Commentary

Mandela’s legacy was built through sacrifice

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By Samuel A. Bakutana

Posted  Wednesday, December 18  2013 at  02:00
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I have not known a supermarket where one goes and picks whatever one wants without paying the price. This being the season of Mandela’s death, one aspect of his legacy needs ample emphasis, that is, his willingness to pay the price of freedom through great sacrifice.

Mandela spent 27 agonizing years in prison on Roben Island before becoming the country’s first black president in 1994. He refused special treatment while in prison. He denied himself the chance to be with his family. As he now goes to rest, no leader on the continent has equaled his global legacy.

That is typical of life in general and leadership in particular. There is always a price to pay for a product or service we need. Sir Winston Churchill expressed this notion when he said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”

Think about Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta who spent nine excruciating years in prison before he was freed in August 1961 to become the country’s independence leader in May 1963. No wonder, his son is Kenya’s president because, probably, the father paid the price even for the son in advance!

John Bunyan refused to forego days and nights in a cold prison from where he wrote the timeless classic “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

Martin Luther King lost his life in the quest for the freedom of blacks in America. 50-years down the road, the world is replaying his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Jesus of Nazareth gave up his life for the salvation of the world. We shouldn’t be surprised at all that more than 2,000 years down the road, the multitude of His followers grows daily.

Moses of Egypt had to spend 40 years in the desert before leading a great multitude of people out of Egyptian slavery and into Canaan’s abundance. All these people took responsibility for a better world and sacrificed a lot to achieve it.
In all this, I indeed realise that there is no shortcut to leaving a great legacy apart from one’s sacrificial service for the good of all. Personal sacrifice for the common good is the ticket that earns one an entry into the hall of great leaders.

There is no legacy without some form of sacrifice . In this era of opportunistic leadership, the sacrificial leadership style of people like Mandela kicks many leaders below the belt! Viva, Mandela!