Two weeks ago, the Nelson Mandela Foundation issued a statement asking for the great man to be left alone to enjoy his retirement in peace. The plea comes six years after Mr. Mandela’s initial announcement of his intention to retire from public life. According to a Foundation official, there are over 4000 monthly requests for Mr. Mandela’s time, which includes requests for autographs and personal interviews. These requests are in spite of an earlier press release informing the world that Mr. Mandela “no longer grants interviews, nor does he respond to formal questions from the media, researchers or members of the public.”
So what is so special about this nonagenarian that endears him to us? Personally, I think the answer lies in his deeds. According to former US President, Bill Clinton, Mr. Mandela “taught us the freedom of forgiveness and showed us the power of humility.” Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, describes him as the “epitome of grace and dignity, a man with determination to overcome even the greatest odds.” Barack Obama recently applauded the “extraordinary vision, leadership and spirit” of this exemplary man. David Cameron describes him as “one of the greatest men alive.”
Like those mentioned above, I also have a lot of respect and admiration for Mr. Mandela. This great man selflessly and relentlessly fought for freedom, equality, and quite remarkably, peace. When he later became the President of South Africa, he did not embark upon a lifetime occupancy of that office in payback for his 27 years of incarceration. Admirably, he stepped aside after just one term of office – something of a rarity among African leaders.
For all my admiration for former UK Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher, my major misgiving about her administration was her support for the South African apartheid regime and her branding of Mr. Mandela and the ANC as ‘terrorists’. One wonders whether, since leaving office 22 years ago, Baroness Thatcher has ever entertained an iota of regret over her pretty disgraceful policy on apartheid? Although I have no intention of speaking ill of the dead, former US President, Late Ronald Regan, also shamefully demonstrated support for the apartheid regime. Surely, history will judge the apartheid regime and its allies according to their deeds, while our omnipotent creator will definitely judge them according to both their deeds and true intentions.
Parking Ronnie and Maggie to one side, Mr. Mandela is undoubtedly a boon to the African continent and humanity at large. And as we try to heed the call to let him be, we reluctantly accept that the sun has finally set on the distinguished public career of a true world statesman. Given that I was not born when this icon was sent to jail in 1962, I am truly humbled to have witnessed the last leg of his heroic crusade for freedom and peace. I thank Mr. Mandela immensely for helping to make the world a better place and keeping hope alive in the process. I certainly wish him a well-deserved, peaceful and enjoyable retirement. Hopefully, health permitting, he will now find the time to engage in some of his favourite pastimes.
Considering his experience in the area of human conflicts arising from social and economic inequality, I would like Mr. Mandela to continue to speak out, at least on some key global issues. What do you think? Please take my poll below.