By Emma Okocha
America mourns the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, awash with all sorts of tender memories., the great lion of the senate is probably how most of his august colleagues and the nation will for ever remember him because of all his unyielding battles in the cause for social justice.
When the bell rang for the great harrowing battles for civil rights, the great man was there, gloves ready. When the bell rang for immigration justice and reform, he was there. When the bell rang for healthcare, he was there too. There were numerous other lower decibel clangs which people did not hear downtown and in the streets of America, but by and large Ted Kennedy was always ubiquitous in the name of good governance and the common folks, black or white. His passion for justice was unflagging.
The nation looks at his 47 year career spanning the most tumultuous times in modern American history and see his name like a diamond filigree lacing every major debate, every momentous step taken by the great nation when civilization and humanism were needed for latching down multif-farious human excesses.
His was a politics of results and whenever necessary powered by ideological compromise. That was why on both sides of the aisle, everybody respected him and his voice, Republican or democrat, liberal or conservative,Â even when they vehemently disagreed with him. They knew his doggedness was because deep in his great heart, he meant well for America and humanity, always.
While we all contemplate Ted Kennedyâ€™s name and legacy, and shower our admiration and love, we also remember his family name. The Kennedy name is a name synonymous with selflessness and service for the public and the nation to all American ears.
Remember what the name did for candidate Barack Obama during the last turbulent American presidential campaigns. The campaign gained badly needed double ballast when Caroline Kennedy broke onto the election trails with her famous essay â€œA President Like My Fatherâ€. The essay dredged the soul of American history and spirituality and its deathless humanism. It roused the treasured memories of JFK and Camelot, with its promise of egalitarian sweets and calm, love and universal well-being .
It teased with the old enduring possibility that here comes another opportunity for the resurrection of the USA as the standard bearer of democracy and freedom and justice for our planet earth. The glow of the sentiment of that Kennedy lady , combined later with Ted kennedyâ€™s own lionâ€™s roar endorsement fanned the final flames for Obamaâ€™s historic coasting to the American White House.
The Kennedy name makes American history and politics an envied confectionary when nations gather to look into each otherâ€™s eyes. It is the diamond rock of the royalty which American treasured republicanism does not have to accent its glamour.
It is part of an absent history of Kings and queens and lords and ladies; and countesses, baronets and duchesses. It is a gem on Americaâ€™s diadem of feats as a nation.
Such names elicit from some of us in our imposed exile and despair, in our wandering diseases and national hopelessness, questions about our own inadequacies, our futile dreams of possibilities. Where are the family namesÂ that would be stuff for our dreams? How many politicians do we look back at and say affirmatively regarding our woes. He or She was there like Ted Kennedy when the nation wept for its Zion.
Take a look at Nigerian history. You will see politicians who are always there and willÂ always be there when another regime is in place tomorrow. And they are not there because they have been associated with one noble piece of legislation, one great step or cause or decision in order to make a difference.Let us do a quick abbreviation.
Supposing in the worst days of GeneralÂ Babangida, I was there. In the worst days of Sani Abacha, I was there. In the worst days of Olusegun Obasanjo , I was there;Â and today, in the worst days of Yaradua, I am still there. What would you, a free-thinking and fair-minded Nigerian citizen be thinking of me? It is either I am a genius and a great statesman or something unnameable. Permit me to skip this opportunity for a summary definition.
There are lessons for Nigerians to learn about names like Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy name. Would it not be lovely and absolutely precious for one ubiquitous Nigerian politician to be able to say of himself or his or her parents.Â When military despotism nearly crushed us all, when there were problems with the economy and the sufferings of the people, when theÂ whole nation cried over water and power and good roads, when hospitals and schools and school teachers were complaining about their suffering, when armed robbery and kidnapping were the order of the day, when injustice was like an incurable national disease because nobody dared tell the truth about a fair and just federalism, I WAS THERE. MY FATHER/MOTHER STOOD UP FOR THOSE CAUSES.
IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE ALL OVER THIS COUNTRY AND THIS GREAT NATION, I WILL BE THERE ALWAYS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE.YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON MY SINCEREST PASSION, MY HONESTY, MY INTEGRITY, MY SELFLESSNESS AS A TRUE PATRIOT…Where is that Nigerian politician?