“The history of liberation heroes shows that when they come into office they interact with powerful groups: they can easily forget that they’ve been put in power by the poorest of the poor. They often lose their common touch, and turn against their own people.” – Mandela: The Authorised Biography by Anthony Sampson.
Oh yes, who would on this auspicious but sad occasion not join our South African brothers and sisters in paying tribute to this giant of an African?
Tribute not done in empty choruses but coming from the bottom of the heart in appreciation of the sacrifices that Madiba endured to ensure the freedom that South Africa, and by extension indeed we Namibians as well as the entire African continent, enjoy today.
Indeed the South African democritisation as has come to be, as much as freedom it is, is for all intents and purposes emancipation for the entire peace and freedom-loving human race, geographical delineations notwithstanding. For what else can one do at this moment and hour than salute him. Because liberty has at last come to our shores, thanks to his immeasurable sacrifices, undefined and limitless and priceless contribution, human demeanour, and impeccable and un-blemished leadership.
Yes, one cannot but celebrate him because his indeed has been a long walk to freedom. But while he has completed that walk to freedom, one wonders whether the same can be said of many of us, especially many of us of this generation and beyond.
Because as many have been punctuating, especially now that Madiba has eventually completed his “walk to freedom”, any walk to freedom cannot be complete. One takes this to mean that our societies, the South African society, as much as Namibian, and any other African society for that matter, has as yet to walk that “long walk to freedom” as any walk to freedom cannot be complete.
The walk that all of us may have walked and completed, with Madiba, be it in Namibia, South Africa, and elsewhere on the African continent, is only the political freedom walk, the “seek ye the political kingdom first” walk in the words of one of the African states persona of all times, Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.
This means that the business of the walk to freedom, as it cannot be complete, has by no means been completed.
It is just that Madiba, and many others like the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Hitjevi Veii, have walked their walk to freedom. But it does not mean that the walks have been complete. They have honourably done their part. It is for the latter generations to take the walk further.
While joining fellow Namibians, and our neighbouring brothers and sisters in the South, and indeed the rest of the African continent, and the international community in celebrating this great states persona, and others, I cannot but suspect how genuine this chorus may be.
Especially how genuine is the intent to follow in their footsteps. Especially when such following seems only to be pledged in their hereafter. Indeed both Madiba and the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation have been out of public office for more than ten years now, but can their heirs apparent, and the South African and Namibian societies really be said to have been emulating their good deeds and states personaship to further the walk to freedom?
I have my reservations about this, to only hear only now when Madiba has retired eternally, that we shall be following in his footsteps. Would Madiba not be able to rest in eternal peace only if over the last ten years or so that he has been out of office, he could have been assured that what he bequeathed, the many good achievements, attributes, values and norms that seem now to be outpoured over his mortal as part of his legacies, has been consolidated these last 14 years that he has been out of public office?
If during the last 14 years while Madiba has been alive South Africa, and indeed the rest of the world, could not manifest to him that it is and would be a better South Africa, Africa and a World that he cherished and was indeed prepared to die for, what guarantee do we have that now that he is not watching over us, we shall deliver on this?
One cannot but really remain to be convinced. And that is why at this juncture one cannot but refuse to say Hamba Kahle Madiba, but instead say Long Live Madiba! So that he can keep a watchful eye over the many trappings, temptations, deviations, greed, shenanigans, you name them. Until one is convinced that following in his footsteps, and that of others like the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation, is not a hollow pledge.
By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro