The Giant of the Continent Rests
God chooses the hardest battles for the strongest soldiers…’
Me Firi Ghana is proud of its Ghanaian heritage. We do our best to profile the best of what we feel is the greatest country in the greatest continent on Earth, Ghana. However, late on the evening of December 5th 2013, a giant of our continent fell, and the resulting shockwaves have run through all four corners of the Earth. We acknowledge greatness. We must recognise the passage to glory of the Grandfather of Africa – President Nelson Mandela.
‘Mandela served his nation & Africa well. We have lost an icon in the liberation struggle & an illustrious son of our continent.’ – President John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana
I personally grew up amongst the backdrop of the fading embers of the Apartheid battle – a Rainbow Nation rising from the rubble of apartheid. And yet, amidst all the wondrous goings-on in this land far far away, there was one man at the centre of it all. The image of a former prisoner of the state, being crowned the first black President of a nation where white & black had clashed for so long, was amongst the first evoking images of my life. My love affair with South Africa led me to soak in the travails of this great man. In a city where young black boys tended to take less deserving people as role models, I sought to drench myself in the dew of the works of a truly great man.
Over my formative years, I learned about a young, handsome man who had struggled from his tribal village to set up his own Law Firm. A man who fought against poverty, and also fought daily against the injustices of a broken & corrupt racial system. I learnt about a man whose heart began to burn with fierce purpose to bring down a sorry regime which held his people bound. A man who became a leader of men. A man who was, in his own words, ‘prepared to die’ for a noble cause – a dream of harmony; a vision of a rainbow nation.
Don’t allow his battles to be romanticised. Mandela’s time in Robben Island was one of truly horrifying mental and physical torture. Sentenced to never touch his wife again, to never be able to hold his children again; sentenced to never be free again – the figurative shackles of Apartheid becoming tangible and real.
Nelson Mandela is a bona-fide legend, and I purposely use present-tense. Always smiling, yet speaking with an authority and conviction which could capture the coldest hearts, he has been a living, breathing monument of greatness for my whole life. His story & his life has resonated deeply with me. He has been a man I have looked up to immensely for as long as I can remember. I have taken pride in the fact that he is a Son of Africa, a Father to the Nations.
As President Obama said in his address to the world following Mandela’s death, Madiba’s long walk to freedom showed many of us ‘what human beings can do when they are guided by their hopes, rather than their fears.’ We thank God that He gave Madiba the grace to live a life longer than most, to be able to enjoy freedom & a mostly united South Africa for more years than anyone could ever have anticipated.
I wonder who the hero of our generation will be? That superhero in humble everyday clothing? Whoever God has chosen, whatever God has planned, one thing we know for sure is that we have lost a courageous, noble, and good man – it has been a true blessing to have been able to share our world with him. But now, he belongs to the ages.
Today, as Ghanaians, we say ‘Mandela. Demirifa Due’. As Africans, we say ‘Farewell, Tata Madiba’.
The Giant of the Continent Rests.
Jermaine Bamfo @Dr_Jabz27