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