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Dr Nelson Mandela did not earn his respected position by deceitful leadership, by betraying his people or by looting the treasury of his country: he also did not embark on any image laundering. He achieved this by hard work, honesty, belief in a just course, focus, pursuit of a national dream and determination to live a lasting legacy for his nation and the entire African people.
He had a dream for his people- a dream to see his people walk side by side with the white man; a dream to see everyone enjoy equal and inalienable rights. He had a dream to see the black man treated with some level of respect and dignity: he wished for a state where everyone (black or white) would have the same voting rights, attend the same schools, eat in the same canteen, play on the same pitch, ride in the same public transport, enjoy the same freedom of speech, and live in the same neighbourhood.
He pursued his dream and went to jail for 27 solid years; he never discarded his vision in the midst of threats and intimidations: he remained faithful to a just course. He sacrificed his time, future, marriage and dreams in order to give hope to his people. He was resolute; he knew what he wanted and was not ready to trade his conscience for money. He was not willing to sell the rights of his people for peanuts and then leave them to remain second tier citizens for eternity.
He suffered 27 years of deprivation, hunger, torture, intimidation, separation, oppression and maltreatment in order to ensure apartheid had no more place to stay in South Africa. Thereafter, he became the first Black President of the nation of South Africa. He provided his people with purposeful, accountable, honest and directional leadership. He set the pace for other African leaders to follow.
He ruled for his specified first tenure in office, and when he completed it, instead of towing the path of other African leaders, he decided to take the road of honour by refusing to go for a second tenure. He decided to show other black leaders how to choose the path of honour above material gains. Today, the world celebrates him as the best leader the continent of Africa ever had.
We celebrate with Dr Nelson Mandela as he turns 92 years and join to say he has shown by his leadership style that Africa still has some rays of hope. You have indeed shown that all hope is not lost for our continent. We believe there are those who would one day remember your legacy and decide to build on the solid foundation you have laid for our continent in order to lead us out of the woods.
Your 92 years on earth have not been wasted ones; you have used them to touch lives positively. You have used them to set records worthy of emulation: you have shown that there are still people who value their reputation above materialism in Africa. Your achievements have shown that we still have remnants who we could believe in, to help us put this continent on the path to sustainable development. Posterity would always remember you for your role in destroying the claws of apartheid in your country and for making your country one of the most respectable countries in this part of the world today. Your name has entered the annals of history and children yet unborn would one day see the foot prints you left on the sand of time.
We wish African leaders would take a leaf out of your book and decide to put the interest of their people before their personal interests and become more accountable to the masses. We wish that in less than a decade from now, Africans would be proud to say they do not want to go to other continents to seek for the greener pasture anymore. We pray that things should change for the better – constant power supply, smooth roads, security of lives and property, quality education, justice, rule of law, vibrant leadership and sustainable development.
We wish you a HAPPY BIRTH DAY, and we pray that God would sustain your life and make you see the Africa of your dream before you finally take your exit from this earth to be with the Lord forever. We pop our champagne as we say more happy years to you, Dr Nelson Mandela.