Nelson Mandela Lives!

Dear Kenyans,

To honour Mandela on this Nelson Mandela International Day, the UN asks everyone to devote 67 minutes to public service. In the Tata Madiba spirit, DR suggests the following good deeds for the day:-

1. Read a story-book to small children eg. Mike Sonko & Co.

2. Help the blind e.g. the GOK. by printing out the entire Constitution in braille so that they can finally SEE what Kenyans are making such a big fuss about.

3. Help the deaf e.g. Kenya Power, by coming up with your own pictoral ads to tell them how you really feel about their services.

4. Help the needy e.g the Nyachae-led Commissioners who have apparently been working pro-bono for over six months.

5. Be kind to animals e.g Parliamentarians. by dangling the “carrot” of your 2012 re-election vote, only on condition they shape up.

But on a serious note, this time last year I wrote a post “When Mandela Dies” to coincide with Madiba’s 92nd birthday but more so as a reaction to the surprising news that the UN had officially made July 18th Nelson Mandela International Day. It seemed a liiittle premature to me, but hey, these things happen right? Anyways, based on the comments we recieved, the general consensus seems to be that Mandela is no god and the world must simply tone-down on the hero-worshipping. Even South Africans themselves amidst the Mandela-mania also admit that Mandela was/is not perfect. But the difference between them and the rest of us is that while we are quick to start comparing Mandela to Obama, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and others, South Africans simply look at the man that is Nelson Mandela. South Africans have watched him go from man to myth and now more than ever want to emulate him.

As one SA journalist puts it:

“His transformation from a world renowned prisoner to a global icon has been phenomenal. The secret must lie in his proven ability to reinvent himself and the astuteness of those who worked on his image when he could not do it for himself. Perhaps we should not be altogether surprised. Mandela has been meticulous and deliberate about the building his own image for a long time – an exercise fanatic, a snappy and a strategic dresser for nearly fifty years. If one adds to all these a deliberate campaign of defiance – inside and outside the country – designed to make his name known, the result could only be an icon and a myth of global proportions.”

All in all, Mandela will forever be a global icon in his own right. Although there’s always a tendency to compare him with other historical figures of the world, we should never forget the role he has played and continues to play in putting the African continent on the map.

Happy Birthday Madiba!

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