From the Editor’s Keyboard

Madiba’s Passing: End of an Era in South Africa

By  | 12 December 2013 at 18:25 | 1236 views

The late former South African President Nelson Mandela has meant many things to many people just as his life itself had several facets, angles and perspectives. The man faced many challenges and used several strategies and tactics to address them.

As his life unfolded and evolved over the years he increasingly became a source of inspiration and role model not only to South Africans of all colours but to people all over the world. He was a gigantic role model to me. And this is why I say that:

1. The late Madiba suffered enormously for what he believed in and was ready to pay the price. He could have been a very successful lawyer in apartheid South Africa, making money and living a middle class life with his beautiful wife Winnie, like many educated black South Africans at the time. But no, he decided to stick his neck out and take a stand in the interest of his less fortunate brothers and sisters who were being humiliated, suppressed and enslaved in their own country by the brutal and savage apartheid system. I have also suffered for my beliefs and opinions in my native country, Sierra Leone, at the hands of unenlightened, uncivilized and uncouth brutes who do not want to be criticized for their stupidity and ignorance. But of course I cannot dream to compare myself to Madiba in terms of persecution and suffering.

2. Despite what had been done to him, Madiba never wavered in his dedication to his country, continuing the struggle even within the walls of prison, while undergoing enormous suffering. I have also continued the struggle, thousands of miles away, to help make my country a better place despite enormous odds and numerous attempts to discourage me. Madiba had and continues to inspire me to continue the struggle; if he could do it in prison for 27 years, who am I to complain?

3.Despite what his enemies and the enemies of his people had done to him, Madiba came out of prison and held out his hand, reaching out to his oppressors, telling them not to be afraid, asking them to join him to build the new South Africa out of the blood and tears of the old South Africa, the evil apartheid South Africa. And he made it happen. It takes a man to forgive his enemies. I have also long ago forgiven the people who had tried to harm me and other Sierra Leoneans many years ago for our opinions and for challenging their incredibly cruel stupidity and ignorance in state governance. I hope the cosmos would make some of them who have not yet seen the light to finally see it one day, to regain their sight from their present blindness. Some have seen the light and I have once again embraced them as friends and compatriots, just as Madiba did to people that tried to eliminate him.

Finally, I would like to appeal to brother Jacob Zuma, the current President of South Africa, to follow Madiba’s path always. Do not persecute white South Africans as they had done to you personally and to other black South Africans. Do not let today’s children suffer for the sins of their fathers, grand-fathers, great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers. Do not take away the lands their fore-fathers stole, but you may ask for compensation. Do not follow brother Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe’s example. Please brother Zuma, continue to follow Madiba’s path of peace and reconciliation. Madiba gave you and your people political freedom, just Like Moses did in the Bible. Madiba’s passing is the end of an era, the era of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Your job now is to offer your people the equally challenging and difficult gift of economic freedom and independence. And you can only do this with help and cooperation of ALL South Africans, no matter their colour or background. I wish you good luck, my brother.

Here is South African musician Johnny Clegg doing the very popular Mandela song, Asimbonanga (We want to see him):