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The historical role of Nelson Mandela: interview with Dr Jean-Florent Makaya

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela, Focus on Africa did an interview with Dr Jean-Florent Makaya, former lecturer in the University of Birmingham.

Dr Makaya, what do you think about Nelson Mandela, the first black President of South Africa?

«The late president Nelson Mandela was an exceptional son of Africa, a man of substance who loved Africa and the Africans. When you analyse the initials of his party (ANC), you will see that he put his continent before his nation. It’s A firstly for African (his continent Africa), then N for national (his nation South Africa); finally, C for Congress, a congress that brings all Africans together, including the South Africans. You see he was a real panafricanist, a visionary who indeed lived his panafricanist and national vision. I haven’t seen an African leader so loved and respected».

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself 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 live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”. These are the famous words that Mandela said during the Rivonia trial. Can you kindly tell us your opinion about this speech?

«These words from Madiba himself confirmed what I have just said above. A man who loved his continent first. His longlife fight was for all Africans, to ensure that everyone among mother Africa’s children will experience freedom in every area of human life: political freedom, economic freedom, physical and mental freedom, justice, etc. He spent 27 years of his life in prison for that cause. That’s the testimony of a man of integrity, a selfless man, who all he had in mind were the interest of others. How great! I can’t resist but be proud of him. He was a great politician, not the modern African politician so called, who is characterised by selfishness, robbery (of the nation’s resources – kleptomaniacs), the imprisonment of others with different views, etc. President Mandela was unique. My prayer is that for which he fought for will come to pass. My generation may not see it, as there are still many undignified sons of Africa at the head of our nations who, instead of following the vision of Madiba for the mother land and carry out the legacy he left, prefer to dwell into mediocrity, ruining every opportunity we have to move forward as a continent. But I have hope that my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will experience president Mandela’s dream, which is quite similar to Dr Martin Luther King’s».

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