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Mandela's greatness is unmatched

19 July 2013, 18:08 Paul Orodi

Better known as Nelson Mandela, the African father and true champion of harmony has just clocked 95 and he the celebration around the world is ripe for the first black president of South Africa. At home they know him as Madiba which is in reference to his clan, Tata which is means ‘Father’, Khulu which means ‘great’ and many others.

Having served a jail term of 27 years for supposedly being a terrorist, he was expected to cling on to power until death. But to the contrary and surprise of many, the iconic leader who now lies on his hospital bed on support machines made a dramatic move that saw him exit power just after his first term. This was not expected and when he decided enough was enough with the presidency, the whole world was in shock.

People argued that he should have hang on the presidency until he can no longer execute duties but he saw things differently. To him, 27 years in an isolated prison in Rhodes Island was no ticket for him to rule for eternity. What mattered most were the achievements with regard to freeing South Africa off apartheid rule and ensuring a safe progression for the people of South Africa whether black or white or Asian.

Nelson - a name given to him by his teacher – is a true reflection of a great leader. Even after being branded a terrorist by the British government, he still went on to extend a hand of reconciliation in a bid to foster cordial relations with the former colonialists. He saw no need for sidelining the whites even after attaining self governance and independence. Unlike other African leaders, Mandela embraced the white folks and even asked the rest of South Africa to accommodate them because they were South Africans just like any other black South African.

However the most memorable of all his acts as president is when he graced the world cup final staged in South Africa way back in 1995. Having just ascended to the highest office, Mandela was the most powerful man and without a doubt most influential of all South Africans. The team was being captained by a white man; François Pienaar, Mandela put away all the memories of harm done to him by people of the white race and graced the event which happened to be the highly attended of all matches. In a springbok’s shirt and cap, Mandela supported the springboks to the final whistle and when all was said and done, he graced the field to present the trophy to the South African captain who had lead the team to a deserving 15-12 victory over New Zealand.

Just before the world cup, South Africa had just been readmitted to the IRB after having struck a deal to end apartheid. Mandela having just come out of prison did not derail this dream of achieving a free and peaceful society by agitating for revenge but rather he ensured that the deal struck in 1992 between the International Rugby Board and the South African Rugby union was upheld and embraced by all parties within the rugby circuit and also in the external spheres like soccer and government as a whole.

Looking back at how far Mandela has come, one can only wish him eternity as he fights for his life in the hospital. He has made a name for himself albeit not consciously but rather subconsciously. Whatever he stood for, he made sure nothing derailed him and that is why when the government of the day told him and his co-accused to publicly deny their involvement in fighting for a free South Africa so that they may be released, he confidently refused the deal. To him it did not matter that all his co-accused were leaving prison it only mattered that his beliefs and principles are upheld even amidst the rot in society. That is why he did not follow what most African leaders have done over the years; to cling on to power even when it is clear your favor with the masses has fizzled out.

Happy birthday to the iconic father of Africa and the true champion of harmony, peace, justice and true democracy.

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