The mess that is Africa: Learning from Madiba


This is my promise: I shall never relent till somebody human and noble enough from among the so-called leaders shall respond to the reality that Africa is going down because of its wicked medieval leaders.

Yes fellow citizens with all its celebrated resources Africa remains slow in developing, stagnant or even in reverse gear because the majority of its leaders care less whether alone in their own corners of the so-called sovereign states or as collective through the much famed but ineffectual African Union.

And that’s not to mean that Africa is filled with dull stupid leaders. Not Sir. That’s to mean that African leaders who every citizen wishes to love, respect and honour do not come near the deserts of such honour.


Yet someone does: The great Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

The fifth of December 2015 is the day Mandela died. This Saturday it will be exactly 24 months since Madiba joined his ancestors at Qunu where he abides in eternally rest after a long, hard and worthwhile life in a harshly ungrateful world.

Rather than recognition, African Holocaust suggests that it is Europeans who forced Mandela’s legacy on Africans as a leader and hero of a people who had no part in selecting him to this position.


Well, such is the mess of free speech, but I beg to differ and differ totally. Radical thinking it is believed but perverting to say the least.

To me and a large part of the civilised world, Nelson Mandela was no ordinary mortal, mortal though he was. Mandela was not just a politician as are thousands on the continent today. He was a unique model; a leader plus whose personality changed his country, Africa and the world.

Madiba was a freedom fighter par excellence; an outlaw created by the arrogance of apartheid and inhuman extremities of a settler minority become a power majority which sought to reverse history in the interest of unholy racial dominance.

In Nelson Mandela I always see a humble idealist who under extreme conditions had the strength, courage and determination to stick to ideals on which he based his negotiation for a better world for not only the people of South Africa, but the world.

This is a man who sacrificed his life, freedom and prospects for wealth within the ills of apartheid for the freedom of all the people in the bondage of white perpetrated apartheid.

For this sacrifice millions coming into South Africa are always awe-struck by the intense affection with which the people treat – and now remember – Mandela’s legacy after December 5th 2013.

For those who care to be human and recognise the stature of this one man in the history of national liberation his person will continue to teach courage, the power of idealism and the products of sacrificial leadership.

Rallying around Madiba people of South Africa withstood untold pain, extreme deprivation and dehumanization but remained staunchly determined to succeed. His personal triumph and of the South African collective is an emotive lesson in ‘moving mountains’ by simple faith.

Being human and driven by a deep sense of humanitarian purpose Mandela had the courage to forgive the worst of apartheid operatives, not to surrender in a moment of weakness, but to assure the multi-racial harmony that he had dedicated his whole adult life to.

Indeed it is through clemency that Madiba obtained the authority and moral high ground that he needed to unite country on the brink of racial carnage.

You see, Madiba freed not just black South Africans; he freed white South Africans from the bondage of racial bitterness; he liberated white people from self-moral destruction and gave many sub-humanised by evil a human character.

His legacy is never to be belittled let alone obliterated. That Mandela was both special and unique has wide testimony:

There was always an element of grace and humility in his demeanour which touched everyone.

Those close to him came face to face with humanity, dignity and authority; a stubbornly focused mind, a fierce determination to succeed and yet a kind warmth.

Mandela exuded with humour, honesty and humility of a form that offered hope in place of helpless hopelessness. Like Gandhi, Mandela came to be regarded a ‘secular saint of our time’ who first and foremost reflected humanness – uMunthu.

Asked what he learnt from Mandela, General Colin Powell said, the perfection of his mission and commitment to purpose; readiness to listen to everyone including enemies. In particular General Powell learnt that one can change one’s mind but not one’s principles.

Kathrada a friend and fellow freedom fighter sums up Mandela as ‘charismatic and charming’. This was a man who had both a ‘magnetic personality and a commanding presence’.

Nicky Oppenheimer ‘admired the determination of a man with more reason than anyone to look back in anger, instead look forward in hope’. As the Man himself said ‘resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping that it will kill your enemies’.

What do we learn and what do we do to keep the legacy alive?

Anger, resentment and retribution won’t build nations, nor will they nurture the Commonwealth of Nations.

African leadership must learn that patience is vital to achieving high goals of nation building and development. Leadership is not always about peace and leisure; leadership is calm absorption of extreme pressure and pain from all sources.

Leadership resides not in the exercise of power, but rather in the leader’s personal commitment to peace, the freedom and development of citizens.

For those who care to, the greatest honour due this Man is to pursue the work he started. African leaders must fight for the rights of all people irrespective of difference and protect the freedoms and liberties of people – not least children and women.

As we close, let leaders be human. Let leaders respect humanity in all its forms. Yes, let leaders eliminate racial and ethnic disharmony in favour of a holy unity of human kind.

Nothing could be nobler. Nothing at all!

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