Much has happened since Nelson Mandela’s passing, and none of it is good. In Mandiba’s absence the “Rainbow Nation” he so valiantly struggled to build has turned decidedly gray.
The magnificent vision of Africa’s great statesman has been selfishly squandered and corrupted by the lesser men that unfortunately succeeded him.
The current incumbent of South Africa’s presidency, Jacob Zuma, being the most egregious. Zuma has eroded the institutions of government (both the constitution and the checks-and-balances of democracy) by his flaunting display of self-interest, corruption and tribal cronyism; all in his effort to protect his illicit financial gains by using that nation’s treasury as his personal piggy bank.
Alas, I anticipated this. In the closing chapter of my South African themed novel The Zebra Affaire I wrote the following as a final coda:
But former prisoner Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela had no desire to become a sovereign: he relinquished the power voluntarily—so refreshing on a continent where provincial tyrants strive to rule forever.
But here I remain fearful (though I dearly hope to be proven wrong). Mandela was the nation’s talisman—his very presence held the various peoples of South Africa on a rainbow path of dignity and equality, and by his noble example all tribal rivalries were set aside and all were welcomed at the table.
But now he’s gone, I fear the quiet vow of loyalty to his vision of a united South Africa will be abrogated. With Mandela no longer living, lesser mortals will not feel bound by any allegiance to the “Father of the Nation”; instead, in a lust for power, they will once again unleash the tribal tensions that have forever plagued the continent.