Amid high tributes and laurels from all across the globe, Nelson Mandela bade adieu to the world which he strived to make a better place to live. He will always be remembered for his unflagging courage and commitment to the dignity of human race. The southern part of Africa which was ripped apart by racial and communal violence for decades suddenly found a soothing balm when Mandela became its president in 1994.
As a president of the country he struggled for the diffusion of racial and civilian tensions which had haunted the African continent from decades. Mandela’s struggle, despite for a particular nation, surpasses continents and boundaries owing to the universal messages of non-violence, peaceful co-existence and denunciation of any discrimination. What matters most at this juncture of history is not only to commemorate that legend but to understand his message in its true spirit. The case of Pakistan particularly becomes relevant when it comes to the understanding of Madiba’s universal philosophy. A country which is crippled due to the inter-ethnic, inter-religious and communal violence is in dire need of messiah like Nelson Mandela who by virtue of his reconciliation could draw the people out from the abyss of despair.
It is not enough just to commemorate the death of this great soul; it is more significant to deliberate upon the legacy of his life and his message. When Mandela was elected as president after the end of apartheid system, the white minority which ruled the black majority for decades began to feel insecure and anticipated a possible revenge. Against these fears Mandela declared that “we will establish a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world”. What we are currently witnessing in Pakistan is quite contrary to this spirit. It even feels like we have lost all our compassion and love for humanity. The growing religious fundamentalism coupled with sectarian discord has placed us between the devil and a deep sea.
Hate for others has penetrated to the lowest stratum of our society and we are becoming rudderless with each passing day. Our condition at this point undoubtedly is, if not more, the same as apartheid South Africa. The recent Rawalpindi incident is just one example of the hatred that has penetrated our collective mindset. It demonstrates our incapacity to accept others with an open spirit of peace and mutual co-existence. It was an epitome of blatant disregard to the respect and honor of humanity when we saw children and elders being indiscriminately slaughtered in broad daylight. We are quick to cherry-pick among the narratives which promote or defend our ideological or religious positions but we seldom show any restrain or calm when it comes to listening to others. Mandela prevailed by receiving honor and respect not only from those who stood by him but from all others as well who at one point of time denounced him as a terrorist and condemned him to life imprisonment. A country so splintered such as ours is in dire need of understanding the universal principles established by the towering Mandela.
A specific politicized version of religion and ideology which is being vehemently propagated since the inception of this country has not only inculcated hate among the different sections of people but has resulted in inter-faith discord. It has hitherto proven itself as a xenophobic worldview which has banished any possibility of peaceful co-existence. Our collective salvation lies in the philosophy of tolerance and love as shown by Nelson Mandela but we do not seem ready to accept it. By uttering few words of commemoration and by posting few lines on Social media we tend to extricate ourselves from a larger civic duty. Our focus as a responsible citizen of this country should be to practically realize the message which has been given to us by the great humanist of this century.
Nelson Mandela is a global hero and I reserve no doubts while saying this but there is a peculiar psychological tendency in our love for heroes. In the course of our six decades journey we produced many notable personalities who strived for the salvation of humanity in general and our country in particular. Take for example the case of Malala Yousafzai, a girl whose quote; “one girl, one pen and one book can change the whole world” not only appealed to the whole world but we witnessed a rejuvenated global interest in the education for women. But what happened in our country is quite sad. We view our own heroes with the eye of suspicion and we take no long to declare them as some western puppet or some foreign agent. When Mandela declares that “Education is the most powerful weapon by which we can change the world” we are not ready to see the mutual coherence of both these messages.
History remembers those people who have altered its course and Nelson Mandela was undoubtedly one of them. It was honor for every human of this planet who longed to see Madiba living among them. But as this towering personality has now departed, his messages of love and human dignity shall be written in golden words forever and his struggle and life would be an inspiration for those who aspire to change the course of history in positive direction. Rest in Peace Madiba..!!