Nelson Mandela, a quintessential par excellence turned 94 years on July 18th 2012. Mandela’s global stature is, in fact, complicating the debate on the equally complicated issue of the role of the individual in history. For the socialists in particular which is where Mandela belongs, to the extent of his membership of a guerilla army committed to a national democratic revolution, the individual does not make history on the basis of personal determination. The will to power is an aggravated nonsense. The historical achievement of the individual is not his own making but the outcome of a combination of objective and subjective conditions.
In otherwords, if you want to find out the mystery behind the great names in history, don’t look for it in their brilliance, their genius or determination, important as these may be, they don’t explain them. Napoleon couldn’t have given the world republicanism or Lenin socialist democracy if certain conditions were not there. Stalin would not have emerged if he didn’t fulfill one essential condition over and above other contenders. After all, Lenin himself said of Stalin during the debate on his successor that the cook they had served pepperish soup, yet he was the best.
The socialist perspective remain unimpeachable but even then, we must recognize that Mandela’s greatness is almost on auto-pilot, almost an independent variable in itself. Mandela is almost a global industry, from conflict management to peace making, tolerance, reconciliation, race, relations, authenticity and Africanity. Remind me of what I might have missed out. But it is still his social context that made him and the three powerful messages he sent to humanity and in which his greatness resides.
The first of the messages was that he remained a party man through and through. His greatest contribution was loyalty to the principles of his movement, (the ANC) and the humanity of its cause, to borrow a truncated phrase from Thabo Mbeki’s tribute to another veteran. It was not just for being jailed for so long that made Mandela great. It was this point about the organizational commitment and discipline, particularly that his sense of sacrifice went beyond serving a long jail term without selling out. It also includes the tearing away of Winnie from him arising from fear within ANC that Mandela wouldn’t leave office if the marriage leave office if the marriage stayed given the history of the fail of several communists parties to the spouses mistresses of leaders. This is a speculation but a reasonable analysis. However, if it is true, it goes to show how he had contributed to party building a major deficiency in African politics. We need to expatiate on this.
Meanwhile the South African Military and its Generals who knew by around 1977 that Apartheid could not last longer and were very prepared by 1990 for a post Apartheid political order had made sure that people like Kaunda and Samora Machel were no longer around by the time Mandela stood any chance to come up. So, what Mandela’s contribution to the party culture in Africa through ANC as mentioned above is an entry point in appreciating him. The second of the messages was this: in spite of the external and internal pressures on the ANC, they managed to handle a negotiated settlement and a subsequent transition into a multi-racial democracy. There were other options but it is an academic matter now if such alternative options would have been better than the road taken, a process in which Mandela was a factor, even from prison. In the end, he came off as one worthy of the accolade, “blessed are the peace makers,” to seal another phrase from Thabo Mbeki in a speech somewhere else.
He thus remains the epitome of the aphorism: first in peace, first in war. When the African National Congress, (ANC) had no choice but to embark on a guerilla war against the Apartheid regime, Mandela threw himself in. but it is important to note that even though he was a frontline cadre of the struggle against Apartheid, he didn’t enter the war in a voyage of voluntarism. He entered as a cadre in the deference to a collective, organizational decision. This point cannot be over-stretched in view of the party attitudes of some intemperate fellows in Nigeria today who are also hoping to make history. Butt voluntarists cannot make ‘good’ history.
In otherwords, his refusal to pursue a positive expedition against the racists after taking over power in post Apartheid South Africa is such an enduring humanism. Very few others would have resisted the temptation to deal with them. So, again, he was first in peace. Professor Ali Mazrui is right to say that forgiveness is African, that the African has a very short hate retention memory. Whether this has served Africa well is another matter. It is unlikely that an agenda of avenging the past would have served a constructive purpose. The third and last message was quitting when the ovation was loudest, refusing to entangle the ANC in any of the personality cult problems that develops in circumstances of lowering men presiding over a towering country under a party full of battle tested and politically advanced cadres.
Almost everybody wanted him to stay and his stature within and outside the ANC was still tremendous. Even if it was this case that the ANC was ideologically too sophisticated for even a Mandela to stay on had he wanted, a determined Mandela could have had his way, given the experience of power struggles in equally well established parties in both liberal and socialist democracies. There should, therefore, be no denying him of his major contribution to democratization in Africa.
So, one by one, Mandela was achieved what some of his other African compatriots had been unable to or allowed to bedevil most of the earlier democratic transitions in Africa – the emergency of a leader who insists on punishing one group or another and who had no succession plan. He was bound to be seen as a different specie of leadership in Africa.
Jan 18, 2016 0
May 10, 2015 0
Nov 11, 2017 0The world Black and Arts festival that was hosted in...
May 27, 2015 0Lagos State House of Assembly has invited Josephine Agwu...
Nov 17, 2017 0Tiwa savage is a natural singer with sense of passion to show case the dynamic qualities she possessed, which has earned her accolade and support from numerous fans across Africa and United Kingdom....