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Opinions of Sunday, 8 December 2013

Columnist: Dake, Selorm Kofi

Tribute to Nelson Mandela

NELSON MANDELA MUST NOT DIE, Selorm Kofi Dake writes from Accra, Ghana.

I was but a very young boy when Nelson Mandela was released from prison,
after 27 years, back in 1990. There was spontaneous jubilation and
celebration in Have, the village my father was then serving as a
Presbyterian pastor. It was a big deal! I exclaimed to myself, considering
the sheer explosion of joy and the magnitude of celebrations that engulfed
every street, every corner and almost every home that day. However, it was
almost after a decade that I truly got to understand and to appreciate what
a single strong-willed man had accomplished for an entire nation and its
ramifications for the lives of all the people of South Africa.

I therefore became a curious reader and over the years got to know Nelson
Mandela better and better. Indeed, after reading his address to the Supreme
Court of South Africa in Pretoria in 1964, I was so humbled by the sheer
determination of one man to ensure that South Africa does not continue to
be held hostage by the apartheid system of governance and more so when he
courageously affirmed he was prepared to pay ultimately with his life, if
necessary:

'I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black
domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in
which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It
is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is
an ideal for which I am prepared to die.', Nelson Mandela, 'Speech from the
Dock', April 20, 1964.

Needless to say, Nelson Mandela remains an iconic figure of inspiration to
many people, in many countries across the globe and could be aptly
described as the 'binding force' holding both the black and white sides of
the divide together harmoniously in present day South Africa. His presence
alone served as a unifying force behind the nation, a deterrent to
extremists of radical ideology and made almost everyone 'behave well'.

However, recent developments regarding the legacy of Nelson Mandela, even
as he turned 95 makes it imperative for some honest discussions to be done
by all those who are concerned about the future of South Africa, openly and
dispassionately. It is within this context that I share a few thoughts on
the future of South Africa, particularly as the legend moves on to greater
glory in the heavens today:

First, the ANC must realize that the ideals for which Nelson Mandela had
lived and fought his entire life for are all about improving the lives of
the greatest majority of South Africans. In other words, the political
liberation of black South Africans is meaningless unless it translates into
the socio-economic emancipation of same people, from whom the government
derives its legitimacy. Reading through Nelson Mandela's 'Speech in the
Dock' delivered in 1964 to the Supreme Court of South Africa made me feel
as though Mandela was to a very large extent writing about present day
South Africa, calling for social justice for South Africans who have been
left behind in education, skills training, employment and in participation
in the governance process of their country. The ANC must not die, but for
that to stand true over the many years to come, it must realize that
empowering the masses through quality education and giving them the
opportunity to make decent living through employment or enterprise creation
is at the core of its legitimacy and survival. The vast mineral resources
and the revenues from the economic boom in that country must directly be
channeled to better the lot of the people-in other words, the ANC must
deliver for the majority of the people, not enriching a few elitist groups
of leaders instead, period!

Further, the ANC must work towards the consolidation of unity within its
ranks since increasingly dissention and in-fighting have become major
features within the party. Nelson Mandela achieved his mission on the
platform of the ANC so it is a moral duty on the part of the current
leadership of the ANC to ensure that the same political vehicle-the
ANC-lives on as a tribute to Mandela.

Second, ALL South Africans must re-dedicate and re- commit themselves to
the promotion of national unity, tolerance and respect for one another as a
moral and national duty. The beauty of the RAINBOW NATION lies in the
harmony between its many colours of race and culture. That is what Nelson
Mandela stands for and will continue to represent in many years to come.
Efforts at FURTHER promoting race relations and understanding between the
different cultures will go a long way to cement the gains chalked by South
Africa as a nation so far. After all, development can only be accomplished
when peace truly prevails and the rule of law works for all.

Also, there must be a conscientious effort by the leadership of South
Africa to identify, empower and equip the next generation of leaders for
South Africa. All too often, leaders retire or pass on without grooming a
capable team of successors, therefore jeopardizing the very vision, ideals
and dreams they hold dear to heart. The development of transformational
leaders who are adequately prepared to carry on the mantle of leadership
from academia, to civil society, to business through to national partisan
politics in the verisimilitude of Nelson Mandela (and his peers such as
Walter Sisulu, Steve Biko, Govan Mbeki, Oilver Tambo, Ahmed Kathrada,
Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni) will
be a lasting legacy in honour of the nation's first Black President.

Indeed, when I say Nelson Mandela must not die, I am not referring to the
mortality of his physical body but rather the immortality of his love for
country, his compassion for humanity and his unending passion for social
justice as well as his VISION of a strong and united South Africa!

***Selorm Kofi Dake is a proud citizen of Ghana and a British Chevening
Scholar. He holds Masters in International Business and Entrepreneurship
from Essex Business School, UK and BSc Chemical Engineering from KNUST,
Ghana. He is the Co-founder of the Association of Young Entrepreneurs (AYE)
Ghana and Founder & President of Global Generation Africa. Email:
kofidake@gmail.com Cell: +233-26-8029503

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