My Mind: The year that took Mandela

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By Nafha Maani Ebrahimi

Posted  Sunday, December 29  2013 at  00:00

In Summary

In it’s last quarter, the world said good bye to another hero, one who shone light on the African continent and made it a mention on many tongues and this time for all the good reasons.


The year 2013 will soon no longer be! Although I have often been accused of being overly optimistic, and though I do not believe that number 13 actually brigs bad luck, I have come to the conclusion that 2013 was not such a good year. Apart from the natural disasters and catastrophes that engulfed some parts of the world like the Philippines, leaving thousands of victims dead, injured and many homeless. In the first quarter of 2013 Uganda and east Africa lost a wonderful human being, a great and kind friend to me and many others, honourable Eriya Kategaya. And in it’s last quarter, the world said good bye to another hero, one who shun a light on the African continent and made it a mention on many tongues and this time for all the good reasons, Nelson Mandela.

Not all bad
Their departure is not necessarily bad news, as they both lived fulfilling lives and aged gracefully and I believe that both are in a better place now. However, if their legacy is not upheld, it will indeed be sad. As I have spent most of December in South Africa, it is only logic to write more about the hopes and dreams of the rainbow nation for the year 2014.

Although family reasons brought me down here, I did get a lot out of my way to chat with people from all walks of life, and some of these chats do not bring glad tidings.

South Africans have been touched and humbled by the farewell given to their freedom fighter and hero Nelson Mandela by the whole world. It is said that the world has not seen such a convergence of high profile people from all walks of life, and even little children to celebrate the life of a man who once was considered an outlaw and who was put on a wanted list by the same people who came to pay their last respects to his physical remains.

Mandela’s legacy
However, some South Africans that I spoke with say that they hope that Mandela’s legacy will be upheld against all the temptations that surrounds people at the helm of power. Many are disappointed with the high level of corruption that the South African government is sinking in. They fear that after the funfair is over Mandela’s ideals and hopes for a just, and prosperous South Africa will also go.

Some believe that it will only get worse while others think that with time it will improve. A Zulu man told me that the road to improvement is only through education. He then said that he attended many meetings and rallies where politicians gave promises to the electorate, promises that according to him will never be fulfilled, he continued by saying that people are uneducated and do believe in these promises, but all that will change when people are more educated, the new generation will no longer accept such treatment nor will they believe these promises, the key is education, he concluded.

When I saw the way the whole world reacted towards a man who came from a nation that was boycotted for so many years, at some point I had to ask the question: What did he do to merit all this? The very famous iron lady Margaret Thatcher who ruled one of the most powerful kingdoms in the world also passed away in 2013, this event went by just as a news flash. In my opinion the super human act that Mandela performed was to make peace with his jailers, he shook their hands and even invited his jailer for a cup of tea!

How many leaders think in this way ?The world of politics is marred with corruption and greed and what is astonishing is that current leaders see what has happened with the tyrants of the history, but still think they can live for ever. And while the world is celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, the statue of Lenin was toppled in Kiev (Ukraine) Broken on the pavement, and the remaining smashed by hammers. I often wonder if leaders are watching the news like we do, or do they prefer to close their eyes, live in their ivory towers and think that this only happens to others!