Commentary

Mandela’s death is a huge loss to Africa

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By Russell Moro

Posted  Monday, December 16  2013 at  02:00
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The passing of Nelson Mandela stirred emotions right across the globe, instantaneously ushering momentary uncertainties too. Immediate dilemma for South Africa’s government was whether to stage in his honour a celebratory memorial or one of mourning. If a verdict was reached on the issue none was publicised, making for fair amounts of floundering at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium on December 10.

Thankfully divine intervention materialised timely, banishing uncertainty about a predominant theme for the occasion. Heaven opened up on cue, quite possibly at the intercession of Mandela’s ancestors. Dark clouds shrouded Johannesburg, imposing a somber mood on proceedings. Even heaven appeared sufficiently swayed: Mandela’s passing, his age regardless, is loss for which Africa stands worse off.

Encouragingly, however, in Africa rain signifies blessings. Hence for anyone entertaining misgivings about Mandela’s upward passage, heaven’s open gate - no less - would have allayed all concerns. Moreover, such open inlet would have accorded Mandela unimpeded view, likely from heaven’s equivalence of a royal box, of events down below. More still, for those unable to contain emotions the incessant rain was perfect mask for limitless teardrops.

In his lifetime Mandela advocated reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. What joyous sight, therefore, it was to behold of USA’s Barack Obama and Raul Castro of Cuba reaching across an otherwise impenetrable ideological divide for a historic handshake. And the image of his companions from significant stretches of life’s journey, Winnie and Graca sharing kisses despite being sorrowfully wrought, exemplified the dignity with which Mandela himself bore profound personal setbacks.
Mandela was a giant fashioned on a most rare scale.

Hence attempts to size him invariably come up short. But grasping basics of the making of generic leaders provides a sense of his awesome stature. Adverse environment generated by one government yields a disfigured leadership blue-print.

Generations of leaders routinely bequeath such damaged specimens. Unwittingly, Africa’s leaders are mostly moulded into shoddy imprints of predecessors. All too often, therefore, in places of vanquished tyrants replicas sprout.