On Tuesday December 10 2013 at the Centennial Pavilion at Memorial and reflection service Programs organized by the government of Liberia to celebrate the passing of the former President of South Africa Vice President, all protocols being referenced and respected kindly allow me to address all as distinguished mourners.
Let me join other patriots here in Liberia to thank the government and the organizers for this memorial to honor the passing of Madiba Nelson Mandela at about the same time when other world leaders join the South African government and people to memorialize this great African and world leader. Allow me to also thank the organizers for inviting me to join others to reflect on this extraordinary life.
I reflect today on the many years back as student activists and later women’s advocate and activist during my years of studies and lectures in Ghana from 1981 to 1994 either on the Campuses of the Ghana institute of journalism or the University of Ghana at Legon.
In Ghana we met, worked, spoke and embraced the cause of the liberation struggle through the African national congress as our mother organization in our works and interaction we live the struggle as our struggle. At some point with a slight change of accent, people actually for a while never saw me as a Liberian student on the campus of the University of Ghana but as a South African student, when we articulated upon many issues to raise awareness and consciousness. I had to make corrections ever so often because we understood the issues, espoused and articulated them where ever we went, we took the battles of the African national congress to the pan African congress and to the world on behalf of the ANC. We learned from there to take clear sides in the struggle, the side of the ANC and be on the right path.
And because we had become so involved we had to learn the click clack sound of the Xhosa pronunciation of Madiba’s name. It is pronounced Nelson Holee kla kla Mandela though spelt Rholihlahla
Today, as it was then, Nelson Mandela was a bold black man, a father figure who showed so much love and compassion to humanity. That 27 years of captivity and incarceration did not crystallize into venom of hatred or a guile of bloodshed when he had the opportunity to lead his people an nation South Africa. He showed leadership of brotherhood and courage to forgive and live so others could live in a free peaceful, tolerant and democratic South Africa.
I say like Christ he suffered so the world could appreciate the sufferings of the black people of South Africa
Liberia and Liberians had their share of history with the formation of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA). and the Liberian Peoples Party to the Progressive Peoples Party have one way or the other been rooted in the stance against the tyrannical and criminal regime of apartheid south Africa. Our government under Tubman and Tolbert played their roles in the liberation struggle.
As we reflect on the greatness of the humanity this scion of Africa showed let us not forget that yesterday in history he was thrown in the dustbin and classified as a terrorist. We were proud then and continue to be proud now because he lived his belief as a proud African, an educated barrister and one who saw through the criminality of the system and used every means including the law, morality and political persuasion by any and all means necessary to bring pride dignity and political emancipation to his people.
I would be remiss in my duty here if i did not correct the young student leader of the great Student Unification Party of the University of Liberia who just said that apartheid is also being practiced here a short while ago. No please do not make that mistake to liken anything to the apartheid system. It was a criminal system which used laws to separate and oppress the black people of South Africa
Mandela worked in an organization called the African national congress. They worked to develop the freedom charter.. They built and they struggled. He worked with Chief Albert Lituli. he worked with comrades Mbeki, Olivar Tambo, Walter Sisulu, white comrades like Joe Slovo and Ruth First, Helen Joseph just to name a few of the older generation who were like uncles and aunties in our comrade fashion the next layer of the struggle had Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma ..Cyril Rhamaphosa…Jackie Selebi and comrades then now Ambassador Danel Mavembela, Welelay just to name a few who inter acted with our own Togba Nah Tipteh, Amos Sawyer, Dew Tuan Wleh Mason, Conmany B Wesseh, Dusty Wolokolie, Alaric Tokpa, Ezekiel Pajiobo just to name a few
We must eulogise Mandela long after the physical interment to look at his life and most importantly what he did for the women of South Africa. He worked with them. They the ANC women’s league they worked with him and “the crews” as we used to say of the ANC leadership. Concretely and in continuation of the struggle he worked for the emancipating dignity and empowerment of the women of South Africa and Africa at large.
The stem of his life shredded some leaves in the path of our President..Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who has said she was inspired by the courage of Winnie Mandela and by the fortitude of Nelson Mandela’ stoic resilience. And Our President said with conviction, commitment and compassion in eulogy honor his passage a few days ago on the BBC world service radio how much she appreciates the Mandela’s struggle of his people
Today we as Liberian take pride in sharing in his contribution to the struggle on the continent. There are Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s our president Joyce Banda Malawian president, Nkosee Zana Dlamini Zuma, former foreign minister of South Africa and today chairperson of the African Union
Winnie Madikizela Mandela in her contribution to the anti apartheid struggle following several arrests, torture and intimidation wrote a book. Her book “part of my soul”.. Went with him whilst he was in prison. Let me borrow from that theme to conclude that with his passing a beautiful part of the African soul has gone up to the heavens to let the good lord know that black people are God’s own beautiful creation.
With his passing one distinctive feature we must note is the humanity he showed the world …his life of struggle carried not guile of bitterness but a genuine sweetness of tolerance and motivational leadership.. This I believe is what a true African blank man called Madiba Mandela brought to the world stage of leadership and one we can memorialize in our young and nascent democracy Liberia.
Nelson Roli kla kla Mandela… go on and take your rest after that long walk for freedom.
Medina A. Wesseh
Attorney At Law
International Law Group, LLC