I still remember when I was a child and Pakistan Television was the only TV channel available at that time, in the 9:00 pm Urdu news (Khabarnama) there was quite often mentioning of the name Nelson Mandela and his fight for getting the equal rights for black skinned people living in South Africa. Time kept moving on. I also came to know that due to the extreme level of racism in South Africa their sports teams were not allowed to participate in any international event, i.e. Cricket world cup, Soccer world cup, Olympic Games etc.
I moved to Australia in 2010. Here I got an opportunity of working in with RailCorp New South Wales as a Project Engineer. Sunil Mistry was my very nice and friendly colleague. From his name I had an idea that he was from India. One day Sunil surprised me by telling that his origin was India but he and his parental family spent their time in South Africa for many years before migrating to Australia. As mentioned above, I always had heard a lot about the South African apartheid (racism). I asked Sunil about the reality based on his personal experience. Sunil told me that there was such a high level of racism in South Africa that at every place they used to have three types of public toilets, one for the white skinned, second for the migrated Indian origin people, and third and the worst quality ones for the black people.
Sunil also mentioned that except garbage collectors and street cleaners, no black person was allowed to enter the central business district in Cape Town and other cities. Any black found in those areas was immediately arrested and fined.
5 December 2013 was a shocking day for the whole world. Nelson Mandela’s death news made everyone sad. He was the person who started his struggle in South Africa. He was born on 18th of July 1918. He served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was South Africa’s first black chief executive, and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation.
Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. He spent 27 years in prison, out of which 6 years in isolation (قید تنہائی). An international campaign lobbied for his release. He was released in 1990, during a time of escalating civil strife. Mandela joined negotiations with President F. W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory and became South Africa’s first black president.
Unlike Pakistani politicians who always want to rule and damage the country, he did not like to be elected as the president of South Africa for the second term and became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
During his life, he gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the SovietOrder of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata (“Father”); he is often described as “the father of the nation”.
He followed principles of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) after getting the rule and did not take any revenge from those who had made his life like hell. He forgave every one of them. He kept eligible white skinned people in his staff and brought them closer to the black skinned people. Due to his efforts South Africa held the Cricket world cup and their teams were allowed to participate in all international sporting events.
Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood village of Qunu today (Sunday, the 15th of December 2013) marking the end of an exceptional journey for the prisoner turned president who transformed South Africa.
I wish that our Muslim, especially Pakistani, leaders could learn from Madiba that how they can earn respect in this world.