“MADIBA STOOD out among African leaders because at a critical time in the history of SA, he had taken an approach that had saved the country from civil war,” orated renowned Kenyan intellectual, legal expert and scholar Professor Patrick Lumumba.
The poetic Prof Lumumba was addressing guests at the Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture held at the Walter Sisulu University, in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday, a day before Mandela’s 100 birthday.
“Madiba had also decided to leave office at the right time, and not hang onto power. Many African countries were suffering because of leaders who refused to leave the stage, said Prof Lumumba, much to the resounding applause from packed auditorium.
He said on his release from prison, Mandela had taken the decision to let go of the hurt that he had endured. He also rejected claims that Mandela had “sold out” during negotiations with the then apartheid government, saying the reality was that certain decisions were made with a tactical objectives in mind.
Prof Lumumba, in most occasions had tears in his eyes as he outlined the role Madiba played, sacrifices made, incarceration, left his family and yet prayed for reconciliation since Apartheid was rife then.
“Mandela would not have stopped asking questions on situations happening in East Africa, Northern, Middle East and South Africa. He would not be quite but ask,” he emphasized.
He described Mandela, the iconic former statesman as a “moral true north” in the political arena not only for South Africa but the whole world.
Lumumba, on the controversial Land issue, said it had taken centuries for land to be taken from Africans and that the process to reverse it could not be achieved within five or 10 years. Instead, he said, it should be done in a diligent manner.
A Xhosa poet presented him with a shield and a stick -as a sign of appreciation in Ubuntu culture.
For me and other fellow South Africans, Prof Lumumba was more of a poet than just addressing the lecture that was attended by the troubled SAA chief executive Vuyani Jarana, MEC and ANC senior member Mlibo Qoboshiane and other luminaries from varsity.
Musicians Zahara and poet Mzwakhe Mbuli provided entertainment.
Yes, I might be forgiven for gloating but if, and when, Prof Lumumba does give an address anywhere in the world, I would be the first to take that front seat…Yep, wouldn’t mind drinking from the same well as his.