A Retro Open Letter to Madiba

Dear Sir;
We watched your funeral recently with awe and admiration. Even through your trials as a prisoner and your various family squabbles throughout your life you were a man destined to rise above this world of petty belligerence and social infighting. You decided that your allegiance to your tribal ancestors should play a secondary role to your allegiance to South Africans as a whole, all of whom should be respected in the “Rainbow Nation.” You even sacrificed your allegiance to your colour to promote white South African rugby in a way that was unimaginable previously. Your fellow white South Africans could not rise to such a high level of tolerance and understanding.

Many spoke at your funeral of the legacy you left to the South African people. I believe your legacy extended even further, to the world stage. There are many political leaders who would benefit from even a little of the political and social wisdom you displayed during your struggle for freedom and your ascent to the presidency. It’s a pity that many of those leaders come nowhere near the stature that you upheld with your liberal, humanitarian views and beliefs. Even your current successor has been found seriously wanting and the dogs that are barking at his tree can think only of the power they might enjoy by toppling him from his position.

World-class stature is currently seriously wanting. I think you already knew this if only secretly before you passed over. Why is it that men succumb to their baser instincts when a shining beacon is available to illuminate the path? Are we that weak and feeble? It seems so. I have been writing about the cultural differences among our peoples. I believe the people of the west do not understand the rich cultures that are part of the African tradition. You were aware of these cultures, growing up within your tribal enclave but observing those of your neighbours and learning that others have cultures very similar to your own. You believed that animosity between different peoples or groups is, in the end, futile. You also observed that freedom is the ultimate human goal. However, when given freedom, why do many people abuse it, as if it is a right without responsibility?

Someone with whom you might at one time have had something in common – fighting for the right of self-determination – the Right Honourable President of Uganda, Uweri Museveni has recently passed a bill removing freedom and the right of self-determination from his gay and lesbian fellow citizens. In fact he also manipulated the last election (2015) to ensure he removes the right of self-determination from his electorate as well. I can share with you also the unfortunate rise of one of your fellow South Africans, Julius Malema who seems determined to drive South Africa along the same path as Mugabe’s Zimbabwe – and we can all see how that turned out

I assume that South Africa and the world was ready for you when you came into the light. Now, however, it seems we no longer wish to carry that flame. We succumb too easily to darkness. I suppose that when the world is again in dire need you, or one like you, he or she will come along again to show us the way. Until then pity us our suffering.
From an admirer.

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About johnderonde

UK-based charity worker in Tanzania
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