As we mourn a genuine revolutionary Nelson Mandela let us reflect on the virtues of magnanimity, bigheartedness, tolerance, unselfishness and justice that he did not only believe in but practiced. As you may recall there is a time when Mandela and his vice were both going out of the country at the same time. What did he do!. He left behind his nemeses and arch rival Mongosuthu Buthelezi of the Inkatha Freedom party as Acting president.
Fancy a situation when Museveni would leave behind Kiiza Besigye as Acting President!. Mandela accepted to work with de Klerk the former president who represented a system that imprisoned and tormented him in prison for 27 years. Fancy a situation where Obote would serve as the vice president of Museveni in the NRM unity government!.
As we reflect on the Mandela departure let the politicians in Uganda learn how to tolerate each other for the sake of national integration and to create an atmosphere for evolving national consensus values.
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In your life time, you will never live in the same era with another Mandela.Nelson Mandela is incapable of duplication; in character or substance. Where he was expected to be bitter and vindictive in retribution, Mandela preached and practised harmony, tolerance and humility.While he had earned the right to be angry at his white tormentors, Madiba ate with them, and even defended them against radical, armed black warriors.
I was a UN Press Officer when Mandela came to the United Nations shortly after his release. As we lined up behind the Chief of Protocol to receive Mandela, tears were running in folks’ cheeks, tears of joy and gratitude.
I had been awed by one other World Leader before then; Mother Teresa in Nairobi in 1987, when she paid a courtesy call on the Mayor and I was assigned to cover the event.
Mother Teresa and Mandela carried with them an aura of utmost reverence and believability. You bow to them out of your own sense of respect, not because they expect you.
Mandela leaves us a legacy and a permanent reference point for every one who aspires to serve the public anywhere in the world. For his service and devotion to a just cause, not only for his fellow South Africans but for the world at large, mankind is forever indebted to him.
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