Mandela’s freedom: 30 years on

Mandela’s freedom: 30 years on

We often think of what is and what was, what could be and what will be, where we were, are, and will be, when it will happen and how it will occur, but these are all promontory entities that form the core of our relative being on earth. Relative we are because all we do and its reaction are on average indeterminable, the best that we can do to turn the scale in favour of success is to use the main tool available to us: choice.

What we choose may determine what occurs after the execution of such a choice with regard to our wish, our goal, our target and all that is yearned for or whose occurrence is necessary to effect that which women and men dream of: change. Change is born of choice, and all that comes after one selects a certain method or course of action is to a large degree dependent upon what they choose to do to effect the desired change. When he made the three hour long speech on the 20th of April 1964, many did not think it would culminate in his being the first democratically elected president 30 years later in 1994. The words in the speech showed a man committed to a cause from which he could not be swayed. The now famous words:
During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. 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 people will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live and to see realised. But, My Lord, if needs to be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Change is not a random process guided by the voices of the masses, and it is neither a result of wisdom or prudence, it is more likened to being a fate one cannot choose, but that which comes upon one as rain does in the midst of spring. The point at which we have to choose how the future should be on an individual or communal basis arrives unannounced, and when that moment arrives, one should at least be ready in their mind to accept that which they cannot change, and to have the courage to act when they should, in a manner befitting all the virtues of mankind.
I watched the documentaries and film-biographies on the day Nelson and Winnie Mandela walked hand-in-hand after he was freed after 27 years in prison. One aspect stands out: the great become great because the choices fate throws their way force them to take decisions that at the end of the day are felt by all concerned and unconcerned. It is because of these figures that human society is extricated from the boggy marshes of regression.

It is on the 11th day of February, 1990 that the state of South Africa, the continent of Africa and the rest of the world witnessed the end of Mandela’s long walk to freedom and the beginning of a new era not only for the Southern African country but the rest of the continent as well. It was the end of an era and the beginning of another, and this day this year marks yet another milestone, three decades of freedom for South Africa. As much as the victory of the day was celebrated, the South Africa we see in the current times has veered from Mandela’s vision, that is if we measure the failures against the successes.

We fail as human society because of our patriarchal tendencies that do not acknowledge the full expanse of the contribution of women and other vulnerable groups in our societies. Mandela and company languished for long years on Robben Island, Winnie and her sisters in arms took the rabid hound of apartheid by the tail, plucked its teeth out, and rendered it an impotent mutt. That they ended up divorcing is spoken of in hushed tones, but I tend to think that it was one of the first signs that something was not all bliss from the onset with the newly-found freedom.
But who am I to judge, for I also hold the firm belief that judgement should not be the task of those that are not ‘learned’. By simply venturing out into the territory of those exalted ones with wigs and gavels, the unlearned are not only stepping out of their set groove in society, but are also endangering the lives of the rest of society with their uneducated speculations which may sow seeds of discord and chaos.

As events unfold in society, there are bound to be critics and speculators who have opinions on the unfolding events; but the clear understanding should be that opinions are not facts, in fact, opinions are not even ideas unless they can be backed by strong evidence and logical argument: opinions are in reality the shouting of a lost or searching man in the middle of the storm, and the owner thereof often does not have the vaguest idea of what it is they are talking about.

They can be compared to the babbling of a new-born infant, who in their garble cannot be understood until such a time that they have mastered the art of imitating the speech of those that are considered competent enough in speech to communicate. The unlearned ‘gurus of social media’ often sound uncouth in their declarations that have droves of gullible followers showering them with ‘likes’ and ‘shares’; at the detriment of the nation as an entity that should respect the rights of all.

We the unlearned do not know how to disseminate information safely enough not to endanger the basic security of the land, therefore, we the unlearned should learn to keep quiet when it is not our place to disperse or to distribute sensitive information. But we should honour those who did their part to assuage the anguish of our daily struggle living on the continent of Africa.
The butterfly flutters her wings, and around her wings are currents of air flowing in imperceptible gusts that can be ‘ignored’ by those who think their miniscule nature renders them ‘insignificant’. The truth of the matter is that nothing in the universe is so minute that it does not in any given manner contribute to the orbiting of the bodies within the various galaxies in the universe.
It has been said (in the Chaos Theory) that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can cause a typhoon (a close cousin to the hurricane and the tsunami) on the other side of the world.

The balance of the equilibrium in this universe we inhabit is dependent upon many factors, but the most primary amongst them is the effect and the contribution those ‘insignificant’ elements existent in the universe have on the general system of the order of the universe.
The autocratic tendencies of the speculators and the decision-makers are dependent upon the fallacious premise that only those in positions of power have the clout when it comes to establishing the balance of equilibrium. It is a tendency Mandela fought against until he won not only his freedom but also the freedoms of others.

Often forgotten is the fact that the position of the wise leader is begot on the decisions of the others, on the sweat and the blood and the toil of others often declared to be in ‘lesser’ positions as defined by those in the position of power. That one becomes a magnate is dependent on the labour those he ‘employs’ put in for meagre salaries. Their huge contribution in terms of labour or presence is intentionally and erroneously miscalculated and dismissed as just ‘labour’, and this leads to uprising as time progresses. One cannot just labour, vote, or, decide to support anyone only to have their effort snubbed or declared substandard. The reward equals the effort in mutual human terms, and if seen otherwise, that is, if the reward does not equal the effort; then it is not worth one’s time to put in the effort. Mandela and company that includes Steve Biko fought this mentality to this point in time where only vestiges of it remain. In their eyes and in the words of his 1964 speech, none was higher than others, there was no one more equal than others when it comes to true democracy as lived by them.

Truly honourable figures like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Ghandi taught us that there would be pigs we should not get into mud-fights with: for they are in every essence Nazi sociopaths infected with the most rabid form of megalomania. We as Africans should not protest against the American decision to vote Blondie into power; we should fight tooth and nail the evil of being subjected to pre-colonial subhuman status by figures gripped by chronic amnesia.

The real fact of the matter is that Africa was once majestic before it was plundered and underdeveloped, before it was looted to the current state of beggarhood, the misfortune of which sees African leaders believing more in implementing irrelevant western policies than they do their own. We should get rid of the remote control mentalities which render the wealth of our own wisdom impotent when it can save us from servitude as Patrice Lumumba, Herbert Chitepo, Steve Biko, Thomas Sankara, and Chris Hani taught before their unfortunate ends at the hands of greedy myopic fools. Though they had to resort to uprising and protest sometimes, their methods were not as reckless as the ones we witness these days.

Burning and breaking the infrastructure of one’s land is not protest, it is sheer criminality, self-destruction, and regress. True protest means that the majority of the population stands the dual benefit of gaining basic needs and wants, and being united in the vision of a progressive future. Those whose acts of protest widen the gaps of division between the citizens of their country and the world are not protesting: they are serving the interests of the minority whose main goal is to gain more than the majority so that they can use what they gain as the means to control the balance of power.

The vision of such true revolutionaries as Alberto ‘Che’ Guevara de la Serna and Steve Biko was not to have a society where one side rules the other and gains more from the available resources than the other; their vision was of a society where all are equal in terms of rights and gains from the means available from the land. Teaching children or groups of individuals to resort to violence in ‘protest’ is miseducation, and teaching them to do it on a regular basis will surely lead to anarchy. Learn not to be violent in your protest and your words shall be heard, like a butterfly’s wings stirring the currents of air as it floats beautifully across the sky.

Forgiveness never went wrong, and when the air is reeking of the electric sparks of vindictiveness, one and one and one and the rest should be scared; for evil begets evil, and revenge begets vengeance: and the cycle goes on and on in an unending continuum. Listen to the voices of the heard, and what is easy to pick up is the verbosity of hypocrites that pretend to be saying something different when they are in every essence repeating the same chants of war we have heard since Africa begot her independence. Of the way forward, one hears nothing, of, “I want to convict the next candidate our history proves as guilty…” one hears varied chorals of vindictive experts on everything.

The reality is that no one is infallible; the reality is that there is no Messiah out here in these boondocks, and there is none that reserves the right to wear the cloak of righteousness.
Mandela was not playing the part of a fool when he sought a way to forgive despite or in spite of what might have been done in the past: the reality of life is that the past can never be undone. Judges who judge must look to Rwanda if they seek to understand what moving forward really means.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) defines human order from the point of view of the state:
…As the State was formed to make life possible, so it exists to make life good. Consequently if it be allowed that the simple associations, i.e. the household and the village, have a natural existence, so has the State in all cases; for in the State they attain complete development, as the nature of anything, e.g., of a man, a house or a horse, may be defined to be its condition when the process of production is complete. Unlike the wannabe revolutionaries of the present times, Mandela tried his level best not to disturb the order of the state. To the end he was a man for all seasons, a man we shall constantly revere for his humility.

By: Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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