A few days ago, a new age dawned on the age of men. It dawned on us in a single moment, the moment when the last of the titans of the last age left us, when the last general of the army of the greatest men of the last one hundred years died. The moment Nelson Mandela died. Few would say they weren’t expecting it, but fewer people would say they were prepared for it. The passing of the legend sent shock waves that reverberated across the six continents. The Chinese, the Americans, the Arabians, all of Europe and Africa wept. No one could put up a brave face, even the most cold hearted of men. Never in my life have I seen so much love, respect and reverence shown to a man in death. The reaction of the human race to the passing of the legendary South African has been unbelievable.
Madiba left a gaping void, a huge chasm not just in South Africa but in the world. Before the time of this great man and his fellow generals which included the likes of Mohandas Gandhi and Winston Churchill, the world searched hard for inspiration, the earth was bereft titans who fought for the survival of the human spirit. It would be hundreds of years before they arrived and now that Mandela has gone, I think it would take another hundred years before we see men like these. Wole Soyinka’s tribute aptly describes my thoughts over Madiba’s death. He says that “Africa has lost its soul and there’s nothing miraculous left in the world.” It is that simple: there is nothing spectacular left anymore, no more inspiration, no more light. In this age of corrupt leaders, disrespectful and pleasure seeking youth and widespread lack of values, Mandela’s death represents a full entrance into a new age of weak, unpatriotic men and corrupt leadership.
Where do we go from here? What happens to the world now? Will this generation ever have another privilege to walk this same earth with another icon? Narrowing it down to Africa one sees that there is no hope in sight. The desire to hold on to power by force still persists amongst African leaders. Unlike Madiba-who after nearly 30 years of struggling for freedom and finally getting it, ruled his country for only a single term of 5 years and decided to relinquish power-African leaders prefer to hold on to power and when they are no longer able to do so, they hand it to their children. The likes of Robert Mugabe, Omar Bongo, Paul Biya and the deposed Hosni Mubarak lend credence to this. Over here in Nigeria the story hasn’t been much different either. Everyone who has been in power in this country has found it hard to relinquish. Our current leader is no exception too.
The youths too have been complicit in this rot. African youths are much less concerned about the state of things in their countries. No one is bothered about the nepotism, the mismanagement, the highhandedness and the corruption. Mandela wasn’t even up to 30 years old when he began to ask for better living conditions for his people. He didn’t have twitter, there was no rule of law supporting peaceful protests, he didn’t have access to many things we have now. Most of all, he never gave up. He had 27 years of his life taken away from him. He was locked away from friends and family at the prime of his life. But he never gave up! Where do we find African youths like this?
We may never be able to see the great general and his mighty band of titans of the just concluded age which included great people like Kofi Awoonor, Steve Biko, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Festus Iyayi, Walter Sisulu, Gani Fawehinmi, Fela Kuti et al anymore, but we can take solace in the fact that the world is not completely inhabitable place today because of the ideals they fought for and because of the untold hardships they faced to give us the hope we have today. All we can do is try and emulate them and hope that just before this age gets the best of our world, another titan will rise and give hope to the human race. I do hope he or she is walking amongst us already.
Iruoje ‘Tweezy’ Emmanuel