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“A letter to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela”
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“A letter to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela”

 As people around the world recently used the celebration of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday to reflect on the contribution of this former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner,  Sunday Memba, 22, a Correspondent from Matete in Kenya, recalls not just Nelson Mandela’s contribution to Africa but also that of other African leaders who have left a rich legacy. He shares his reflections in a heartfelt letter to Nelson Mandela.

Dear Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,

On July 18, 2018, Africa and the world over celebrated what would have been your 100th birthday if you had been with us. In your very own home, South Africa, Barrack Obama, the son of an African gentleman, reflected on the hope that you bestowed upon Africa. In the place of your birth, the great Pan-Africanist and lawyer Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba spoke about what you would have told Africa if you were alive on that very day. He told us that you would have reminded Africa of her great resources and opportunities that lay deep in her land and people.

However, the spirit of this letter is not to repeat what other people spoke about on that day. As you rest in Valhalla together with other great men who led Africa,  please pass on a message to them from us.  

Please tell Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara that Africa still remembers him. He told us that the emancipation of women is the basic ingredient of a society that seeks to prosper. Today, we have come to the realization of the truthfulness of these words. He even told us that he who feeds you controls you. Please tell him that we are trying to be self-sufficient despite the various socio-economic problems that engulf our continent. Most importantly, tell him that we atone for the sins of those who assassinated him.

When you meet Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, tell him that he was right about wealth. Mwalimu told us that there is nothing noble in fleecing the public coffers to gain wealth. He taught us that we should eat from the sweat of our brows. It is unfortunate that most African leaders still benefit from the spoils of corruption. In spite of this, brief him that we have had good presidents like Ian Khama, the former president of Botswana who fought tooth and nail against corruption. Tell him – we are trying.

When you dine with Kwame Nkrumah, the great African leader who founded the African Union, tell him that our unity is still bleak. Communities are rising against communities, tribe against tribe and nation against nation. In Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, peace is just but a phrase. However, there is a ray of hope. Ethiopia and Eritrea are now brothers and sisters. Morocco is now part of the African Union. Despite all these challenges, let Nkrumah know that we are trying.

As you walk in the corridors of Valhalla and chat with Patrice Émery Lumumba, tell him that we are sorry that he left without a good send off. His fight against neocolonialism to the point of accepting death by a firing squad is still fresh in our minds. Tell him that since he left the most blessed country in the world, it is now labelled the poorest in the world – a country that fails to afford money to hold an election but spends excessively on foreign travel. The Pan – Africanist spirit he promoted is dying and many Africans find greener pastures away from this land of milk and honey. Tell him that despite this, we have learnt to love our own while at the same time appreciating what the world offers. His spirit lives on.

Finally, when you laugh with Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela, tell her that we really miss her. We vividly remember her as she fought for the rights of women and oppressed persons during her time here on earth. We shall keep the fight. We shall speak out when we find that things are unsuitable for us and unjust, and we shall praise what befits us.

As I pen these last words, thank Eduardo Mondlane, Amílcar Cabral, Steve Biko, Samora Machel, John Garang and other great African leaders in whose shadow we stand today.

Goodbye Mandela.

Sunday Memba,

A son of an African Gentleman.

photo credit: The Commonwealth via assets.thecommonwealth.org/

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About me: I am a young Kenyan who believes in social justice and promoting the rights of every man, woman and child. My ability to write provides one of the best platforms to address key issues in Kenya.

Currently, I am a law graduate and a writer with the Nairobi Law Monthly magazine. I am also enthusiastic about writing and reading.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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