By Heritier Mesa
Watching the whole world gathered together in grief to mourn and pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, I felt a deep desire to stop for a while and reflect upon his legacy to this world. Ever since, one question keeps striking my mind with insistence: what exactly did this almost centenarian man do to the world to be such an inspiration for billions of people around the world? It is precisely such unanimity of voices from people of all over the world, people from different religions, races, colors, ideologies, which reminds us that Mandela was not merely a political icon in a certain part of the world, but a symbol, or rather an incarnation of one of our deepest desires: the longing for true humanity.
From different tributes paid to Mandela, one word keeps coming back: his humanity. Indeed, for his relatives and long-date comrades, Mandela was not an extraordinary person, nor did his commitment for justice, peace and reconciliation come out of a mystical experience. Rather, as would say the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, this was a fruit of a personal and consistent choice for a life of dignity, in few words, for a life worth for human.
As for each one of us, we will remember Mandela as a man who showed to the world what it takes to be profoundly a human being. In fact, the greatest merit of Mandela is not much about how he tirelessly fought against the racist and segregationist system of apartheid in South Africa. The greatest merit of Mandela, as one could see in the outcome of the reconciliation in the post-apartheid period, is that he was able to bring the good out of humanity. His faith in humanity, indeed, led him through a true reconciliation to give to each one a chance to do better, and to become a better human. It is never too late to get back to the right-side of history. Truly, we all can do better if we give to one another a chance to correct our mistakes and overcome our boundaries.
The real issue, as Mandela understood it, was not about a black and white battle, or an oppressed and oppressor dialectic. “Nothing is really black and white in this world”, would he say. The problem about any kind of racism or segregation in this world is all about humanity. Indeed, from the very moment we recognize ourselves as human beings, we have to acknowledge that nothing that is truly human can be stranger to us. As humans we thus learn to appreciate and love one another, no matter how we look like, where we are coming from or what we like. It is in this very condition that we will be able to build-up a truly human community.
This, in a sense, was the dream of Mandela, a dream that we too ought to keep alive as we remember him. We have to be bridges where people come across boundaries and differences to build a better world where everyone has equal opportunities, equal dignity, and equal right to love, despite his/her race, culture or preferences. Let us be reminded with Mandela that “sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation.”