Are there Mandelas among us?

Saturday, December 07, 2013    

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Dear Editor,

There is a lesson for Jamaica to learned from the life of Nelson Mandela. Mandela placed the unity of his country over and above personal offences irrespective of how serious they were. In so doing he was able to overlook racial oppression, to overlook the indignity of racial prejudice, to overlook the murder of friends and associates together with his own incarceration for 27 years in the prime of his life, all at the hands of white South Africans.

In the end he created a unified South Africa, transforming an economically backward country teetering on the edge of civil war in the decade of the 90s, to one of the dominant societies of today.

Why then should our age-old conflict between the People's National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party assume so much importance to the point where members of either party place the scoring of petty political points over and above the long-term interests of Jamaica? Why then should the last Jamaica Labour Party leadership contest end in so much acrimony between persons on either side of the Shaw-Holness divide as well the uncommitted? Why does the winning of elections by JLP and PNP not

enrich Jamaica?

Mandela wore the T shirt of the formerly white-dominated South Africa rugby team, since then transforming it to a multiracial side now known as the All Blacks. Mandela sang the Afrikaaner or white South African anthem. Mandela befriended and engaged his white jailhouse governor to the point where when the governor resigned he personally shook the hands of all the prisoners before leaving office. Mandela created a truth and reconciliation commission which effectively papered over the thorny issue of repayment for all the murder of black South Africans by whites South Africans. Nelson Mandela stepped aside from leadership of his country when he might have continued.

For us the questions abound. Is there any cross too difficult for any of us to bear in order to transform our dysfunctional and backward society? Is there any cross too much for us to bear in preventing the murder and bloodshed in our society today? Where are the Mandelas amongst us?

It is time. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated around the time of Jamaica's Independence. He has since come out of prison, led his country, resigned from office, and is now dead. Through one man's lifetime he achieved so much, yet through the life of our entire nation we have little to show. It is time Jamaica, it is time. We must master the tools. They are humility, mutual respect, genuine love for each other, and the willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice if necessary by offering our lives for the good of this country.

Clive Stewart





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