LET’s celebrate the life and times of Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela. He is the last legend to grace the annals of recorded politics in Africa.
Mandela and Robert Gabriel Mugabe are two African lions born on the same day, and Mandela the elder and the most terrible one. He has become something of an oddity in a continent characterised by political cynics.
He is an enduring symbol of national reconciliation and a beacon of hope for all the nationalities of South Africa. His characteristic candour when dealing with the teething problems of the country makes him an asset and reliable.
He epitomised a fund of goodwill within the political arena when he said he was attracted by socialism based on marxist leninism. In some political quarters, it was thought he was making an apostasy of some kind (meaning that he was changing his Christian faith).
However his imprisonment on Robben Island and subsequent suffering at the hands of apartheid is in itself a service to his Christian faith. His generosity of spirit when dealing with his past persecutors was really quite inspiring for the course of racial harmony when journalists and a political activist was killed by apartheid forces.
He had this to say, “Ingrid Jonker is both an Afrikaner and an African and a citizen of the world.” Such is the stature and the infinite discretion that he wielded.
His humble nature belied his political and moral courage.
The celebrated African American scholar, Cornel West, once said about Mandela, “he constitutes such a challenge for us, a political challenge, a moral challenge and an existential challenge”.
“Fates, we will know your pleasures: That we shall die, we know; ’tis but the time. And drawing days out, that men stand upon” – Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Thobile Matshoba-Mdekazi, Port Elizabeth