THE tributes are endless. They all agree that a great man has gone at 95. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was extraordinary in his selflessness, generosity of spirit. The perspective, perception, and perspicacity he brought to all issues marked him out – they account for the endless panegyrics that have attended his transition.
Here was a man who committed his life to the struggle from youth, spent 27 years in prison, since he was unwilling to compromise his stand that all human beings are equal and that black South Africans should not be prevented from aspiring to their potentials because they were black.
Madiba was the star in the cast that understood human rights, fought for them, when a moralistic world ran on the superiority of the white race. It was a paradox that world leaders, whose claim to their places on the global podium was defence of human rights, boisterously excluded South Africa.
The hypocrisy has not ceased. They are not apologising for the mistreatment of South Africans during apartheid. They have no appreciation for the tenacity of African countries that sustained the struggle.
Apartheid protagonists and their ardent supporters, who put Madiba away for 27 years, had no idea how their staid stand was engraving the man’s greatness on the conscience of the world. If they knew, they would possibly have applied other approaches.
How would apartheid have run without Madiba? Who would have had the forgiving spirit of Madiba? If not Madiba, which South African would have given up power after a struggle that should entitle him to whatever he wanted in South Africa?
Madiba’s was a life of sacrifice. He sealed his desires within the context of the common good of South Africans, whether black, white or coloured. He was Spartan. He exemplified the practical side of living simply so that others may simply live.
With his transition, the Madiba challenge to leaders round the world has increased. Would they take up the task of improving the world, to match the tributes they keenly paid Madiba or would their enthusiastic applause of his greatness end with graveside orations?
Preaching would not solve the challenges the world faces. The annual congregation of world leaders, in New York, at the United Nations, has failed to make a better world because their selfishness is evident in their postulations.
Madiba stood against racism. He enlisted in the struggle to end it, succeeding against overwhelming odds, and haughty western views that rated his efforts futile, stating that apartheid was ordained. His life spoke volumes about the triumph of good over evil and the shamelessness of perpetrators of evil.
Adieu Madiba, you left the world better than you met it.