Madiba: Farewell to a Modern Legend. By Nse Tom

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is a human being, born of a woman into a society dominated with racial afflictions. He is known by his country-people as Madiba. A famous prisoner, a unifier, chief harmoniser, a forgiver, dream arouser, a fighter, a president, above all an exemplary leader who against all odds remained resolute not to negotiate his freedom, but to have it as his right. So it came to pass on February 11, 1990 when his tormentors became tired of holding him in captive, then reluctantly untied him of the 27 years old chains, thus marking the beginning of freedom to the black race in South Africa. The name Mandela is now synonymous to the word ‘prison’ in the ear of any seven years old.

As I watched and listened to tributes emerging from all corners of the earth acknowledging the life and time of this departed legend, even his enemies speaks no evil against him. My memory bounce back to my primary school era, recalling lyrics of those Nigerian musicians who raised their voices  to condemn the wicked apartheid regime that jailed Mandela for 27 years. Though children we were, dancing to the rhythms of our musicians who drummed up protests in condemnation to the worst racial government ever initiated in human history.

There is nothing I can write to explicitly describe this iconic man of our generation, whose spirit has become a force of consciousness for freedom seekers. As for Mandela, he give credits of freedom to a collective efforts of Africans who dreamed freedom, fought for freedom and finally got it. He frequently mentioned Oliver Tambo, Steve Biko, A. J. Luthuli, Z R Mahabane, Bram Fischer and other comrades dead and living. More of them he captures their acts in his ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.

Reading the autobiography ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ I learn to appreciate a man whose charisma intimidated his torturers, Madiba gave emotional tones to his readers and convinced the world that his struggle against apartheid was not a fight on racial ground, making several remarks on the role of Abram Louis Fischer, commonly known as Bram Fischer and other white comrades. He said ‘Fischer was one of the “bravest and staunchest friends of the freedom struggle that I have ever known. From a prominent Afrikaner family, he gave up a life of privilege, rejected his heritage, and was ostracized by his own people, showing “a level of courage and sacrifice that was in a class by itself.”

Coming back home to my country, I yearn to see a selfless leader who will strive to ensure that freedom from dehumanisation and indignity of citizenry becomes a priority on our road to liberation. Mandela fell ill on several occasions, but never embark on medical tourism, we are yet to count the wealth left behind after his death. Our leaders must reduce their taste for material accumulation and focus on what posterity will  remember them for. How long can we tarry to have our Mandela?