This week we celebrated Heroes and Unity days. It is meant to be a time at which we remember our heroes and also unite as a country. However, I am drawn to one African hero who is clinging on to dear life, former South African President Nelson Mandela. The world, including I hold our breaths waiting to hear any news of his health or sign that he will come to the balcony and do his iconic wave. Nevertheless, I like the rest of the world are leaving in denial and are failing to come to the terms that the hero we so dearly love is only a mere mortal.
A few weeks ago, I read a beautiful article written by Marelise Van der Merwe titled ‘Madiba, I let you go.’ The author in this piece wonders why the rest of South Africa is holding onto Mandela and refusing to let him die in peace. She believes the reason South Africans want Mandela to remain alive is that they are unsure of the future after him. She really does make some valid points, and I would urge you to read her point of view. There is no African leader who is as revered and celebrated by the entire world quite like the former head of state. From queens to presidents, rappers to super models, everyone wanted a piece of him. Yes, after 27 years of imprisonment what the man did after his release was quite remarkable. He did not send the armies to charge on the whites and drag the apartheid perpetrators by the legs. If he had done that some would have argued that he would have been more than justified after all the torture he had to endure, but instead he forgave them and preached for reconciliation. He voluntarily handed over the reins to Thabo Mbeki when he felt it was his time to step down.
I cannot help ponder that if for a moment, we could just borrow Mandela and let him offer his wisdom on what is happening in Zambia. What would he tell us? Would he say that all is well and we are on our way to our promised land or we are headed the wrong direction and we need to change? So far, this nation has changed presidents four times. However, each time we have changed leaders, each time we have looked back at our past and refused to move ahead. We have blamed the previous governments for the wrong that currently happens. We have stripped and dragged the former presidents and their colleagues through the dirt that they no longer have legacies to boast of. Their flaws and shortcomings have been magnified a thousand times more than any accomplishments they achieved. Next to their names, we have intentionally put adjectives that have engraved in our minds that they once did us wrong.
Frankly, I am fatigued. I am exhausted. I am tired. I am stressed out, for how long will keep dragging ourselves back to the past hoping to find explanations for the current situations that we face in this nation. There is a reason it is called history. Yes, we as a nation may have been done wrong, yes we as a people may be justified to point a finger but when will it all end. Like Mandela, can’t we just say that we forgive you? We forgive you for sending this nation into the doldrums; we forgive you for the money you stole; we forgive you for the mistreatment; we forgive you for the injustice; WE FORGIVE YOU. And then may this nation begin to write a new chapter for itself. One that we would be proud of and will not involve digging up graves and looking for the flaws through a magnifying glass. I think if Mandela was Zambian that is what he would do. The man may be a mortal, yet he gave this world one important lesson that we can move on. But then maybe I should not be wishing that Mandela was Zambian, I should actually be wishing that the hero who will transform this nation may come from these soils.