Apr 18, 2011, 3:02 PM
A TRIBUTE TO NELSON MANDELA ON HIS 90TH BIRTHDAY
From the gushing waters of the
I know young men everywhere admire the sterling leadership qualities of Nelson Mandela but I envy Madiba, his charisma, his personal magnetism; and his extraordinary charm which have had devastating effects on beautiful women. Any man who can make Naomi Campbell weep tears of genuine joy has my respects but when that man is an octogenarian, it becomes obvious that this a luminous man and his words and actions reflect the radiance of his spirit. Madiba told us that in his youth he was a snappy dresser and would dance all night with the lovely ladies of
So the old man has an eye for the finer things of life and if it were not for the horrors of the apartheid regime, which was legalized in 1948, Madiba might have had a quieter life. But the great oppression and the brutality of the apartheid regime propelled Madiba and thousands of his countrymen and country women to the forefront of the struggle that consumed all the energies of his youth at the expense of a normal family life. But Madiba was not unique in this regard, as he always reminds us, that he shared those years with their ups and downs with thousands of his compatriots; and that record of changing moods, of exaltation as at his Rivonia Trial and of depression as at the Sharpeville Massacres, of intense activity and enforced solitude, was their common record.
Madiba was one of a mass, moving with it, swaying it occasionally, being influenced by it; and yet, like the other units, a prince, apart from the others, living his separate life in the heart of the crowds. Leaders pose often enough and struck up attitudes, but there was something very real and intensely truthful in much of what Madiba and his compatriots did, and this lifted them out of their petty selves and made them more vital and gave them an importance that they would otherwise not have had. Madiba was fortunate enough to experience that fullness of life which comes from attempting to fit ideals with action. And he realised that any other life involving a renunciation of these ideals and a tame submission to superior force, would have been a wasted existence, full of discontent and inner sorrow.
Political freedom alone was not the ultimate goal. It was to be the enabling condition for the gradual building up of a 'Rainbow Nation' in which the greatest number of its citizens, free from the pressure of the dehumanizing force of apartheid and exacting economic demands would have enough time to devote themselves more and more to the cultivation of the things of the mind and spirit and able to have the happiness of a full life.
This is why Madiba's birthday is so significant for the young everywhere and in
Madiba is a great man fully alive to his responsibilities, and it was only the firmest conviction, the fullest faith and love of his country that prompted his actions. His single-mindedness and unselfishness, his sacrifice and the sacrifices of the others who gave their lives in the anti apartheid struggles inspired the national resurgence which continued until full equality was achieved in
Times have proved Nelson Mandela to be prophetic. "During my lifetime I have dedicated myself 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 live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it's an ideal for which I am prepared to die". Madiba foresaw what few could then have foreseen, and to his foresight and his insight into the hearts of his people, South Africans of all races owe the privileges they enjoy today.
In the pantheon of great African leaders, in my view Madiba compares to only three of them. Namely Nkrumah of Ghana, Nyerere of Tanzania and Senghor of Senegal; Kwame Nkrumah for his inspiring and revolutionary PanAfricanist vision, Nyerere for his moral clarity and principled politics and Senghor for his verve, erudition, civility and elegance. In Madiba all these wonderful traits of a great leader are harmoniously blended.
What was Madiba's 90th birthday wish when he blew out the candles? Family members and journalists may have asked that question? But the answer should be obvious to all: "I dream of the realization of the unity of
Africans cannot adequately celebrate or honour the life of Mandela if we do not work and strive to bring about the
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADIBA.