NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA was born on the 18th of July, 1918, so in a couple of weeks, ‘Madiba’, fondly referred to as the father of the South African nation will be ninety-five years old. Like most people in his age bracket, his health has not been in the best of state. His condition however deteriorated recently which has seen him, in and out of the hospital to the extent that he has now been confined to intensive care at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, for the past few weeks. As to be expected, news peddlers all over the world are trying to take advantage of the situation, churning out all sorts of news, most of which are not very pleasant and as such may have become disturbing to his family, who are obviously dealing with so much pain over the state of the legend himself who also happens to be a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc.
My people always say that the bigger one’s head is, the more the headaches, so I am not really surprised, the world is literarily standing still for one of the greatest Africans living today and probably Africa’s most illustrious son. I agree that there is no way I can feel the exact pains of the family because I am not family, but I am an African who loves and admires this man who did not just say- “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”, but has also lived these words. In my opinion, it’s time to take a cue from one of ‘Madiba’s books; ‘My long Walk to Freedom’ which says: “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
I see today as ‘Thanksgiving Day’, with the world collectively acknowledging that my hero has fulfilled his destiny. ‘Thanksgiving Day’, by definition is a day set apart for giving thanks; however, those who are able to rejoice the most on ‘Thanksgiving Day’ are those who, in spite of all the odds are able to reap bountifully. Success usually does not come on a platter of gold; it’s only the fittest that survives in today’s world. Nonetheless, ‘Madiba’, in another quote of his, emphasizing the fact that success is possible for all, said that “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.
A lot of African Leaders have lived and died but none, and I stand to be corrected, has ever received this kind of global attention, accolades and empathy that this great African commands.
I am not sure that ‘Madiba’ himself bargained for this kind of overwhelming recognition for the contributions he has made to the freedom of his people, he said, and I believe; “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”
I, like most people in the world, send my prayers and heartfelt best wishes to ‘Madiba’, his immediate family, friends, government, and the entire people of South Africa at this sober time and want them to really see that it’s time for Thanksgiving!