Amidst all the warm and expressive tributes pouring in from all the corners of what should be a cornerless globe, it is easiest to simply jump into the fray, share Madiba photos, post tributaries on social media, make him the subject of conversations and watch the ceaseless stream of television broadcasts of his life and times.
What should be done however, is the succinct articulation of what Nelson Mandela represents. It would be beneficial to review the lessons he taught with the intention to heed or at the very least, reconsider them very strongly. Mortality has rendered him unable to make contributions beyond a certain time limit. All Madiba could have done and has done was make significant contributions and inspire others well enough to take the baton and run with increased speed and vigor. The rest is up to those who remain. What has Madiba taught us? To mention a few:
This tops the list because it is a visible, tangible core of Madiba’s character. What he belived he believed. He would either walk the full length of the road or die trying. Not under the sun or moon would he be caught sneaking back, changing his mind, accepting a foreign conviction. It took this core virtue to keep him from being dissuaded despite the obvious powers of his enemies. 27 years in imprisonment should have broken his spirit and made him reconsider or at the very least regret and despair. But all the pain and opposition were frail assailants against the formidable rock of resoluteness lodged within Madiba. Madiba has taught us to be resolute, unflinching about the things we believe. He said concering a democratic South Africa “… It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”
The concept of otherness refers to the reality that the world is a place of variety. There are people who are different from us and whose culture (total way of life) are different from ours. They laugh differently. They talk in ridiculous accents. They pronounce ‘air’ as ‘hair’ and ‘hair’ as ‘air.’ The human error here is what Madiba calls ‘the oppression of one by the other.’ This was the error of apartheid and racism. It was also the essence of Madiba’s struggle. Our differences, whatever they are do not signify the superiority of one group over another. Our differences are just that – differences. Nothing more. And while we can learn from one another and correct the wrongs we identify in the activities of others, it shouldn’t be on the basis of scorn and hatred but on love and a common humanity. We should realize that alongside our obvious differences are obvious similarities. Madiba said he was willing to die for this.
To err is human. There will always be conflict. The pot of variety that the world is made up of would often become over heated and there would be vigorous bubbles of conflicts. After the fight however, there should be reconciliation. Resolution should not be farfetched but at hand. This might mean one of the disagreeing parties would have to play the fool. But it is well worth it. The peace of reconciliation is worth any price.
After 27 years of imprisonment which was preceded by a life in which he was subjected to high levels of inhumanity simply because of the colour of his skin, Madiba preached reconciliation. He knew of his comrades who had been slain in the Sharpville massacre and other similar incidences, yet he urged renewed friendship where there had been brutal enimity. He seemed to believe that regardless of the extent of conflict, we can always return to the place of friendship where we belong.
Hardwork and Giving our Best
Madiba gave his best for what he was convinced should be the life of his people. He said at some point he realized that his freedom and that of his fellow people of colour, had been taken away, and so decided to take it back. Like many worthwhile goals, this quest proved to be unachievable until there was a lot of sweat, a lot of blood, a lot of sleepless nights and hoarse voices, vocal chords had to be flattened out by shoutings in crowded rallies. As Madiba articulately put it, the walk to this freedom was long. The goal looked squarely in his face and demanded decades of his life. It said he had to acquire military training from North Africa. It coldly requested absence from his wife and children. It refused to allow the ordinary cozy life deviod of fugitivity. The goal said unlike his neighbours, he would have to look over his shoulder as he walked, he would have to be the vulnerable leader of the pack, striding in front of the march and suspectible to the harm of the ferocious enemy. Madiba, in his signature calm demeanour, glared back at the goal and said ‘…it is an ideal for which I am willing to die.’
He gave his best.
We too should give our best, for Madiba proved that by giving ones best, an established evil like aparthied can be undone and a man sentenced to a life in solitary confinement can turn and become President of the country, the first with a dark skin.
‘Where there is no Vision, the people perish’ – an instructive statement from the Bible. Vision is in degrees. There is the immediate sight of the things around us. With it we see the challenges, we see our strengths, we see our slippery spots, we see the problems in their varying sizes, we see life as it is. There is also the ability to see the unseen, to see a tangibility of our dreams. It is a vision that possess and transforms a person into a robot programmed to realize the vision. Often times, this sort of vision is larger than the visioneer. Madiba had this sort of vision for his people and for his country, South Africa. He saw a society in which skin colour would occupy the meaninglessness it should while the common humanity that transcends differences would take centre stage. He saw a South Africa where a man of colour, a black man could be President, could be an employer of white labour, could sit in the same public bus as his white counterpart and have a chat with him. He saw freedom. And like most visioneers, he led people to it.
What do you see?
Madiba said ‘I want those who remain behind to be able to say:this man has done his duty to his country and to his people.’
He served his people and is great for it. His story is an evidence of the words of Jesus Christ when He said to His disciples ‘…’
Via demonstrations, military training in North Africa, press intetviews, 27 years in prison, settlement negotiations, as President, as an Elder Statesman, Madiba served. He referred to service as a duty.
Laughing, Dancing and Hapiness
Footages abound of Madiba’s captured dancing moments. Some call it the Madiba shuffle. It basically comprises of a continous movement of curved arms. But its technicality does not matter as much as the dancing heart from which the movements emanate. As he dances, he is caught beaming with a laughter so real and sincere. Madiba exemplified the importance of hapiness, of laughter, of merriment, of dancing. There should come a time when we have worked and achieved and won, then we should merry and dance.
So long, Madiba, farewell.