Few days ago the world celebrated the life of a man who illustrated to the world and South Africa the core values of leadership, love, respect and togetherness. Mandela was honored as established in 2009 in order to encourage South Africans to emulate, cultivate and sustain Mandela’s humanitarian legacy. Thus on his birthday 18th July, South Africa witnessed 67 minutes of charity and community action all over the country, As volunteers handed out blankets and books, distributed toys at orphanages, and cleaned up public areas, before reporting their activities on social media.
Sadly, 67 minutes of good deeds is too short a time to compensate for the everyday bad deed in South Africa. We need much more time devoted to charity and community action which is not forthcoming. It is really unfortunate for even the South African Christians who pride themselves as people of good deeds and hastily reckon Mandela as a man who shared their faith have to wait for the next 18th July to demonstrate the humanitarian service Mandela spearheaded through-out his life time
Jacob Zuma was once heavily rebuked when he allegedly attributed the social troubles of South Africa and Africa at large to the Christian faith. Irrespective of the widespread criticism Zuma received then, he was actually right at least to certain extent in blaming Christianity. For Christians are clearly not who they claim to be. Unlike Mandela, many South African Christians have contributed to the discord in South Africa, and have endorsed hate crimes when they are not perpetrators of such crimes.
Although it has been documented that Mandela was raised into the Methodist denomination of Christianity, with the Methodist Church of Southern Africa claiming that he retained his allegiance to them throughout his life, it’s most likely that Mandela was never a Christian. Hence, as Mandela’s legacy was celebrated, it becomes imperative to remind the Christian community especially those in South Africa why Mandela was so much unlike most of the Christians in South Africa.
1. Mandela Was All About Love and Respect
Unlike most Christians in South Africa who have no regards, love or respect for their fellow country men, who participated and refused to rebuke xenophobic attack, who dismiss news of farm attacks as deserving, and constantly confront social issues with racial abuse and unfair accusations, Mandela stood for fostering racial reconciliation and togetherness. He stood for equality and exemplified it for the whole word to see. To Mandela, it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white or colored. All that ever mattered to him was for we all to see ourselves as equal. He was typically friendly and welcoming with everyone including his opponents.
2. He Exemplified Forgiveness
These relates most to the black Christian community in South Africa. How long are you going to be grieve for apartheid crimes? How long are you going to hate and blame the whites for your misfortunes? Isn’t it past time to move on and forget apartheid? If Mandela who spent 27 years in prison forgave those that imprisoned him, what reasons could be holding you all back from moving on? It’s really disappointing to see acclaimed Christians excusing inhumane crimes as a pay-back for apartheid.
3. Mandela Illustrated True Leadership
Many a times, Christians have metaphorically regarded themselves as “the light of the world” suggesting that they were meant to lead the world at large to greatness. Yet in their everyday activities and even among their gatherings they have in many scenarios shown that they are bunch of blind leaders who are clueless about the importance of unity and integration. However Mandela was, and is remembered as a light to freedom, justice, and fairness which are all core values of true leadership.
4. He Was An Ordinary Man
Mandela once said “I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.” Little wonder he made his own bed even as President, was friendly and welcoming, constantly polite and courteous, attentive to all irrespective of age or status, often talked to children or servants and always looked for the best in people even to the extent of defending political opponents to his allies, who sometimes thought him too trusting of others. How many Christians in South Africa can be described with these qualities?
5. He Was Willing To Die For A Better South Africa
Christians introduce themselves as followers of Jesus Christ who died to redeem them. But none of these Christians is willing to follow this life style save for Mandela who accepted to die for South Africans. In a speech, Mandela said “during my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.
From the foregoing, its obvious that Mandela is unlike the “typical Christians” we have today who are clueless of who they are and what they claim to be. Mandela was never a Christian like most of the Christian living today, he was a better specimen and if he was truly a christian, then it would be an insult to him to call some certain people in the society Christians too.