By Ikeddy ISIGUZO,
Chairman, Editorial Board
MADIBA Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela defies classification, compartmentalisation or the type of encasement that leaders embrace as ideology. Mandela was different things to different people; the adulations following his passage on Thursday are the proofs of his stand as a humanist.
“Friends loved him, followers adored him, enemies respected him and hardly anyone was indifferent to the man, who was not a preacher, but had a life that was a richer living message than found in literature, theatre and the theatrics of life.
Rarely do people speak about him except in elegantly adoring terms of his life-the long walk to restoring the equality of human beings, the supposed essence of the United Nations.“While others preach it, His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Ras Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, majorly mirrored it at his famous 1945 United Nations speech.
Titled, “War”, reggae legend, Bob Nesta Marley, turned it into a hit song.““Until the philosophy, which holds one race superior and another inferior is, finally and permanently, discredited, and abandoned, everywhere is war. Until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eye, it is war,” Selassie proffered, 18 years before Mandela was hurled into jail. It took 49 years before “the colour of a man’s skin” became insignificant, years during which the UN speechified and apartheid spawned dubious arguments for its existence, until Mandela was elected president in 1994.
“The prophesied war raged, increasing fears that, as Mandela stepped out of prison on 11 February, 1990, he would unleash his anger on his jailer, who put him away for 27 years, during which they relegated black South Africans to sub-human status.
Mandela bore no grudges. He neither went after his enemies as many expected nor encouraged others to pursue vengeance.“Madiba was God’s gift to humanity to tackle the mounting proclivities to wickedness, greed, racism, opportunism.
What would South Africa have been without him?
His selflessness translated to a deeper understanding that South Africa needed to snap out of the Mandela era.
He knew that he could have held on to power, with a sense of entitlement that African leaders appropriate with ease.“His names were prophetic, and they were many, applied as those addressing him deemed fit.
However, each was rooted in the depth of his Xhosa tradition, and they turned out prophetic.
Just some:“Rolihlahla – His birth name in isiXhosa means, “Pulling the branch of a tree”, or “troublemaker”. His father gave him this name. Did he not give preachers of equal rights and justice, who enthroned apartheid trouble?“Nelson – Miss Mdingane, his English teacher, gave him the name on his first day at school, as teachers were wont in those days.“Madiba – This is Mandela’s clan name. Madiba was the name of a Thembu chief who ruled in the Transkei in the 18th century. It was used as a mark of politeness for Mandela.
“Tata – It is isiXhosa for “father”, a term of endearment many South Africans use for Mandela.“Khulu – means great, paramount, grand, the great one, it is also a shortened form of the isiXhosa word “uBawomkhulu”, grandfather.
“Dalibhunga – His name at the age of 16 after he’d undergone initiation into the traditional Xhosa rite of manhood – means “creator or founder of the council” or “convener of the dialogue”.“A man who the world praises with uncommon unanimity has left lessons that we are ignoring all to be in the league of those pouring the encomium.
What are our leaders imitating in Mandela’s life?
Is it the selflessness, the humility, the sacrifice or the belief that power should advance society rather than the individual?“Is anyone wondering why in all his ailments he was never flown abroad for treatment? Are our leaders concerned about power and how it works for their societies? Almost all the wars all over Africa are about successions.
Mandela willingly gave up power, just as he rejected offers that would have freed him from jail, but subject black South Africans to perpetual slavery.“His transition is a burden to those who claim to admire him. He left many milestones that are beckoning for imitation. Will anyone remember Mandela’s life beyond the adulations?
Who would be the next Mandela in an unrepentantly dehumanised world?