It’s Nelson Mandela month! What do the longest serving African leaders learn from Mandela?
(By: Julius P. Kessy)
It’s July, It’s Nelson Mandela month and the global call is out for people everywhere to celebrate the fearless leader and a principled man of great wisdom. He may be gone and his image may have been blurred by the passage of time but the truth is that he continues to live on through the values he taught of which we each owe it to him. Mandela has shown how, he doesn’t want a legacy cast in copper, monuments or highways but a living legacy of volunteerism and service to humanity. His well-placed heart and a determined mind made his life an inspiration to the world, everyday needs to be a Mandela day and he would be honoured if such days serve as bold announcements for people to recognise their individual power to make an imprint and help to change the world around them for the better, it is in our hands now. However, the question remains; What better direction can we take as a continent while walking under the symbolic shadow of Mandela? Yes, Africa is known as the richest continent in natural resources, with the youngest population in the world, yet it is the poorest despite the aid flow. This provides a keen insight as leadership and democracy remains the continent’s biggest challenge for development. After spending 27 years in jail, Mandela served only one term as the President of South Africa. Unlike in our times where when such smooth transition of power happens is a big news, there is no doubt that Africa needs more leaders of Mandela’s caliber who are driven by an ethos of selfless leadership and service. These leadership qualities epitomize over the old tired line “The people still love me” resorted by longest serving African leaders as a smokescreen to remain in leadership while painting a rosy picture to indicate support even where there is none. If we care to think from today’s conscience, this is at play in Africa and negates the basic requirements of ideal democracy and in extreme circumstances even when citizens die the constitution is sacrificed at the altar of greed. We, the continent’s majority-the youth are a crop of young leaders rising from the lows and therefore we have a role to play to ensure the transformation of the current state of leadership in the continent. Africa has, now and before, produced fine leaders such as Nelson Mandela and his contemporaries that have influenced change across the continent and beyond. Such leaders voluntarily handed power to their successors while the people still wanted them to stay on. Why not emulate them? Imagine how it feels exiting while the citizens still love you! There is single most humbling knowledge that leaders need to intimately embrace and that is we all die at some point, absolute power corrupt have entrenched the thirst for leadership to the point that, mortal leaders assume messiah position and still such sychophants hold a delusion that their constitutions allow for yet an extra term or can be amended overnight to elevate their positions to demi-gods. This delusion is what keeps reminding such leaders that, presidential palace starts and ends with them. I can say, Nelson Mandela was an African who made history, his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world is memorable. In return of the 67 years he spent to make the world a better place, we are asked to celebrate Mandela month in a unique way by devoting 67 minutes, one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service to show our appreciation to humanity. Mandela knew in his heart his own value and belief that he dedicated his life to creating a better society and as God rejoices his proud creation, so he rejoices in each of us, Mandela’s greatness wasn’t just in him or few but is in everyone, remembering in his words that; “It falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that great generation, let your greatness blossom”, Rest in peace rafiki Madiba.