Con­ti­nent needs lead­ers like him, say Africans

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 -

se­ries of eu­lo­gies from the con­ti­nent’s lead­ers.

Kenya’s Pres­i­dent Uhuru Kenyatta sin­gled out Man­dela’s “power of for­give­ness”, while Nige­ria’s leader Good­luck Jonathan called him “a source of in­spi­ra­tion to op­pressed peo­ples all over the world”.

At AU head­quar­ters in Ad­dis Ababa, flags of all the na­tions in the 54-mem­ber bloc were low­ered to half mast as it hon­oured a “pan-African icon”.

Across the con­ti­nent, many took to news­pa­pers and so­cial me­dia to make com­ments com­par­ing Man­dela to those now lead­ing African na­tions.

“Man­dela was the only African leader who showed by words and deeds that he truly loved his coun­try, he re­fused to be drawn into toxic raw trib­al­ism that has crip­pled the con­ti­nent,” wrote Kwessi Pratt in Nairobi’s Stan­dard news­pa­per.

“The only African leader who will get ac­co­lades af­ter his death, the rest will just die and be for­got­ten,” wrote another in an anony­mous com­ment.

In Nige­ria, The Punch news­pa­per site echoed sim­i­lar mes­sages.

“We need a leader like Man- dela in Nige­ria, all we have had so far… are rulers who serve their own in­ter­ests, not lead­ers who work for the good of the masses,” one mes­sage read.

“We’ve lost an African fa­ther, the great­est leader we had in Africa,” said Rosebel Wan­jiru, 25, a graphic de­signer in Nairobi.

“Peo­ple are wish­ing the Kenyan leader will em­u­late the leader Man­dela was, in the way he was deal­ing with peo­ple, de­vel­op­ing his na­tion, han­dling pol­i­tics.”

In Sene­gal’s cap­i­tal, Dakar, stu­dent Oussey­nou Gu­eye re­gret­ted Man­dela’s loss, grum­bling that “most lead­ers do not have the same val­ues as Man­dela, do­ing many things that are not for the ben­e­fit of Africa, cul­ti­vat­ing cor­rup­tion”.

For­mer law­maker Pa­trice Ka­dia in the Repub­lic of Congo praised Man­dela’s “val­ues of tol­er­ance, shar­ing and re­spect”, adding that the “best way to hon­our him and re­mem­ber him is to do ev­ery­thing like him”.

In Uganda, Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni spoke of Man­dela’s and his col­leagues’ sacri- fices in the “strug­gle for the free­dom of South Africa and its peo­ple”, not­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­tinue that work was now passed on.

“It is us now – and those who are younger than us – to con­sol­i­date the work of those el­ders and en­sure that Africa is im­mu­nised against fu­ture marginal­i­sa­tion and re- coloni­sa­tion,” he said.

On Twit­ter how­ever, Ugan­dans pointed out that Mu­sev­eni’s 27 years in power are as long as Man­dela spent in jail.

In mar­kets in the Ugan­dan cap­i­tal, traders were do­ing a brisk trade in Man­dela T-shirts and bracelets.

“This is a per­son known to all of us, he is loved, so buy­ing a sou­venir is not a bad idea, it is good,” said Su­san Nakimera, a street trader in Kam­pala.

Some na­tions de­clared three days of mourn­ing in hon­our of Man­dela, but daily life in gen­eral con­tin­ued as nor­mal, al­though the shock of his death was clear to see for some.

At a cross­roads in the Cameroo­nian cap­i­tal, Yaounde, Therese Noumbissi mourned the loss of Man­dela as she grilled maize at her sim­ple stall.

“When I learnt of his death, I said ‘glory to God’, be­cause he had suf­fered a lot,” said Noumbissi.

“I praise him for his work here on Earth, and his death is in­deed the rest he de­serves,” the 50-year old said.

Sylvio Toguem, a young Cameroo­nian, de­scribed Man­dela as a “prophet”.

“For young peo­ple like us, he showed us the path for­ward,” he added.

But oth­ers were gloomier, fear­ing that with his pass­ing a leader of his stature would not be seen again in their life­time.

“It will take a cen­tury to have another Man­dela,” said Es­sola Remy, a banker in Yaounde. – Sapa-AFP

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

BURN­ING BRIGHT: Peo­ple re­lease lit pa­per lanterns out­side Madiba, a bar named in hon­our of Nel­son Man­dela in the Brook­lyn bor­ough of New York.

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