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President Nelson Mandela's Life Of Sacrifice, Justice, And Reconciliation...
President Nelson Mandela’s Life Of Sacrifice, Justice, And Reconciliation…
President Nelson Mandela, one of the political giants that walked the face of our earth has died. On a personal note, President Nelson Mandela was the cause of my knowing that a living could be had from writing… well, a sort of writing. After leaving Saint Kitts as a teenager, I went back as a young man to see my beloved grandmother who had raised me; I was on leave from the United States Army then and one of my childhood heroes, Mr. Hutchinson, from my hamlet of Saint Pauls,’ wanted to know if I still wrote poetry and that if I still did… to write something about the then jailed South African revolutionary leader, Nelson Mandela. I promptly put pen to paper and wrote a poem about Mr. Mandela, which was then given to another childhood friend (Tumba) who entered the country’s Calypsonian competition and came in first-runner-up. I had made arraignment that if Tumba had won or placed in the competition… that he should give one third of the winnings to my grandmother, which he never did. To this day, I do not remember the lyrics that I wrote in honor of Mr. Mandela - but such was his life and struggles that influenced even a boy from a far away Eastern Caribbean Island of Saint Kitts/Nevis.
It is a given that most political leaders of conscience were born in abject poverty and that knowing ‘want’ was the impetus for them to seek social change - this was not so with Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, the later who became President of the African National Congress (ANC), a movement established to fight the racist Apartheid system in South Africa. As a matter of fact, Mr. Mandela was born into privilege… into August surroundings; he went to school in August surroundings; and, for a while, he was employed in August surroundings as one of the first Black successful South African lawyers. But alas, the perdition that was Apartheid was too much for Nelson Mandela to see and bear, notwithstanding his August lifestyle as a successful lawyer compare to most of his fellow Black South African brethren. And so Mr. Mandela became a revolutionary… first seeking change by peaceful means… then through justified violence, which, subsequently resulted in his 27th year jail sentence in the infamous Robben Island… ‘infamous’ because of its hardship for those incarcerated there… manifested in the Tuberculosis that Mr. Mandela caught in that prison and endured for the rest of his life.
Something extraordinary happened while Mr. Mandela was in jail because he vehemently turned and rejected violence and though bereft of friends, family, and the modern amenities… he maintained his peaceful resolve and challenged and petitioned the White South African leaders and the world to free him and his people from the disparities - social and otherwise - that were Apartheid. Mr. Mandela sacrifice paid off and he was released and he became President of South Africa, over the very jailers who had jailed him for some 27 years… almost akin to the Biblical Joseph, who governed Egypt. President Nelson Mandela not only became President of South Africa but even secured and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with his predecessor, FW-De-Klerk and reconciled the two races without the bloodletting that political pundits were expecting.
Who among us could forgive those who wronged us like how President Mandela did for his White countrymen in South Africa, even those of us who conspicuously call ourselves Christians? On a personal note, we must be careful not to turn President Mandela into an idol or a saint because, he himself, reminded us in one of his speeches that he is not a saint - but in fact a flawed sinner trying to live the Christian life… that is why he was able to forgive those that hurt him.
Lest we forget those African National Congress’ emancipators who went on before President Mandela… and, permit me to add some of my own; these men include his brothers in the struggle against Apartheid like Joshua Nkomo and Steven Biko and to those other liberators like President Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, William Wilberforce, Robert Llewelwyn Bradshaw (Saint Kitts’ first Prime Minister), John Brown of Harpers’ Ferry fame, Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, the Biblical Joseph, and the Lord Himself, Jesus-The-Christ.
There is an apt scripture that I think pertains to President Mandela for in the Word of God, specifically in Psalm 90, which says, in part: The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. President Mandela lived to be 95 and flew away a couple days ago... rest in Christ Jesus’ peace, Madiba!