|“Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all my people were the chains on me”
The Castle of Freedom
Written by Mohamed DIBO.
When we meditate in the Human history searching and digging for its essence and its signification, we can’t but stop and reflect upon the injustice, the oppression, and the grievances that stain both the history and the humanity at large. Oppressors and tyrannies’ long and repeated attempts to assassinate the human values of justice and freedom and equality were always and will forever be defied and fought by the heroes of humanity; those heroes who illuminated the history of human struggle by their pursuit of freedom determined to let their people live the life of dignity and prosperity.
Those tyrannical acts against humanity did not succeed in erasing the names of those heroes and their achievements from the memory of the history. No one can forget the French revolutionists, Al-Hallaj, Iben Arabi, Gandhi, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumemba or Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela struggled for almost 50 years, 27 of which he spent in prison. His struggle aimed to remove one of the black points that stain the human history, which is the Apartheid system that ruled South Africa for more than 3 centuries.
His book “Long Walk to Freedom” is a history where the personal interchanges with the general, and where his life merges with the turnabouts in the South African history. Starting with his birth in 1918, reaching the history of Transkei and Johannesburg, the Xhosa, the emergence of the ANC Party, and the birth of the MK (Spear of the Nation); all of which are major milestones in the history of this country.
It goes without saying that the struggle of Nelson Mandela was a continuation and an extension of the struggle of his ancestors and grandfathers and the Xhosa heroes like Shaka and Makana whose stories were music to his ears as a child. Mandela had not only completed their struggle but he added another dimension to its meaning by fighting to achieve the democracy in his country.
Mandela’s struggle was marked with his extreme humility and modesty. He never pretended to be an all-knowing person; throughout his life, he proved that any small thing in people’s lives can be a source of knowledge and learning. Mandela learned from the prison, from love, from his life’s most humiliating and disturbing moments. His thrive for knowledge was what made him a significant person and a flexible leader who adapted to the most difficult conditions, and this enabled him to defy and stand in the face of the oppression and the injustice to grant his people’s rights and freedom.
Additionally, Mandela was highly recognized for his distinctive feeling of the historical moments. He was the man of the brave decisions, and he knew when to take them.
With the acceleration of the apartheid acts and the reinforcement of the segregation laws in 1949, Mandela felt that a bold decision needed to be taken, and thus, he moved from the non-violent mass struggle to the armed one even though the ANC adapted the non-violence strategy. Hence, along with his comrades, Mandela co-founded the MK Organization, the armed wing of the Party for the organized violence, the “Spear of the Nation”, it was another decision which would affect the History of South Africa for the next coming half a century.
His second brave decision is represented by his will to “talk with the enemy”, for he strongly believed that this step would be for the best interest of his people and his country. His bravery and will power made him take another bold decision of choosing the struggle and fulfilling his duties towards his people over his own family and children. Not because he didn’t love his family, but because he saw that their lives would be meaningless without freedom.
His altruism was what made him the unbreakable prisoner and enabled him to see the true colours of people.
It would be stated that his self-denial was evident when he refused to give up the armed struggle for his release of imprisonment despite the all the suffering and the bitterness. He strongly believed that he will never give up any part of his freedom for “freedom is indivisible”.
Mandela’s love, good –heartedness and generosity were forever present in his life. When he was first arrested in the presence of his family, he wasn’t thinking of the suffering and the pain that await him, but he was rather reflecting upon the effect of this scene on his children’s feelings.
Despite all the misery and the pain that he had witnessed through out his life, it never made him surrender or submit to sadness and sorrow. Even in his weak and most human moments, he would always relinquish the despair with his hope and determination to live and put an end to the oppression of his people.
Mandela’s love of life was not in vain; he had always realized that his battle was at the first place a human and a moral one. His determination and refusal to lose this battle was merely out of his desire to conquer his enemies with his love and humanity.
Needless to mention that in spite of the different methods of struggle that exist around the world and the differences in the prevailing conditions, we detect a lot of similarities between Mandela and Che Guevara, for example, both of whom fought and scarified everything for their people’s sake. We see as well how Mandela and Gandhi shared the same spiritual sublimity and the same faith in the goodness of all human beings. Not to forget how Mandela and Fidel Castro became presidents of their countries after a long walk of struggle and imprisonment. Nevertheless, Mandela decided to leave all what he could have had behind, to finally spend what remained of his life in peace and serenity by the side of his family and friends.
Nowadays, we the Arabs who live by the side of the last racist country in the world, Israel, must learn so many lessons from this great leader. Mandela demonstrated his greatness over and over throughout history by taking sides with the Palestinians against the Israeli racist acts, and by condemning the invasion of Iraq. His brave and human stands towards the Arab causes shall never be disregarded by history, nor shall the Arabs forget this leader ever.
Mandela’s life remains an attestation of the consistent struggle to attain the human freedom and a motive for everyone to search for the goodness everywhere even inside the hearts of our enemies. One learns that the walk to freedom is a long one and that the battle for love and happiness is the same battle for freedom.
Meanwhile, Mandela shall forever be alive in our memories as the icon of human struggle against oppression and domination. And his words shall be a source of hope to continue pursuing our goals and our struggle for our dignity and for a better tomorrow.