By Asiimwe Stephen
“For to be free is not merely to cast one’s chains” – Madiba.
Nelson Mandela is no more, you have read gushing tributes, noble quotations, and effusive obituary, let me add, and that we don’t mourn but celebrate a life well lived.
Great undoubtedly was, for one man to have demonstrated the resolve, patience, dignity, forgiveness and unselfishness he did is most unusual, his death seals another curtain of freedom hero’s of his time, Mandela died at 95 the same age that Muhammed Ben Bella died at in 2011; another Africa’s gallant fighters who launched a liberation war against the French tormentors to free Algeria.
The others are Kwame Nkurumah of Ghana, believed to be the father of Pan Africanism on the Continent, Julius Kambarage Nyerere who coordinated the front line states against Apartheid and Colonialism, Jomo Kenyatta, Patrice Lumumba, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Tefaya Balewa both Nigerians.
His focus and resolve was stoic and unbendable, I consider this to be highest form of sacrifice for freedom, patriotic and the dignity of humanity and especially it is compromised with external assault, to learn more freedom for humanity and address inequality among races, social classes, and nations, nothing short of personal sacrifice can lead to a break through.
As we celebrate the passing of Madiba, our symbol of vision, it is in this generation to understand the distance is still long to achieve the aspirations of African people that our fore father struggled to bring forward.
Our generations most especially the youth must be able to read the Mandela’s book, for example, “Long walk to Freedom” and other freedom heroes who have shaped and changed the thinking of the rest of the world towards Africans.
In 1943, Mandela energised the struggle by establishing the ANC youth league and this was the most important legacy that a wakened and accelerated the spirit of Africans.
Mandela who died last Thursday like his colleagues, Bantu Steve Biko, Jovani Mbeki, Sisulu and Oliver Tembo were patient with slow progress in advancing the struggle against apartheid under the ANC, for almost 40 years, ANC was a gentleman’s club that did not endorse violence, but when ANC agreed to give young people space in the party hierarchy by establishing the youth league in 1943, it planted the seeds of reality, pushed its ideas across South Africa, Africa and the whole world.
In Uganda, we embraced Mukhoto We Sizwe; spear of the nation, trained and gave moral support, with leadership of NRM; they were also ready to pay any price in accommodating ANC.
It is not surprising that sympathisers of apartheid regime had listed Mandela among top terrorists in the world as they say everything is now history but what we are sure of is that we shall continue to note it, that even Margret Thatcher (RIP) and her British Government and the so called defenders of peace and democracy, Americans participated fully in incarcerating the South African and Africans as a whole.
No wonder the first condolence messages came from them.
Madiba, the symbol of hope is gone but you will remain in annals of history as one of our finest in the 20th and 21st centuries, you will safely join Maummar Gadaffi; the recent victim of imperialism led by Sarkoz of France, NATO and their relatives, we shall forever celebrate your well deserved life, we commit our energy and determination to continue the struggle of making Africa free of collaborators, you fought a great cause and devoted your life to it, never silenced your critics, you have left a big challenge to our generation and particularly the young comrades of ANC.
As Madiba said “We must use time creatively, and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do the right” Hamba gahle (Go well) Nelson Mandela hamba gahle.
The writer is a Pan Africanist and Member of Vision East African Forum