July 18 every year, which the United Nations set aside as Mandela Day, is an opportunity to not just think of the anti-apartheid icon and his legacy for a prosperous world.
We should also remember Nelson Mandela as a human being who passionately advocated peace, inclusivity and stability, further deepening understanding between different peoples.
Mandela, considered one of the most significant figures of the 20th and 21st centuries, was born in 1918. He died in 2013.
This year, the day was marked with pride and a deep sense of direction and hope for a better Africa. Unfortunately, in many countries across the continent, we have terribly failed Mandela.
As we remember and celebrate Mandela, his long walk to freedom offers hope to Africa overcoming myriads of challenges its population faces.
Confronted by the challenges of apartheid, physical imprisonment and doubt, Mandela nonetheless wielded his inimitable spirit to improve the lives of millions of his compatriots as an activist, scholar, leader and, ultimately, one of the world’s greatest-ever champions of humanitarianism.
Unlike most of us who continue to sow seeds of hate and division, from his years as a revolutionary and being imprisoned on Robben Island to his release and on to the presidency, Mandela lived and died fighting for African unity.
Mandela spoke his mind with courage and care without hesitation to correct and rebuke those who sought to further animosity. He left a legacy of love, friendship and brotherhood and a passion for education.
Not only did Mandela liberate his country from the grip of a racist system but also fought for the world’s most vulnerable. He supported worthy causes such as HIV/Aids.
Central to attempts by President Mandela at healing South Africa’s racial wounds was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up in 1995 to encourage candour about atrocities committed during three decades of apartheid. It offered the chance for reflection, forgiveness and embracing one another.
Strengthening governance and leadership institutions was central to his beliefs.
Unfortunately, due to the political and economic instability in Africa, millions of its people are losing faith in the Mandela legacy. To keep his legacy going for generations, as he clearly said, “It is in your hands to make of the world a better place”.
The time to address the gaps of inequality and governance in Africa is now.
As he stepped into the world of no return, Mandela gave us a robust social justice mandate to further democracy, peace and unity and be on the forefront on providing solutions to issues that the human race faces.
Nelson Mandela’s name is now synonymous with the struggle by people everywhere for freedom, equality and justice and a reminder that we must stay determined to confront injustice.
Lemargeroi Saruni, governance and political analyst and Mandela Washington Fellow 2019, Samburu.