South Africa, known as a racially charged nation and the birthplace of contention from which the term apartheid got is name, has a lot to teach Nigeria and the rest of the world. The outpouring of love and condolences at the death of Mandela is for a good reason. Our lives have been enriched by one man. And the world is fortunate to have been touched by the life Nelson Mandela had lived. Although South Africans were initially jittery and fearful that bloodbaths would break out, they needn't worry. The purpose of this essay is to challenge Nigerian leaders and urge them to borrow a leaf from Mandela.
Mandela was and Mandela still is. His spirit lives and marches on in more hearts than we care to imagine. How I wish such beautiful words were said in my life time about another Mandela-type leader in Africa. Perhaps another Mandela would rise up in Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Burundi, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and many other African nations.
Mandela kept things together by his exemplary life.
How many Nigerian leaders ( military or civilian) have worn the shoes of Mandela in coming out against injustice, tribalism, or violence against children and women?
Mandela fought against oppression and injustice. He was pilloried and castigated in no small ways, yet endured to the end.
What Nigeria leader did as much as whisper in the face of pogrom and the boko violence? We hold Nigeria leaders responsible for any evil that overtakes persons in their charge. Who whimpers when graduates are jobless ten years after graduation? Tell me, Who cares that Paul is walking around with his BSc in electrical engineering neatly folded up in his back pockets?
Mandela ushered in peaceful elections.
We would love to see an Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Hausa, or Efik or leader from any tribe come out to advocate for free elections and to condemn vote buying, stuffing ballot boxes with fake papers, and other election improprieties.
Mandela paid the ultimate price for freedom for himself and others with 27 years spent in the dungeon.
We have not heard of a Nigeria leader who said no to robbery of the treasury or no to violence perpetrated by one group against another or chose jail time for taking a moral stand against corruption. Did any senator cry out: "Bring back our billions, bring all those zero's back to our grandchildren?"
Mandela fought for harmonious race relations between black and other South Africans.
Which Nigeria Senator, Governor, or House Representative has stepped out of shadows of fear, narrow tribal allegiance and suggested that Nigerian people at large should work things out cordially with neighbors from the Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, or any other ethnic groups? Did any Igbo, did any Yoruba, or did any Hausa? Who shall bell the cat?
Mandela went to prison for 27 years, refusing to change his position and suffering unjust penalty rather than see injustice done. Who in Nigeria is true? Don't they switch parties as monkeys swing on trees?
Mandela supported reconciliation by offering forgiveness and a second chance (without revenge and retributions) in the face of the horrors of apartheid. Is Abiola a type of Mandela?
What Nigerian leader has done anything to resolve the suspicion, selfishness, distrust, and ill-will among Nigerian political groups? Though we talk about the higher-ups, it does not absolve any of us at the totem pole.
Mandela shunned fame and opulence, preferring humility and the simple life to obsequious titles of Chief, Alhaji, Eze, Oba, or some other idiocy.
Isn't running for political office in Nigeria being motivated by our desire for money rather than love of country and public service for country? Didn't slain JFK say: "Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country?"
South Africa will survive because of the legacy that was Madiba. Despite what people say, South Africa will survive and is evolving tremendously for the better. South Africa shall not be the same "apartheid place" it once was because a change has come upon it. The place has been touched by the spirit of Mandela. There shall not be a bloodbath. South Africa is poised to be a superpower, benefitting from the contributions of a rainbow population as a beacon of tremendous hope.
The spotlight is now on Nigeria.Who? Who shall carry the mantle of Mandela? Who?
COPYRIGHTED Saturday, December 7, 2013