A giant scholar of humanity, a great politician
God gifted Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela to South Africa on the 18th of July 1918 and called his name on the 5th of December 2013.
In life, he fiercely fought for freedom and human dignity for his people. Sentenced to life imprisonment but eventually released after serving more than a quarter of century in jail, he harboured no hate. Elected President of his country, he held to his deep belief that “inclusivity” of all citizens in the affairs of their nation is one fundamental of democracy. He fought with greater courage for racial reconciliation and peace among his divided people, even as he continued his crusade for social justice. For daring, he received the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
The first part of his dream – reconciliation and peace – is a milestone achievement, indeed. The second part – social justice for all his people – remains elusive and makes the first part fragile. Not his fault but nonetheless sadly, news reports tell us that Mandela’s dream for the major segment of his people remains unfinished. Poverty thrives and the nation’s wealth remains unfairly distributed.
In fact, poverty in many parts of the world – Canada and the Philippines included – is a continuing stubborn reality.
Let us, therefore, hope that as world leaders join the global citizenry in grieving his loss, pay their respects, and rejoice his legacy, they will work, in the first instance, with the government of South Africa and her citizens to see to it that Mandela’s whole dream be fully realized and not remain forever unfinished.
May this challenge to world leaders extend beyond that country to the other countries of the world equally afflicted.
For our part, may his legacy – the epitome of his political life – be a constant reminder and make the remainder of our life’s journey a Mandela march in our own neighbourhood, community and country.
Dr. Rey Pagtakhan – a retired medical doctor and professor and author of several publications for medical journals, books and community newspapers – served in Canada’s Parliament for 15 ½ years with part of that tenure as senior cabinet minister in the Government of Canada.