9th December, 2013
Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy should serve as lessons to Nigerian callous and corrupt rulers.
Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid crusader, philanthropist and South Africa’s president between 1994 and 1999, died on 5 December at the age of 95 after a long illness.
Mandela was the first black South African to hold the office of President and the first person elected in that country in the first democratic election.
Mandela so much impacted lives in his country that he received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna.
He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata (Father). He is often described as the father of the nation.
Even after spending 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison, Mandela forgave his jailers and went on to build a united multi-racial South Africa.
As South Africa’s first black president, Mandela formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse racial tension.
He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses.
His administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services.
Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho.
He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki.
Mandela became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Mandela lived a good life and sacrificed all for the good of his country and the people of South Africa.
The encomiums being showered on the departed leader all over the world are well deserved. People remember him for the good things he did and the hearts he touched while he was alive.
He is a lesson for Nigerian ruthless rulers whose main preoccupation is to enrich themselves and die in power.
Our leaders or rulers should emulate Mandela if they would like to be remembered well.
They must impact the lives of their people and leave power when their time is up if they want us to have any respect for them when they are still here or after they are gone.