Continent needs leaders like him, say Africans
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
BURNING BRIGHT: People release lit paper lanterns outside Madiba, a bar named in honour of Nelson Mandela in the Brooklyn borough of New York.