Madiba's hero status earned

HARARE - I sat there in Qunu in the serene atmosphere of the Eastern Cape as the world bade goodbye to one of the greatest icons ever to grace this Earth.

While I had signed the condolence book and attended a memorial service in Harare, I felt that was not enough to match the magnitude of Mandela’s impact on democratic struggles not only in Africa but in the world.

I felt it was only befitting that I pay my last respects and witness this great man being laid to rest in his own village and among his people.

That is why I left Zimbabwe on Saturday morning to be with many others, including his family and colleagues in the struggle, at this sad moment for the world.

As they buried him in his village, away from the splendour of the cities and towns, it dawned on me that true hero status is not conferred.

True hero status is earned and never conferred.

We may sit as a motley group in our puny political entities, claiming that we are “giving” or “conferring” hero status on individuals, but Madiba’s example is that people earn their hero status in their lifetime through the work they do for their communities and their countries.

Hero status is too great to be conferred posthumously by a motley group of individuals in a boardroom.

Heroism pronounces itself through the work individuals do for the people and the impact of that work can neither be furthered nor diminished by anyone.

In 2007, I spent one of the most fruitful two hours of my life in a frank discussion with Madiba over the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe to which he pledged to play his part in making the leadership of this country “see sense.”

Unfortunately, his health deteriorated before executing his pledge.

Throughout his life, he was not only preoccupied with the pursuit of liberation and freedom in South Africa but in the rest of humankind and he was clearly touched by how those who had started on a promising note had now disappointed the millions in Zimbabwe.

It is sad that he has been laid to rest when our country is in a sorrier state especially after the stolen vote of July 2013.

Mandela was the only evidence among many of Africa’s old statesmen that indeed age comes with wisdom.

The evidence some of us have had to brave in our own countries is that sometimes age comes alone, without any iota of wisdom and unaccompanied by any shred of statecraft or competence.

Madiba’s legacy transcended race, tribe and nationality. It remains a rich legacy for the entirety of humankind.

He left a legacy of true nation-building and the rainbow nation was a great attempt at creating a multi-racial and a multi-ethnic society.

We have to live together despite our differences and that is why the Madiba moment inspired the rest of the world.

For us in the MDC, he taught us the sanctity of unarmed combat as an effective means of fighting oppression.

Yes, it is possible to fight repression and oppression with nothing but your bare hands as long as you carry with you the unstinting belief that your struggle is just.

For many decades, Mandela fought oppression and the sceptics thought a free South Africa would not come but it eventually did in 1994.

So too do we have sceptics in Zimbabwe who think that a mere 14 years of the democratic struggle has been too long a time and the MDC is now dead and buried because democratic change has not been achieved since we formed this great party in 1999.

If Madiba was of the same sceptical mind, he would have quit the struggle in the 1940s and 1950s but he persevered and democracy came within his lifetime in 1994.

The ANC was formed in 1912, but democracy was achieved after 82 years.

So the MDC is still on course, and in our case, change will come far much earlier and we will definitely achieve it in our lifetime.

Some may perish along the way, but those who remain will continue with the struggle until democracy is achieved in Zimbabwe.

Madiba taught us that no matter how long it takes, the struggle will have to continue until positive change is achieved.

The lesson is that we may stumble upon some impediments and frustrations in the pursuit of a national dream, but no impediment should be allowed to derail the collective aspirations of a determined people.

And I know Zimbabweans are a determined people.

I left Qunu on Sunday afternoon, not with any sense of mourning whatsoever, but with a sense of celebration of Madiba’s legacy and the lessons we draw from his tenacity and resolve to fight for the true liberation of an oppressed people.

That such a great revolutionary came from a remote village in Qunu is enough inspiration to many Africans in remote villages on our great continent.

We learn that greatness has no relationship to background or place of origin.

Greatness lies in us as individuals and not in our backgrounds or the places we come from.

Madiba may have died, but we in the MDC will retain the same unstinting commitment to fight for change, freedom and democracy in the country of our birth.

It is a daunting challenge that he leaves us but yes, the change that the people want will be achieved in Zimbabwe.

At a personal level, I have lost an inspiring figure.

Madiba, you leave us a daunting task but we pledge to continue with the fight against repression until positive change is achieved.

May your life and your rich legacy continue to inspire the world.

*Tsvangirai is the president of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Comments (13)

Shoko tarihwa Save tinozviziva gwendo gwurefu chose kuti tisvika Canaan . Hatifi tarasha mbereko nokuti ZANU PF yakaNikuva maelections

MukarangawekuMberengwa - 18 December 2013

A puppet will always remain a puppet you tsvangirai what was stolen from you on 31 july 2013 people rejected you and you clamouring for change will come far much earlier and we will definetly achieve it in our lifetime please ndanzwa mabayo nokuseka kuti please vanhu vemdc t batai benzi renyu hero roenda nemwenje mudziva

Colonel - 18 December 2013

Imagine President Mugabe wrting a piece in a tabloid singing praising to a South African hero. To some of us Mandela was no hero he sold out just like what Morgan tried to do. The people rejected you on 31 July and they will continue rejecting you till you die.

Godfrey Gudo - 18 December 2013

@colonel. kkkkkkkkk nhai koronel ukati dzako dzakakwana here.

Bruno - 18 December 2013

@Gudo. Once a baboon, always a baboon. You're just a demented CIO idiot!

pozo - 18 December 2013

The sad thing is that the ZANU PF induced/copied tribalism that is in Tswangirayi will never leave him to allow him, in the Mandela Madiba fashion of nationa building, to engage his political opponents in Matebeleland strictly on ISSUES, as opposed to where they come from, or what language they speak. This language of "regionalists"; "Village politician" etc, etc is simply not what one would expect from Mandela; not even the word "racists", in reference to his white political opponents. Everything about Mandela was about issues; thats why he won the presidential debate against FW De Klerk!!!

NKALAKATHA!! - 18 December 2013

In learning so much from Mandela, do people practice or emulate his deeds? If so remember Mandela served for one term and left. How many Presidents have sought to extend their terms of office and respect their own constitutions from Party level to Government level? Lets practice and implement what we claim to have learnt from Mandela.

Kambiri - 18 December 2013

We have learnt a lot from Madiba but let us not forget that liberation is not a word out of dream like loto we have to work hard for it.Power is so sweet that some believe that noone even god himself can manage to do what they are doing or trying to do right now.Mandela did right for the South Africans and the world over we salute him .

rice - 19 December 2013

Which South Africans did Mandela serve well. Do you mean those whites with plush homes or the black man who sleeps in the sreets, the one with no access to a decent life. Yes, Mandela did well, to the multi-million dollar corporates who stole South African wealth for many years, whilst the small black man is only celebrating a black president, and nothing more. Why is Mandela's heroism sang about more loudly in London and Washington than in Soweto?

machakachaka - 19 December 2013

@machakachaka Please get rid of your gukurawundi ZANU PF narrow mindedness. Why do you people always see everything in terms of race? Is that the only way you think you remain relevant in today's politics? What has Mandela's heroism got to do with the apartheid created black poverty and deprivation? You must know that Mandela was released when he was well over his 70s. At this age how do you expect him to have reversed the consequences of over a 100 years of colonialism and partheid in just 4 years (the 5th year Thabo Mbeki was effective in charge)? In Vilakazi street in Soweto, there was more dancing, mourning and music for days on end than in your London and Washington. You are merely parrotting you Gukurahundi ZANU PF masters line because Mandela eclipsed your useless Gukurahundi street thug Mugabe. You cannot change history, accept it - Mugabe is history. Now almost 90, he will never recover from his present sorry state; finish and klaar. All hope is lost Goodbye to him!!!

NKALAKATHA - 19 December 2013

Uyo anonzi Colonel ndiyo mharapatsteste yemunhu,hw can u speak like munhu asingazive kudaro.Tsvangirai is no sellout and if there is any sellout it is u and Zanu pf party.Old pple who preside over an ailing economy whose majority age is !9 yet RG is 90,zvinemusoro izvozvo zvokuti nyika itongwe ne harahwa ivo varume vanedzakakwana varipo.Shame on u Colonel

scandals - 20 December 2013

Thanks to the triumphs of Robert Mogabe, Zimbaweans are now the Leading Edge of politics on the entire Afrcan Continent. If Mogabe was crowned King of Zimbabwe he will be the only monarch that is highly educated, erudite, clean-living, and dignified. In any event he has no equal as the Greatest Patriot and Hero .

Dharma Appavoo - 20 December 2013

Morgan Tsvangirai is an amorphous and pathetic mass of unpatriotic and traitorous adipose tissue ...... willing to march in locked step with the deposed White Farmers.

Dharma Appavoo - 21 December 2013

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