Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Nelson Mandela: Remembering and Honoring an African Hero


Nelson Mandela

As the world remembers our genuine African hero, my initial observation of the public reflections and commentary prompts me to reference an earlier piece about our beloved Nelson Mandela.

One of the tragedies of the Disneyfication of Nelson Mandela as a global icon is that so many people appear to be missing the historical analysis and conviction that undergirded Mandela’s contribution to the anti-apartheid freedom struggle. Mandela offered a part of this analysis during his statement during the historic 1964 Rivonia Trial.

Nelson Mandela will be remembered for many different reasons.  Some aspect of his life, indeed some clip from his many speeches and writings, will be used as justification for one or another point of view someone is trying to advance.  I get it.  That's what people do.  And thus, this and previous posts of my own.  Ideas are powerful, especially when they find their way into the values, sensibilities and behaviors of people and institutions.

For those who are so inclined, however, I encourage you to do your own study and learn from Mandela's full example. Most of all, please don't seek easy comfort in the lazy postracialist remaking of a man who didn't exist.  Let your study be your tribute to the man so many of us respect and honor.

Nelson Mandela was and remains an African revolutionary who fought for a fundamentally transformed social, political and economic order in the country he loved so much.  Moreover, he advocated for the same throughout the world.  As one person, he couldn't singularly achieve all of this.  But his life is an example of the possibilities, and the inevitable challenges, that come with such a life mission.  His example should ultimately be viewed and appreciated within the longer arc of African history, indeed the history of this world.

Nelson Mandela fought with the time, talent and resources at his disposal.  He adjusted his strategies as he learned, analyzed and reflected.  And most importantly, at all points along the way, he worked and fought alongside others of like mind.

Our struggle is one of a marathon and a relay... we have to appreciate our role within a larger collective and along a journey far longer than our lifetime.  It seems this is one of the lessons we can take from his life.

We celebrate Nelson Mandela, today and everyday, as his example will always be with us.  Indeed his spirit, and the spirits of all of our revolutionary ancestors, will forever guide us.


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