MANDELA: What lessons can we learned from him?


After nineteen days on admission at the hospital for recurring lung infection, former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela succumbed to death on Thursday, December 05, 2013, sparking hundreds of condolences from world leaders around the globe.

Mandela was a man who doesn’t need introduction. He was probably one of world’s greatest and famous statesmen for what he stood and suffered for in his country during the Apartheid era. Should events take place to fulfill history or prophecy? The story of Apartheid wasn’t only degrading but a crime which the perpetrators had gone unpunished, while Nazi-criminals are being haunted to face justice for the same crime committed against humanity.

To be caught and taken before a racist and angry judge, who seemed to have no mercy and understanding that Nelson Mandela as an African has the right to defend his country from invaders thirsty to exploit his country. The greedy invaders wouldn’t like to share what belongs to the majority South Africans, instead enforced laws and barriers to prevent South Africans to be active.  “There is no doubt that the colour question in South Africa politics was originally introduced for economic reasons, because the selfish white leaders installed a barrier between blacks and whites, so that they could enjoy what belongs to the blacks.” Said late Steve Biko.

Imposed laws include prohibited marriages between white people and non-white people, requiring every South African to be racially classified and forced separation between races through creation of residential areas designed for certain races. The South Africa Defense Force committed horrible crimes against mankind including children without any consideration. The Soweto riots of 1976 were the most brutal and violent riots that had taken place against the South African apartheid administration.

A protest march was organised in the black Soweto Township just outside Johannesburg on June 16 1976. Over 20,000 students turned up to the march, followed closely by the police. The regular day-to-day tension between blacks and the apartheid regime’s police force was coupled now with the anger directed at the education act.“They opened fire. They didn’t give any warning. They simply opened fire…And small children, small defenseless children, dropped down like swatted flies. This is murder, cold-blooded murder.”

South Africans were helpless as many world leaders were supporting Apartheid because of benefits they were enjoying from South Africa. Many were imprisoned for speaking against this cruelty. Not everyone arrested on false charges of act of terrorism and treason survived. Steve Biko was beaten to death in detention. Nelson Mandela was one of the survivors after serving twenty-seven years on the notorious Robben Island prisons.

The iconic Nelson Mandela was release and became president of his country, but the physically, psychologically and economically, the damage was so severe on the victims that his assumption in office couldn’t bring any significant change to the lives of poor South Africans, when everyone looked unto him as ‘The Messiah.’ As a man of principle he knew violence can’t be used to solve violence. He started advocating for peace and calling for forgiveness shortly after being released from prison and during presidency. Mandela is gone but the question left to be answered is what lessons can the world learned from him?

He was a man with great integrity, a passionate commitment to freedom and equality with empathy and respect for all people. This everyone should emulate to create a better world. Many leaders who would have experienced what Mandela went through, would have wanted revenge but he quickly went into negotiations with the minority white government. Finally humility played a significant role in the life of the black leader, opening his heart to love instead of to hate. The inspirational and sad of Mandela can’t be wiped away from history. The next generation will grow to be familiar with his struggle, ideology and philosophy. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

Nelson Mandela. Photo credit: Country office.unfpa.org


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