‘Mandela needs to be re-invoked’
New Delhi – Nelson Mandela, the world’s anti-apartheid icon and South Africa’s first non-white president who died earlier this month, need not just be remembered but re-invoked in context of the times in his country and the world, leading Indian personalities said here.
Tribute were paid to Mandela at an event organised here Friday evening by the India International Centre.
The session began with Africa Club of Bluebells school students asking Mandela in song “to leave his mark on the sands of time”. The tributes in their honesty also dwelt on the icon’s failures, or the tasks he could not achieve in his lifetime.
“I hope the Indian government will put out a hand to South Africa because it is Madiba’s (as Mandela is called in South Africa) country, said writer and economist Devaki Jain.
Recalling most of all Mandela’s engaging smile, and him as “a person with immediate love for people on the street”, Jain said the icon was troubled by what he saw in South Africa after he leftthe presidency in a context of big challenges like unemployment and miners’ strikes.
“He kept away from the strife and did good things like foundations for helping children like the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund,” Jain added.
“He could change people, could change an entire people,” said Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, India’s former high commissioner to South Africa who knew Mandela personally. He quoted Mandela’s well known saying about not judging him by what he had achieved “but by the times he had fallen and then picked himself up again”.
Mkhululi Mankazana, Minister Counsellor at the South African High Commission here, who was among the angry young at the time of South Africa’s movement for independence in the early nineties, said: “We saw in Mandela a leader who gave most importance to building a nation.”
Mkhululi recounted how, when the youth went violent at the killing of an African National Congress leader, Mandela addressed the nation on television pointing out that it was a white woman who provided details toidentity the white assailant, which helped curb further violence.
Giving an insight into Mandela the human being who resisted attempts to make him into a saint, former attorney general Soli Sorabji recounted the time when one of Mandela’s executive orders was struck down by the country’s highest court to which Mandela admitted: “It shows that I got this one wrong.”
M G K Menon, a leadings scientist, in his capacity as a trustee of the India International Centre, proposed the word “Madiba” be added to the Gandhi-King Memorial Plaza at the centre. The plaza is presentlly named after Mahatma Gandhi and US civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
“This will make it the three apostles of peace in our times,” Menon said.