By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
INTERNATIONAL – All of humanity continues to be irreversibly uplifted by the indefatigable leadership and irrepressible spirit of Nelson Mandela.
South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC), as well as all people throughout the world should pause with the greatest of respect,t while “Madiba” is still alive to express the highest tribute to him for a lifetime of achievement and commitment to worldwide freedom, justice, equality, empowerment and human dignity.
African Americans and all African people in particular are so inspired by the perseverance and bold courageous example of Nelson Mandela, who not only helped to lead the dismantlement of apartheid in South Africa, but also he continues today to stand at the age of 93 as a global role model and force for progressive change, moral integrity and equal justice for all.
In short, Mandela represents the best wisdom-consciousness for the affirmation of the oneness of humanity. Even after spending 27 years imprisoned unjustly by a brutally vicious apartheid regime, Mandela came out of prison with the strength and insight to lead South Africa nonviolently into a multiracial democracy and a growing emerging world economy.
While we live in a world where millions of people on each continent are crying out louder and louder by the hour for an end to poverty, injustice and inequality, the Mandela-leadership example of social transformation that transcends race, ethnicity, tribe, religion and political ideology needs to be highlighted and better understood.
In fact, the ANC continues to have a long tradition and legacy of leadership icons that first and foremost strive to represent the interests of the masses of African people who struggle for a better quality of life. It is so sad today that in many other places in the international community, some rulers use violence and war to suppress the cries of the masses of the people for freedom, democracy and justice.
The recent news that Mandela was hospitalized should engender our prayers of support and concern for his health, as well as our meditation and reflections on his outstanding legacy of leadership.
We are pleased that Mandela was just released from the hospital and is now recovering at home from hernia surgery. South African President Zuma reported that Mandela was stable and resting. Again our prayers are with him and his family.
Here in the United States, the 2012 national elections season appears to be focused on who has the most money in politics over against the best leadership to offer the nation and global community progress on the critical issues.
Of course, America is not South Africa. That is not the point. The point is that while billions of dollars are being spent to hijack the democratic process in the United States, we should learn valuable lessons from how Mandela and the ANC were guided successfully by principles of inclusive, participatory democracy verses the voter suppressive moves and exclusivist views of those who want a backwardly divided and regressive future America.
Those of us in Occupy the Dream embrace both the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. and the democratic wisdom of Nelson Mandela.
We will soon be in the South to recognize the anniversary of the voting rights struggle in Selma, Alabama, with the annual retracing of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma for the March to Montgomery, Alabama, that witnessed the horrible consequence of those who would go to any extent to deny the voting rights of Blacks and others.
We have come a long ways since the original Selma voting rights march back in 1965. But we must renew our vigor and commitment to achieve more progress toward making our democracy more equal and just. Income inequality is increasing the ranks of those in poverty. We need a Constitutional Amendment to get money out of politics in America.
We should work to build a global movement for economic justice and equality.
Thank G-d for Mandela. When we last had the opportunity to meet with him in person in Maputo several years ago, Mandela encouraged us to help increase worldwide awareness that Africa needs empowerment through education, training, employment and economic development.
We salute Nelson Mandela for all that he continues to do to make Africa and the world a better place. Let’s also work harder now in America to further transform our society and to make our democracy representative of all of the people.
(Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is President of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and Education Online Services Corporation, as well as serving as the National Director of Occupy the Dream and can be reached at email@example.com.)