I Am the Next Mandella! By Solomon Patrick Nizah
Nigeria our beloved country, we all claimed to love and cherish and wish to see it grow and take a front row among the nations of the world. It is very unfortunate that we are where we are and are likely to be where we are for a very long time to come. I am entitled to my opinion as much as you are to yours, but regardless of what we think or believe, reality and truth will not change simply because you continue to deny it. The prosperity of tomorrow is directly proportional to the efforts of today.
The way our youths reason and behave is so pathetic that you begin to wonder if truly we are Nigerians. The venom and apathy in their thoughts and the word they spit shows a generation divided and conditioned by hate, sectionalism, regionalism, tribalism, ethnicity and racism of religion, region and social status. We accuse our elites of insensitivity, ineptitude, greed and corruption but our attitude shows nothing different but rather worse.
If you go through the comments of our youths on social media about national issues, it will surprise and confuse you of what tomorrow will be like if this same youth are given the opportunity to lead, where will they take us? Of course to abyss! We claim to be learned, but it doesn’t reflect on our thinking, attitude and behaviours. There is no show of character in our conducts. We look at the personality involved without seeing the message, thereby making us more myopic, with no wisdom and vision.
We Nigerians have praised and worshiped Nelson Madiba Mandela and have raised questions like “will Nigeria produce a Mandela”? I don’t want to be the one to give the answer. How many of our youths have made up their mind to be the next Mandela? It will interest you to know that Mandela did not achieve his feat at old age, he had believed in his course even as a youth and has worked and collaborated with like minded youths of his time, who believed that a united and racially free South Africa is possible, though it never came easy but for certain it was possible, as it did came to be.
Mandela believed in something and worked for it, he said “a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination and that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. But what happens when the educated decide to think and behave less socially than the ants. Many of our youths are going to school today but they are not educated and Mandela believed that “No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated”. For education brings with it knowledge and reasoning, understanding and wisdom, the ability to look deep and dissect, it shapes up character and gives light to our thoughts.
An educated person will acknowledge good when it is good and bad when it is bad rather than the personality involved. Sometimes in life the best lesson you can learn is likely to come from your enemy. We must be able to discern the truth and the person. Let us stop attacking personalities but what they do at the time. If you continue to attack people based on what they did in the past without actually looking at the content of what they are offering at the moment you are likely to lose a glorious opportunity in life that you may never recover. If Paul in the bible was to be in Nigeria today, I believe his message will not be heard by many on the basis that he was once a persecutor of the brethren how can he now preach the message which he violently opposed. Let us not give too much emphasis on the messenger but rather the content of the message, for anything short of that will amount to racism of thought and ideas.
In as much as the youth are on a free fall, our leaders must also know that” there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. Even at old age they can still take the part of honour by doing the right thing. Forget bitterness, forget the past but do not forget the lessons of the past, let’s build on it. Like the great Mandela, “I detest racialism and ethnicity because I regard it as a barbaric thing”, whether it comes from a black man or a white man”, a Southerner, Westerner, Easterner or Northerner. All we are saying is that “Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all”. There is no reason for us to have slaves in a free nation.
I dream of a Nigeria which is in peace with itself, but we must know “if there are dreams about a beautiful Nigeria, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness. As the future Mandela’s “let freedom reign”. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement. We can’t afford to be slandering and killing one another. As a student of the Nelson Mandel school of thought, I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities, because he made me to understand that “to deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”. In his philosophy, he was categorical that “in countries where innocent people are dying, the leaders are following their blood rather than their brains”. He further said that “where globalization means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom” not ethnic, religious or personal goals as is often the case.
The Mandelas’ of tomorrow must be made today; else there will be no Mandelas’ for tomorrow. Mandela was not born with all the opportunities of life; he was a product of slavery, oppression, deprivation and struggle. The prison he went to was not a paradise park; he sacrificed his then freedom and rejected partial freedom. The biblical Joseph was in a corrupted Egypt but choose to live a righteous life, while in Babylon Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the King’ food. Out of the blazing furnace of the blacksmith, comes a perfect tool that blazes through the earth to provide food for mankind. Let us be rationalistic in our day to day dealings as learned people which we usually claim to be. We all are potential Mandelas’ let us rise and be it, it is within our reach, for the atrocities of today’s leaders have given us the platform to be the next Mandela.
We the youth must all rise in the spirit and voice of that one man that united a nation once divided and say “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”. We will make the difference and the world will celebrate and remember us, and by our actions as Nigerians our country will take the lead in Africa and Africa its place among continents of this great planet. I have made my decisions, there is no going back, I AM THE NEXT MANDELA!
SOLOMON PATRICK NIZAH
All quotes are from Nelson Mandela
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