Madiba Mandela: Modern Messiah

By M.O. Ene
Life is so simple a story it is worth repeating whenever a great person departs our world: If you are born, you will die. This is the first law of nature, the ironic law of life. Life itself is a set of personalized variables bracketed in a basically dormant domain by two constants: birth and death. Lucky are those who find the customized values for their variables, which are encoded in everyone’s palm prints (destiny). Fulfilled are those who find their values and use them to balance the essential equations of life.
Nelson Mandela was fulfilled and, unlike many before him, he lived long to reap the fruits of his labor of love. Mandela was indeed lucky; he found the values for the variables of his life. He applied them to the essential equations of his native South Africa, and ended up leaving a lasting legacy for the international community. He was a lucky man, a man of destiny, and a man whose Chi, godly guardian, accompanied from cradle to the coffin, from birth to death.
The story of Mandela’s life is common knowledge. Rehashing them is like selling bottled sunshine in high-noon Africa. This much must be told: Mandela could have stayed in his small village home of Qunu and ended up a chief of his community, living off government handouts and living large with a harem of wives. He could have lived in Johannesburg, practicing law lucratively, staying married to his beautiful wife Winnie, spending time with his wonderful family, and enjoying the relative luxury of then South African urban middleclass.
Mandela could have lived a very good life in the 1960s and beyond. He didn’t.
Mandela found his calling and, most importantly, he was prepared to die for it. In his in 1964 public statement before he was held captive for 27 years, he stated: “During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Many people have dreams, big and small dreams; many more are believers of all sorts of faiths and principles. It is easy to dream; dreams come most naturally. It is also easy to believe in anything that catches one’s fancy, and it does not have to be religious. The meat of the matter is that only few are committed to their dreams. Very few—in fact one or two persons in an entire generation—are prepared to die for their beliefs.
President Barack Obama’s speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 captured the embodiment of such select legends in Mandela:
“Like Gandhi, he [Mandela] would lead a resistance movement—a movement that at its start held little prospect of success. Like King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed, and the moral necessity of raciEmperor Haile Selassie was prophetic in his address to the United Nations on October 6, 1963: “On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson: That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation; :::; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; :::. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.”
Mandela anchored that hope in the power of good over evil, the power of people over the fantasies of fiends. It is interesting to note that the first word Mandela spoke publicly after his release from prison is “Amandla!” – to which people responded, Awethu! Power belongs to the people; the power to lead them, and the power to make their lives better—not oppress them, as is currently obtained in many African countries.
Mandela had no hate in his veins for humanity; he simply hated “the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior.” Apartheid was evil; Mandela looked it in the face and called it just that: Evil. Like all evil institutions, apartheid struck back at him and others with murderous mayhem and psychophysical torture.  Many wonder how Mandela could have forgiven the 27 years of incarceration and embraced his prisoners. Simple: The struggle was not about Mandela, the man. The revolution was about a purpose: freedom for all South Africans—black, colored, white, Xhosa, Indian, Zulu, etc.—a rainbow nation. Harboring anger would have played into the hands of those who posited that apartheid was necessary for the survival of minority Afrikaans in a majority African population. Luckily, there was Mr. F.W. de Klerk, who recognized that Mandela meant well and partnered with him for a spot on the right side of history.
Freedom did not come with the release of Mandela, Prisoner No. 466/64; it came from the ballot boxes: votes. Mandela kept a cool head throughout the troublesome and troubling transition. He saw the transition through. He kept true to his word of condemning black oppressors as he had condemned white oppressors. He succeeded. He became president, the first president of South Africa.
Those calling Mandela the first “Black President” miss the point; there was really no president of ALL South Africans before Mandela. The so-called “presidents” elected by a select section of the population were interlopers, pretenders to the throne of trust. It is similar to counting military dictators as “presidents”; they are not. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma was right in calling Mandela “the founding President of our democratic nation.”
Mandela stayed for just one term of five years and, despite all entreaties, he walked away from political power. He left and enjoyed the rest of his life with his wife, Graça Machel, the only woman in history to have been first lady of two countries: Mozambique (1975-1986) and South Africa (1998-1999).
Until his death, Mandela remained the moral authority of South Africans, of Africans, and of many nations worldwide. The truth of this assertion is upheld by the unprecedented number of heads of government and royalty that gathered to bid Mandela farewell from earthly existence.
Mandela was a great man. His greatness sprang from knowing what he wanted in the marketplace of confliction cultures and futile formations we call life. He was lucky to have had his Chi (godly guardian) reveal his mission in life. He went for it, even at the risk of losing his life, and he accomplished the mission: Freedom. Mandela is indeed free at last; he got his total freedom from the shackles of fear on Thursday, December 5, 2013, when the journey he started in 1918 came to a final end.
Mandela is an iconic hero of history. The world would have been a different place without Nelson Mandela. Many Africans expected Mandela to live forever: They just got their wish: The man, the physical person, passed; but, going forward, his legacy lives. The symbol must never die. It is now incumbent on Africans to carry the touch of truth to power and make sure it shines forever. We must never doubt our abilities to make a difference. We must no longer doubt that one man can make a humongous difference. We must count ourselves lucky to have lived to see many moons of Mandela’s era. We must never stop doubting that the demented dictators that hold Africa down will one day be consigned collectively to the footnotes of fat history books glorifying the likes of Madiba Mandela, the Modern Messiah.
Madiba Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is gone: Long may he live.

M. O. Ene, Ph.D. writes from New Jersey, USA
al justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War.”
“Emerging from prison, without force of arms, he would—like Lincoln—hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. Like America’s founding fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations—a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power.”
Mandela taught us never to give up on hope, to believe in the eventual triumph of good over evil. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan are no more, but history will remember them as failed sustainers of apartheid, supposed leaders of the free world who tried to hold back the hand of the clock of progress, who looked the other way in the face of evils of apartheid.

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Posted by on Dec 23 2013. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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