On 05th of December 2013, the world heard with sadness news that South Africa, and Africa as a whole, lost its greatest son, President Nelson Mandela.
President Mandela will always be a giant icon for peace, unity and reconciliation. He helped drag South Africa from the shackles of racist apartheid and pushed it onto a path of peace and reconciliation.
Despite decades in captivity and persistent persecution he endured at the hands of white minority rule, Mandela’s spirit and determination never wavered.
He saw the South Africa he was born in as an oppressed nation, occupied by and a racist minority apartheid regime that lacked neither moral nor political legitimacy.
The liberation of the black oppressed people of South Africa therefore became his one and lasting abiding dream, which he was determined to help achieve in his life time.
For his commitment to the cause of the liberation of his people, he was considered a terrorist, hunted down like a dangerous animal, tortured and harassed and then eventually incarcerated in the notorious Robben Island prison to serve a life sentence.
He served this life sentence with equal determination, refusing to allow his spirit to be broken, and through his suffering and sacrifice, inspired millions of South Africans, black and white, to rise up and claim a different political path for the country, that of national reconciliation and through which a peaceful transfer of power through democratic means became possible.
We were fortunate to witness, on 11th February 1990, Mandela’s eventual release from prison, having served more than 27 years in often brutal conditions.
This was because of the inexorable march for freedom that his spirit and suffering galvanised in the South African national democratic movement, whose just demands for his release from captivity and for an end to apartheid and state terrorism could no longer be denied.
On 10th May 1994, Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first black President of the Republic of South Africa, freely elected by a majority of the South African people.
We all watched in awe, his famous declaration before a global audience that “Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one another”.
President Mandela will also be remembered for showing immense grace, fortitude and magnanimity in establishing a government of national reconciliation.
He led by example, showing a people riven by hatred and animosity, a consequence of having been forced to live in a climate of hatred, mistrust and mutual suspicion in an environment in which state terrorism was the norm, that it was still possible to rediscover their common humanity.
President Mandela will be remembered for many achievements but his enduring legacy will always be his drive and unflinching will and determination to see come to fruition a free and peaceful multi-racial South Africa. It is no exaggeration to say that he is the global icon of the current and past Centuries.
He leaves behind him a platform or foundation on which his heirs can build a new democratic, humane, prosperous and compassionate South Africa. And he passes on to us, African nationalists, a rich template on which we can build a new Africa, a template, which if followed, will help us rectify many of the errors of our post-colonial leaders and enable us react more courageously to the multitude of challenges we face in today’s world.
Mandela’s death rekindles in us, the younger generation, the determination and zeal required to pick up the baton from where he has left it, to re-dedicate ourselves to the challenges of poverty, under-development and mis-rule that many African nations are going through to a greater or lesser extent and to open a new chapter in the struggle for the total liberation of Africa.
The Rwanda People’s Party (RPP), joins hands together in solidarity with the whole of Africa in mourning the loss of a great leader. We re-dedicate ourselves to the hopes and dreams that Mandela epitomises and dance to the drum-beats of freedom and national liberation that echo and resonate melodiously and relentlessly in our hearts.
Long may last the torch of freedom that Nelson Mandela lit. We also extend our deep sorrow and condolences to President Nelson Mandela’s family at this difficult time, especially to his widow Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Mandela and also to all his comrades and colleagues and to the brotherly people of South Africa.
May his soul Rest in Peace.
John V Karuranga,
President Rwanda People’s Party
Facebook: Rwanda Peoples Party