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09 Dec Written by  Japheth Omojuwa

What Would Mandela Do?

Nelson Mandela is dead, and now the world finally gets a chance to experience the greatness that comes with the spirit and person of the man. I think that until the death of a great man or woman, his/her greatness is diminished by the size and limits of his/her physical space. As long as we continue to see greatness embodied, we’d continue to see its limitations. Once death takes the body, the true greatness finally gets unleashed and in certain cases it takes on a mythical strength.

In Nelson Mandela’s case, his greatness in death has been expressed by men, women, children and people from all races. For once the world was united in celebrating a man who seemed to be a mirror that helped to show each of us how we could be better. He was certainly not a perfect man, and most people will not get a chance to come out of prison alive and sane after 27 years, but Mandela not only did, but it appeared that prison helped him become the Mandela that gained the world’s admiration.

He is the answer to the question: Can anything good thing come out of Africa? Yes, Madiba is of Africa and what a man he was. As Africans, we could easily transform this beautiful continent by just looking at Nelson Mandela and his values and using the same as the standard for ourselves. What if we all adopted a “What Would Mandela Do?” approach to everything? This would be especially necessary for those who are privileged to be leaders amongst us. We cannot continue to do things as we please without style, character or direction. We have a choice as a people to use Mandela as that example of how to lead and how to practice the politics of fairness and sportsmanship. If we all, like the great man, accepted that in the end leadership is about service and service is about the people, we’d make better choices.

Nelson Mandela has come and gone. His memory and greatness will be here for as long as we have the earth. It would not be enough to share his best quotations and wax lyrical about how great he was. That is good but that would not be good enough one month, one year, one decade and many score years from now. We need to learn from Mandela’s examples and choices. We need to imbibe his strength and learn even from his own mistakes.

None of us will ever be a Mandela, but the world Mandela left behind, both on the continent and in South Africa, is a world that remains troubled by problems that would be dispensed with if men and women cared enough about others. Mandela left a world that cries for true and genuine leadership. There is so much to do and so much space to fill as Africa cries out for exemplary leadership. This is what we must live by as we remember Mandela: What Would Mandela Do? Then make the best decision you can based on your own unique circumstances.

RIP Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013

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