YESTERDAY A HERO, FOREVER A LEGEND

     Even the greatest of kings have to step down from their thrones. These were the first few words that filtered through my head when I heard about the sad demise of one of the most influential people of the 20th century. Quite frankly, his death was expected and inevitable and at the age of 95,it could be boldly described as a life well spent. However, when one considers the fact that he spent 27 years of his life in prison and how his mere existence emboldened and inspired several people to greatness, one cannot help but feel he was ‘gone too soon’.
    For the sake of readers who do not know the great Madiba (is that even possible??), he was a South African anti-apartheid activist who after spending over a quarter of his life in prison became the first black South African president. He was also the first to be elected in a fully representative election. A philanthropist, a democratic socialist and an African nationalist.
     Mr. Mandela was one of the most extraordinary liberation leaders  Africa and indeed every other continent ever produced. He led his people to overcome the deeply rooted system of apartheid that prompted racial segregation in every South African life and this he achieved without the bloodshed so many people envisaged.
     His admirable strength of character equipped him for his long struggle, pain and ultimate victory over apartheid. A boxer in his youth, Mandela showed his never say never attitude and even in the face of death, courage and strong will prevailed.
      As President from 1994 to 1999,he exhausted much energy in pacifying and moderating the bitterness of his black electorate while assuring the white populace who had fears of a backlash. After working tirelessly for the people of South Africa for 5 years he declined a second term, something inconceivable in modern Nigeria. Instead Mr. Mandela turned his attention to the continent as a peace broker.
    At the end of his lifetime he had already established himself as an international emblem of unity and even as the world celebrates the life of a legend, There stands to be few lessons Nigerian leaders can pick up from him. Leaders should realise that they are not living for themselves anymore. Being a leader does not start the day you are sworn into office but from the very point they stand and fight for a purpose and then you immediately become a slave to that cause.
     I’m talking to that self-centered classrep who does not realise he belongs to his fellow students. I’m talking to those heads of unions who only think about themselves and the  present. I’m talking to those power hungry politicians whose only concern are themselves and their generations. Live a life that would speak for itself, one deserving of sweet and rich words of fulfilment and selflessness and not one that would be sent off in a grand Abacha-esque style.
     Although Mr. Mandela requested for a quiet and simple exit,the world cannot help but scream       

‘ NELSON ROLIHLAHLA TATA MADIBA MANDELA,you may be gone but legacy will forever be etched in our collective memories’…

 

 

 

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