Khan Ahmad Hilal
No one is indispensable. Yet, history is replete with individuals whose absence or presence changed the course of human events and altered the fate of nations. Most of these were autocrats whose accumulation of power was itself the reason to fear the vacuum resulting from their departure. But Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday, Dec. 5, at the age of 95, became indispensable because he had dispensed with the things that empowered tyrants and with which they rarely parted: pride, power, anger and vengeance.
Madiba, an honorific for Mandela, was a man with ambition, a man with humor,a proverbial gentleman ,trustworthy and whom I personally respect as a great leader and love as a man ,who brought resistance to peace. He was someone who didn’t ignore the needs of the people, even at the expense of his own family. Mandela embraced sacrifices to his nation without hesitation. His words had imbued millions of south Africans and people around the world with the hope that a new South Africa was about to be born. He had received more than 250 honourable awards and a Noble Peace Prize (1993) which he shared with former South African president FW de Klerk, along with many peace and educational activities.
From a country childhood, a young boy, schooled for royalty, to political activist, to the dark years in the Robben Island as a prisoner, to freedom as President, to the respected scholar and statesman, Nelson Mandela has contributed and sacrificed so much for his nation and also around the world. His contribution to the world has been named as ‘Mandela Day’ on his July 18 birthday as his birth anniversary.
Nelson Mandela had a vision which led him to fight for a better mankind. In the early years, Mandela had a dream where he saw an Africa with apartheid being eliminated and men being free and equal. It was this vision that pushed him to do what he was supposed to do and it was also this vision that made him believe that he still has hope through the darkest days in prison. The great man’s perseverance made him believe that one day he could succeed in freeing the people from the prejudiced past. His political outlook was very much informed by his fascination of the structure and organization of early African societies.
Mandela hated racial discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. He never gave up even though he was imprisoned for twenty-seven years before being elected to be the first president of South Africa. His ability to steer through its rebirth earned him the international reputation of a benevolent negotiator and a quintessential peacemaker. Mandela exemplifies how a strategic leader adjusts strategy and execution amid complex social, political, legal and economic forces without compromising deeply held values.
He taught us that leadership is not about merely motivating people and creating political support for a strategy but also maintain broad support through successive adjustments to the plan. He admired Gandhi, Martin Luther king, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt who, to a great extent, were the champions of human rights in different eras.
Madiba’s life is an epic struggle of learning and growing, hardship, resilience and a vivid testimony to an unusual mixture of courage, persistence, tolerance and forgiveness. He was a man whose idealism and hope have inspired a world prone to cynicism. Mandela was one of the few leaders capable of inspiring confidence both inside and outside the country. Few others would have managed to unite the disparate warring parties and steer South Africa from what seemed to be the brink of civil war.
Mandela emerged out of prison undiminished in 1990 expressing no bitterness towards his tormentors. Instead, he championed reconciliation among South Africa’s polarised races, espousing the principles of nation-building and co-operative governance and the years in Robben Island didn’t diminish his beliefs.
Madiba’s hunger for freedom forced him to live like a monk but he didn’t give up; instead he succeeded in liberating both the oppressed and the oppressor. He united South Africa as one country, one nation ,one people, marching together toward the future. To some, Mandela had a near-omnipotent power at the negotiating table, carrying with him an indubitable moral authority and gentle but firm sense of fairness.
The greatest tribute we can pay to this man who has made an impact on his country, his continent and humankind is to uphold his universal idealism. In summation , I conclude with his wise words:
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
—The author works in the Revenue Department. (Views expressed are the author’s own). He can be reached at: email@example.com