Emulate Mandela, imbibe the spirit of forgiveness, justice and fair play — Kalu tells African Leaders
Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has urged African leaders to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness, justice and fair play which the late South African former President, Nelson Mandela was known for.
The former Governor of Abia State made the call on Thursday while delivering a lecture during the 10th Nelson Mandela International Day celebration, which held at the University of Abuja.
Eulogising the late African leader, Kalu said Mandela was an outstanding champion of human freedom and liberty, an anti-apartheid crusader who sacrificed the best years of his life to secure the emancipation of his people from the degradation and humiliation of inferiority status imposed on them by a wicked, hateful, abominable and lawless regime.
He said Mandela was not just a revolutionary leader, adding that his record of philanthropic commitment to not only South Africans, but to citizens of many other nations around the world was quite exceptional.
“He taught the world the meaning and essence of humility, forgiveness, acceptance, perseverance and tolerance not through precepts, but through an incredible force of personal example that probably has no parallel in human history.
“As a prisoner at Rhodes Island, Mandela brought to bear on his terrible and negative experience, exemplary and positive qualities of discipline, endurance, patience, hope, fortitude and remarkable stoicism.
“The Nobel Prize winner who became the first democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa at the age of 77, retired after only a single tenure in office in 1999, setting a challenging example to other depraved African leaders who turned their offices into imperial bastions of maladministration, oppression of their own people and corruption.
“Madiba’s quest for comprehensive emancipation that encompassed political, mental, economic and physical dimensions led him to embark on charitable engagements, raising stupendous sums of money for schools, hospitals, sporting activities for the benefit of the desperately deprived black communities of South Africa.
“His hunger for the freedom of South Africa, somehow, became the hunger for the freedom of all, irrespective of their tribe, colour and religion. He took on a campaign that set the leadership bar for African leaders and Africa’s leadership.
“I am a beneficiary of Mandela’s mentorship. I would say that God specially created the great man to tutor and shape me into responsible, industrious and disciplined man with a commitment to the welfare of my people and to humanity in general,” Kalu said.
Kalu revealed that as a politician and businessman, he met Mandela on several occasions, confessing that he inspired him a lot.
“He introduced me to the leaders of the great African National Congress (ANC), with whom I have maintained a very robust relationship. Through him, I met with President Thabo Mbeki, who is now a dear friend and a brother. I also met President Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe, former National Secretary of ANC who held sway for six months following the decision of the ruling party to ask President Mbeki to step aside.
“Of course, I met President Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa who is now tasked with the responsibility of leading the great vision that Mandela had for South Africa. Nothing can demonstrate the level of intimacy I enjoy with Mandela’s family than the warm treatment I get from the matriarch of the house, Gracia, each time I visited. She always ensured that I lacked nothing and that I felt at home.
“The bridge Madiba built that connected me with South African political gladiators is still sustained till date. I am still a strong member of the ANC family, just as I am still an ally of former and incumbent President of the country. Only few months ago, I undertook a trip to South Africa and visited the three ex- Presidents. I particularly spent a quality time with my friend, President Mbeki who was then giving cold hands to political activities in his party, ANC. I reminded him of the political philosophy of Madiba. And that did a lot of magic. That sentiments I expressed steered him out of his earlier disposition. He saw the need to join forces with ANC for the campaign. Of course, that decision played a big part in ANC triumphing at the poll,” Kalu stated.
The Forbes-rated billionaire said the lesson he learnt from Mandela has helped him a great deal in his present sojourn in the Senate, particularly on the supremacy of the party.
“I make bold to say that I learnt at Mandela’s feet. During one of our meetings, he told me that he wanted Cyril to be his deputy, but the party leadership thought otherwise. One thing he told me that he did was that he respected the decision of the party because party is supreme. I imbibed that education and have lived by it in my political pursuits in Nigeria.
“It may be recalled that recently I made an attempt to contest to become the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate. I however withdrew from that contest as soon as the party’s decision was conveyed to me. I stood down because having learnt from Mandela the dictates of party supremacy, it would amount to a betrayal of my learning to go against what the party’s consensus.
“I also believe that as an evolving democracy, one with a history of military adventurism with the attendant destruction of political ethos and institutions, Nigeria will fare better if politicians, irrespective of their party affiliations, respect party supremacy. That way, we will be able to build a political culture that derives its powers from the party manifesto and programmes,” Kalu added.
The All Progressives Congress lawmaker said as the National Assembly begin to implement the Nigerian mandate, himself, his family and his constituents will be guided by those eternal principles that Mandela lived by and ultimately bequeathed on humanity.
“I make a pledge to work for the peace and progress of Nigeria. I pledge to work for the peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians irrespective of their tongue and colour. I make a pledge to work for the common good and greater unity of our country. After all, those are the tenets Mandela lived and died for. And they are the core values he taught everybody that had the fortune to encounter him,” Kalu declared.