Goodbye Nelson Mandela and lessons for African leaders
If every African King, President, Prime Minister or whatever long titles that they bestow upon themselves just borrowed one Nelson Mandela trait, the continent could have been richer, greater and better than many places in the World.
Nelson Mandela said about leadership, "It is better to lead and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership."
Madiba never just spoke, he really lived his words. Upon his release, there were quite tensions between those that returned from exile and those that had kept the ANC going during apartheid. This is the tension that has led to the fall of the Mother of the Nation Winnie Madikizela-Mandela from grace.
Directly or indirectly this led to Oliver Tambo being the President, and as popular and as synonymous to the anti-aparthied struggle, this huge man accepted to become only a Vice President of the party.
Nelson never claimed he was better entitled to led the ANC after imprisonment like many African leaders, both in Government and opposition, who believe personal popularity should translate to them leading and not serving their own people.
The second important trait that he imparts as he departs this world is that of courage to be different when one is in Leadership. Nelson Mandela went into uncharted paths from the 1950's and became a new man, a statesman out of prison.
He advocated for violent disobedience when some of his colleagues doubted it before he was caught and sent to jail. He came out of jail and advocated for peaceful negotiation before many could be convinced that he was not 'bought' in exchange for his freedom.
His courage lay in his belief when he stated, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers fear."
Madiba cared more about great good than his own fear.
Then there was the angelic leadership in Mandela, the element of forgiveness. He forgave the very same people that had jailed him for 27 years. Not only remarkable, something not expected by Kings, Presidents and Prime Ministers in Africa who strive on revenge and intimidation.
Almost all ex-Presidents in Africa are answering some strange charges, or have their benefits cut or worse still are pushing behind the door for their sons, brothers and whatever to take over leadership.
They are overly bitter as they are not satisfied with what they have. They seek to humiliate, intimidate and push their 'perceived political opponents' from the political scene. This is everywhere, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the very same South Africa (ask Julius Malema and Thabo Mbeki), Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya (Ruto and his airport mishaps) The Gambia, Egypt, Cameroon, Cote d'Voire, Swaziland, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Morrocco, Ethiopia, Eritria, Rwanda, Central African Republic, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Chad the list is endless. Its like a continent which never had a Nelson Mandela.
But for our leaders who carry out bitterness in their hearts, this is what Tata Nelson Mandela says, "For to be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
What type of tears will the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni shed for Mandela when he cant allow dissent in his own country. Mandela ways was not to arrest, humiliate, insult and reject them but he says, "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."
Can you imagine King Mswati working with the minor opposition in the Kingdom of Swaziland to make life better for everyone.
Yes for many Africa leaders it is an impossible task, but Mandela answers, "It always seems impossible until its done."
He adds on bitterness, "As I walked out of the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison."
He had many many PhD degrees, he is perhaps the most famous man of this generation. The man that has made Africa immensely proud that we created our own legend and hero, and the World agreed that a black man is equal, if at all even greater in moral, political and social authority.
That Africa is a custodian of moral and dignified leadership. It is the centre of humanity and its lessons, all embedded in the life and times of Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela came out of jail, only ruled for five years. He could have died a President had he wished. He could have become the United Nations Secretary General, but he simply wanted to do what he wanted to have done- touch humanity.
At a time when African leaders like Mummuar Ghadafi touted themselves as pan-Africanist, they failed to recognize that leadership includes giving others a chance. Its not about the family, its not about the tribe, its about the people.
African leaders allow people to choose, leave the stage while you can. There is life after Presidency. Mandela lived long enough to prove it.
Nelson Mandela bade farewell when the World still needed him, some white South Africans went to Australia afraid that the new ANC would fail. But Madiba's figure, lessons and greatness were enough lessons to South Africa.
He never used the title Dr. Nelson Mandela. He never crowned himself-despite being from Royal Family, any funny title to boast his image.
He was simply Nelson Mandela. Simply Mr. Mandela.
There are stories of him making up his bed in Olso before receiving his Nobel Prize. He was humble enough after attending dozens of events on his inauguration night, he drove back to greet a choir that had sang despite being at night and the singers unknown kids.
A chaffuer at Buckingham Palace in London remembers him as the only Head of State to have shaken hands and commended drivers during his State visit to England.
He was human first, he was a Leader. He was Tata to many millions he touched with his Childrens Fund, his Aids campaign, above all his belief an insipiration.
Africa was proud to have Nelson Mandela born an African and a black man.
African leaders can use his death as a starting point to converse and live the words and life of Nelson Mandela.
The Long Walk ended on Thursday night at 20.50pm Central African time, the curtain fell, but the play of life of Mandela continues.
He said of his long walk:
I have walked that long to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that, after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended."
GOODBYE NELSON MANDELA
(c) The quotes taken from METRO of London