Lagos joins rest of the world in paying tribute to African icon
By Vicky Bricks
July 18, the birthday of Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela has come and almost gone. To celebrate the event, The Difference Newspaper, The National Biographer Magazine, The Neighbourhood Book Club and CRIMMD Library hosted a special reading and interactive session to honour the great African icon.
Mandela, who was the first president of a multi-racial South Afric.a has the distinction of being the only African to be honoured by the United Nations with a Special Day called the NELSON MANDELA DAY.
The event commenced at 3.30pm at the CRIMMD Free Public Library in Idimu, Lagos and lasted till 7.pm. In attendance were several notable participants that included Mr. Oluwole Sheriff Olusanya of Sterling Bank, Richard Mammah, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Difference Newspaper, Betty Abah, the Chief Visioner of children’s rights advocacy group, Cee-Hope and Adenike Orimolade, an educationist imbued with a consuming passion to bring up children with a view to making them great.
Others were Anthony Opara, Executive Editor at the Difference Newspaper Jacklean James, a broadcaster and Executive member of CRIMMD, Mbagwu Amarachi Chilaka, Nessa Oparaugo, Ambassador Oluebube Sharon James, Africa’s youngest author Uloma Naomi James, author and poet Ikemsinachukwu James, and the Chief Visioner of CRIMMD, Dr Raphael James.
In his opening remarks, the Publisher of The Difference Newspaper, Richard Mammah said that given the pan-Africanist bent of The Difference, it was just as well that the newspaper would decide to join the world in celebrating one of the greatest sons of the world to emerge from Africa, Dr Nelson Mandela.
Going down memory lane, he recalled that among other great strides in the Mandela story, the icon who had been jailed in Robben Island and other prisons for for 27 years on account of his principled stand against apartheid, had later emerged from prison to become the first black African to preside over the new South Africa. He was leader of the African National Congress (ANC) who also presented him as their candidate in the election which he won convincingly.
Interestingly also, he noted that Mandela, who had been released from prison on February 11 1990, left jail determined to heal the wounds of the past. Significantly then, he went on to champion a policy of national reconciliation and negotiation which helped in no small measure in the transition to the multi-racial democracy in South Africa and for this he received fitting accolades from all over the world, including the most coveted Nobel Peace Price.
It was also noted by participants that it is worthwhile that though Mandela was a budding lawyer who alongside his friend Walter Sisulu had established the first law Chamber to be run by blacks in apartheid South Africa and was also the son of a tribal chief, the iconic figure had defied all of these to push the case for freedom and justice in South Africa.
Other facts also emerged from the discussions. Mandela was President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and remains one South African with the most awards, having grossed over 260 in his life time. He was also guest to leaders from all continents of the world and also played host to world leaders and captains of industry from all over the world.
When he left office the South Africans urged him to continue in office for another tenure but he refused but rather presided over the succession programme that led to the choice of the mercurial Thabo Mbeki, the son of one of his old friends and fellow ANC war horse, the venerable Govan Mbeki.
Mandela died on December 5, 2013. He was until this event still a celebrated elder statesman who continued to voice his opinion on topical issues. In South Africa he was often known as Madiba, an aristocratic and honorific title adopted by the elderly members of the royal clan that he belonged to. This title has now come to be synonymous with Nelson Mandela.
Returning to the event under consideration, this Lagos celebration of the iconic son of Africa was by way of a round table discussion at the CRIMMD Library and Museum which provided an academic ambience in which participants spoke on the different aspects of the Mandela personae and his valued contributions to the development of South Africa especially in the political arena where his politics was a departure from the sit tight syndrome of the bulk of the African political leadership class in the likes of Robert Mugabe who at over 90 years is still presiding over the affairs of his Zimbabwe. Mandela rejected all entreaties to remain in office but retired and devoted his time to using a Non Governmental organization to continue to focus on equally noble initiatives such as the building of schools and the fight against HIV and political rapprochement between white and black South Africans on the one hand, and different cadres of black South Africans on the other.
Overall, speakers at the event were in agreement that African leaders and the political class in Nigeria should emulate the Mandela legacy which is essentially people-centric rather than the current sit-tight syndrome.
In his closing remarks, Mammah noted that Madiba had shown the example that decency in public office can be achieved and called on African leaders to emulate and imbibe the sterling leadership legacy of Dr Mandela in the quest to move their nations forward.
Participants at the session