By Bamidele Aturu
The news that Madiba Nelson Mandela stopped breathing on the 5th of December 2013 dispossessed many of us of the will, at least momentarily, to continue our daily preoccupations. It was shattering that a moral global icon of inimitable courage and large heartedness has finally gone the way of all mortals.
Mandela’s unbelievable selflessness and unsurpassed life of self-denial made us unconsciously to ascribe immortality to him precisely because he seemed to personify those qualities exclusively.
In a way we were selfish and foolish. We were selfish because we wanted just one man to carry all our burdens and do our duties of making the world just and equitable; Africans were more guilty in this regard as we wanted Mandela to live for forever so we can continue to show our thieving ‘leaders’ that it is possible not to loot treasuries or govern on the basis of vendetta and hate as Mandela did.
Of course, it was foolish to expect just one man, no matter the force of his example and the steeliness of his character, to reconstruct social relations for us. Revolutions may be inspired by the ideas and even organizational skills of individuals, but ultimately it is the business of the collective, social forces to make revolutions. A revolution of a single man outside the context of metaphor is a contradiction in terms.
Madiba’s death should awaken us to the unfinished revolutionary agenda in Africa. Even in South Africa real equality for which he lived and struggled remains a mirage. True, the blacks may be in power there and classical colonialism might have been thrown into the dustbin of history, there is no denying the obvious fact that Africa is administered inequitably.
Mass poverty mounts in the face of indefensible opulence of a tiny few; power is cornered by an unresponsive and irresponsible aristocracy everywhere in Africa. The dream of an inclusive society is far from being realized. As we continue to draw inspiration from the best legacies of Mandela, we should recommit ourselves to ridding Africa of all structures of inequity and inequality.
No one should be deceived by the crocodile tears and false tributes that African leaders are shedding or paying to his memory. Many of them are the enemies of our people and they are the direct opposite of what Madiba stood for. The task before the masses is to recreate the kind of pressures that produced the revolutionary upheavals that defeated colonialism in the 1960s.
History beckons. How we respond to the call for action will determine if we cherish or rubbish the memory of Madiba and his imperishable contributions to human progress. I am already working on an idea of convoking a mass rally on or before January 2014 to see how we can make use of Mandela’s legacies.
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