Today I was up early, to give Emotions, Diary of a victim: It’s a men’s world #2 a try at editing. It’s my memoir and the first time letting my story be known. In hopes, it gets to save even one life, and give hope to someone. After breaking down through just one chapter, I decided to give it a break, leaving it for tomorrow. Too much mushiness and emotional confusion for one day!
Off to YouTube I went and landed on a video commemorating the beloved Nelson H. Madiba Mandela. In it, his former bodyguard recounted times with the humble former, and first-ever, black and democratically elected president South Africa. Two incidents he enumerated and went back to stick in my mind. They started with a somewhat emotional realization.
He spoke of the time soon after Mandela was released from prison(Robin Island), and he (the bodyguard), was appointed as part of his protection detail. This is after the first democratic elections and Mandela was the ruling President. He mentioned, specifically, how the African National Congress (ANC), under Mandela, then incorporated some of the apartheid police officers into his presidential detail. This was quite bold and questionable, or even infuriating, if you ask me. The bodyguard thought so too. And many others, apparently, obviously.
In brief, he mentioned how they had problems integrating at first, but then, with time, they became brethren in the same cause: A united and peaceful South Africa. “They even came to Soweto, so we could know each other better”, he said. He highlighted how Mandela literally gave them, both sides, the former oppressor and the formerly oppressed, no choice but to learn to co-exist and work together.
That’s when it hit me, how we have lost the teachings and dream Mandela had. Not only for South Africa and black people, but for humankind. He saw what most of us still fail to see…. That peace is better than war. Unlike ‘Karen’s in the wild’ who see no color by bias, he saw no color for equality and existence.
Besides preaching in his popular teachings of forgiveness and acceptance, he showed us how. By his first simple, yet deep act of including his former oppressors in his team. To protect him, when they used to seek his blood. To help him rebuild the nation as one. He showed that it was better to resolve things amicably, by mutual understanding, without the need to spill blood or hatred. It is better to shake hands with your enemy than to always check over your shoulder.
How did we miss it? That valuable lesson, to its full meaning and application? It would have made us better people.
It pains my heart that our way of life, race, politics, and religion preach the opposite of this. Mandela sought a world where humans treat each other equally and with respect and love, without any biases. Just being human to others, because you are human too. No color segregation, no societal class demarcations, no gender biases, no inequality. Just humans co-existing and making life better for the whole. I am sure a lot of people despised his move and sought blood, for blood lost. But Madiba knew blood only births war and hatred. Why seek revenge and start another war, when you can forgive and fix what was broken. Progress. Look at our world today!
Speaking of gender, it brings me to the second thing that stuck to mind. Mandela, at one point, per his former bodyguard’s recount, was about to appear for a speech, and the bodyguard had to dismiss a female who was present. In light of time and schedules. He said the former president immediately cautioned him on how he had addressed and handled her. Specifically mentioning that was not how to treat or speak to a woman. To which the bodyguard responded by saying it was in the line of duty and necessity. The former President then told him, he always had something to say every time when being corrected. Advising him, to learn to just give an ear at times.
From this, I read two major lessons. The first, being obvious, that he addressed. No matter the circumstances and situation, or the person and stature, there is never a justification for mistreating or woman (a woman). Anger, reactions of the moment, or any other given reason, can never justify the ill-treatment of women. Some of which, usually, translates to abuse. A woman does get angry too but has not the right to raise a hand. Yet, for their anger and expression, they will receive more hidings. In all situations, if matters were reversed, would you say it was okay for a woman to hit a man? For cheating? For taking them for granted? For lying? For being disrespectful? For anything, really?
How come, then, it is justifiable and acceptable, even excusable when it’s men that perpetrate? Mandela, despite not being governed by the current constitution we have, knew, it was only right, to treat, even women, right!
The second lesson I got out of this, one which brought me warmth, and to tears, was the clear message we all still sing. ‘WOMEN MATTER’, and should be treated with respect. He was an advocate for women’s rights and equalities well before we had a constitution that catered for everyone. He knew, by his nature, culture, and background. “Umntu, ngumntu ngabantu” (a person is a person because of people). All people, all genders included, make up a people, a nation, a society–a kind! A true leader, Mandela was true.
I really think we need to see and hear more of Madiba’s teachings and dreams, as well as those of similar-minded great teachers. We have a lot to learn and correct from.