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Jun 27, 2013

Propagating the Mandelian trait


While the whole world has become one in wishing Nelson Mandela a speedy recovery, many know deep within that the time has finally come to let him have his final walk to freedom. Madiba, as he is lovingly called, is said to be under life support and is expected, sadly, to be declared dead anytime soon. Hope people won’t be foolish enough to label a death at 94 ‘an untimely death’!

As far as I remember, we had one chapter in our Grade 9 English book which carried a newspaper report “Mandela walks a free man”. It was stunning for us to read that a mortal can go to the lengths of being ready to get behind the bars for an astounding 27 years for the sake of his damn convictions! Then, we had not the slightest of idea about what values those convictions and principles held for the leaders like Mandela. Nonetheless, that chapter instilled in us a sense of respect to this legend. The same year perhaps, we had one short biography of him in our Nepali textbook. This used to be a recurring question in our exams, so we had no way but to mug it up. Hence grew our acquaintance with him a little further. And as a third and last event in the same year itself, I happened to read his autobiography ‘Long Walk to Freedom’. It was in fact recommended and given to me to read by my Social Studies teacher Narayan Sharma sir. I am not sure how much could I understand and grasp from that phenomenal book at that tender age, but what I am sure of is that it left the indelible mark in my heart. 

Of course, I had heard of him since my early childhood, but it was long before I could understand him in detail. For many years, I thought him merely as a valiant fighter against the racist Whites in South Africa. Merely, because I had seen many a freedom fighter back at home putting up a disappointingly dismal performance once ascended to power. During their struggle days against the despotic monarchs, our now-tainted leaders too were no less than Mandela. Their unflinching courage and determination were unquestionable. But no sooner did they assume the reins of power than their true colors revealed. In the same vein, I had revered Mandela for his personal sacrifice, but had little idea about how he fared as a ruler in post-apartheid South Africa. Now that I’ve got the idea, I can proudly say: Mandela is a hero for all the struggles he did to dismantle the racial segregation, but even more heroic is his courageous leadership that created the ‘rainbow nation’ during his stint as president. Though many leaders, here and elsewhere, seem like Mandela during struggles, they fail the crucial acid test as rulers. This is where the path starts to diverge from the real Mandela.

Mandela adopted a reconciliatory approach to his erstwhile perpetrators and formed the government in collaboration with them. His magnanimity averted the imminent civil war and rather created an environment where the blacks and whites could increasingly intermingle in the society with increased level of trust. That he chose not to seek vengeance but forgive the ones who kept him confined to the dark cells for three decades was the measure of his greatness. How he managed to address the crimes committed under apartheid through the formation of the 'Truth and reconciliation commission' is a lesson to be learned by post-conflict nations like Nepal. Add to that his unwillingness to run for a second term as president. He paved the path for the younger generation and showed this rare trait of a politician: unselfishness. He proved through his deeds, he was no power-hunger. Plus, even as an octogenarian, he didn’t afford to become a mute spectator to the ghastly social ills grappling the world. Through the Nelson Mandela Foundation, he was engaging himself in activism like in combating HIV/AIDS which is endemic in the African continent.


The current generation of African National Congress (ANC) leaders is facing the wrath of its people for all the mesh S. Africa is in today. Not only the ANC leaders, but leaders across the globe would do well to remember Mandela at this point and carry on his legacy by trying at least to emulate the Mandelian traits.

1 comments:

keshav bhatta said...

Salute to Nelson, the veteran leader who implanted the vision for ages.

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