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Remembering Nelson Mandela

By Moses Kirori

It was the film Sarafina that sparked my interest in Nelson Mandela. Sure I‘d heard my middle school history teacher mention his name several times in class, but my short attention span at the time often found its way out of the classroom way before I could learn anything about him. Sarafina portrays students’ rioting as they protest apartheid rule in South Africa and also features a collection of inspiring songs that called for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

I began to take interest in a man that I could not fully understand. Mandela had been imprisoned for 27 years, a time during which his son had died and been buried.  Yet, he walked out of prison head held high and ascended to the reins of power where he would shake the hands of his jailers and dine with those that many deemed his enemy. Mandela’s actions as president provided a sharp contrast to what I knew about my own country’s (Kenya) history.

On December 12th 2013, Kenya will mark fifty years of independence from Britain. History had taught me that my forefathers fought hard to liberate my nation from colonialists and when they were finally successful, the Britons had to go. Life’s circumstances had also conditioned me to believe that if someone inflicts pain on you and somehow the tables turn, you gladly return the favor. But Madiba, as his people fondly referred to him, did neither of the above.

Mandela’s life has inspired me to always seek a peaceful resolution through my own personal struggles. His long stay in prison has provided me with a basis of proof that by taking time and reflecting on my actions, I can make better decision and life choices.

Sure there are some who have criticized Mandela’s way of life and his style of leadership with the current president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe top on that list. Several media reports have actually quoted Mugabe saying that Mandela is a coward who sat in prison doing nothing while he (Mugabe) fought colonialism. Mugabe’s actual quote from the news report is too vulgar to print, but this comes from a man who has ruled his country with an iron fist for over 25 years and refuses to retire from the presidency despite his country’s failing economy.

Mandela taught the world and Africa in particular how to retire gracefully as a political leader. Mugabe should probably borrow a page from Mandela’s book, but I highly doubt the former would be willing to learn anything the latter has to teach. African leaders in general have cultivated a tendency to love and to hold on to power till death do them part. Mandela’s short but sweet stint as president should serve as an example to all African leaders that it shouldn't take forever to fulfill your promises and deliver to your people.

To quote the great words of writer Charles Bukowski, when something bad happens, we raise a glass and drink to forget.  If something good happens, we raise a glass and drink to celebrate.  If nothing happens, we still we raise a glass to make something happen.  So I raise my glass and mourn Nelson Mandela, I raise it again to celebrate his legacy, and one more time I raise it hoping that something will happen in Zimbabwe.

Moses Kirori is the Coordinator of Television Programming in Public Affairs at MCC.  He is a 2011 graduate of the college.

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Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 9:56 AM by MCC Blog Admin

Comments

Natalie Frissore said:

Well written, Moses! The world mourns the loss of this charismatic leader.

# December 10, 2013 10:33 AM

Rachel Campbell said:

Great piece Moses! I too raise my glass for the Mighty Lion, Nelson Mandela.

# December 10, 2013 10:39 AM

Emerald Lundy said:

Moses,

This piece was extremely heartfelt, genuine and eloquently written. Mandela's ideals and presence resonate beyond his country and it is my hope that many obtain to have this frame of mind that you mention was motivated by Mandela "always seek a peaceful resolution through my own personal struggles". He and few other world leaders have been significant in the peaceful fight for World Peace. I hope that people do not forget this, and that they become motivated to keep his legacy going. Thank you for sharing this.

Emerald

# December 10, 2013 10:42 AM

Dennis Malvers said:

Well done Moses.  Thanks for providing a very thoughtful and well-written perspective.

# December 10, 2013 11:16 AM

Pat Crane said:

Moses,

Well done! An excellent analysis of two leaders with affirmation on the proven value of thoughful reflection when responsible for effective decision making!!  

Congratulations on your professional decision to share your talents and commitment to MCC!! They are very lucky to have you!!

Perhaps when we come north for the summer, you and Mary Jo and I can get together for lunch at Blue Taleh!

Best always,

Pat Crane

# December 10, 2013 11:52 AM

Carina Self said:

Moses, Thanks for sharing your perspective on Mandela and on African political leadership.  May we keep his mission in our minds and our work each day.  ~Carina

# December 10, 2013 2:40 PM

Ruth Clark said:

We wish the good things that Nelson Mandela worked for in Zimbabwe, Moses! Thank you for sharing your experience!

# December 10, 2013 2:58 PM

Darcy Orellana said:

Great leadership inspires and includes many voices. Moses, thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiring us!

# December 10, 2013 6:11 PM

Jonathan Crockett said:

Moses, thank you so much for this thoughtful, personal, informative narrative.  This is incredibly well-written and meaningful, offering both a tribute to Mandela, and also a glimpse of how this great leader impacted you as an individual.  Thank you for sharing this!

# December 11, 2013 6:48 AM

kirorim said:

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and appreciation for this piece. I'm especially touched to hear from all of you and I really appreciate your kind words.

- Moses

# December 11, 2013 3:19 PM
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