8 December 2013

South Africa: Take a Leaf Out of Mandela's Book

Photo: New Zimbabwe
Former South African president Nelson Mandela and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.


A wave of grief that has never been seen before has swept across the globe following the death of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

The United Nations, leaders of various countries, organisations, and people of different nationalities, are all paying their tributes to the former South Africa President.

There is no doubt that Mandela, who suffered so much under apartheid, showed the world what good leadership is all about.

After enduring 27 years behind bars for opposing white rule, he did not use his position to go after those who had persecuted him when he become the first black democratically elected president.

Instead, he embraced his erstwhile enemies, preached love and forgiveness, thereby allowing a rainbow nation to emerge out of the darkness of apartheid.

Four years later, Mandela showed the world that it was possible for leaders to gracefully leave office while the constitution allowed them to remain in power.

To Mandela, leadership was like a relay, one passed on the baton even when he or she still had the energy to finish the race.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner shunned power and its trappings, a selfless act which made it possible for a smooth transition to take place without the country descending into political uncertainty.

Mandela will also be remembered for his compassion, honour and humility, qualities that are severely lacking in African leaders today who have signed up to dictatorship and kleptocracy.

Unlike Madiba, who was revered and held as a statesman while he was residing at Qunu, his ancestral village, they don't seem to realise there is life after leaving power, hence the dogged determination to die in office.

Africa's longest serving ruler is Paul Biya of Cameroon who has been in power for an astonishing 38 years. He is followed by Mohammed Addelaziz of Saharawi Republic 37, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea 34, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola 34 and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe 33.

Clearly, none of these leaders have learnt a lesson from Mandela who set an example that should be followed if the world is to be a better place.

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