The outcry has been worldwide since the announcement that the South African liberator, leader and former president Nelson Mandela had passed away on December 5, 2013. He had lived a long life and at the age of 95 years, he finally went to meet his ancestors. Many of his most famous quotes are still being posted, retweeted and ‘meme-d’ across the web, even among the youngest among our generation. In parallel, eulogies and speeches to the great man that he was have been pouring from leaders around the world.
It is hard to believe that Nelson Mandela is dead. The world knew it was going to happen, his repeated hospital visits serving as a stern warning but no one was prepared for it. Today he is praised as a hero by the same people who advocated for his imprisonment. Indeed he was a presence, a figure who lived. In a world plagued by greed and hatred, he brought forgiveness and understanding. And now that he is gone, we have to look to the future. Much work still needs to be done in Africa, the same continent that gave birth to Madiba. So who will carry his torch? Africa is full of intellectuals and politicians but lacks in charismatic leaders, like Nelson Mandela. These men, with the exception of very few, have risen up to office in mostly questionable manners, which explain the cliché nature of their praise for Mandela. They are wedded with vengeance, driven by greed and hunger only for more power in office. With them out of the picture, what Africa is left with is its youth. That the African youth is the future of Africa is not a new fact. That this youth is largely unprepared to carry the torch is another ‘true fact’. The truth is that the African youth has been pushed to the corner for so long by authoritarian politicians in their plan to maintain the status quo in the African political and social arena. but this is gradually changing. This change is in part due to the reversed migration which has been slowly increasing in Africa. Many Africans are now returning back home, with ideas, connections and the aim to change their respective countries. Economic decline and disappearing jobs in the West has turned the focus towards the Dark Continent, which is gradually becoming a beacon of light. In parallel, grassroots movements activities and startups in Sub-Saharan Africa are flooding both the African and international arena like never before in history.
Africa is certainly rising, this time on its own feet and perhaps instead of mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, we should celebrate the life he gives to us by his death; maybe not a ‘savior’ as such but certainly an inspiration to always look up to.