon, he deserves whatever he gets.
Source: The African Executive Magazine July 28, 2010

1 comment:

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