Anyway, recently I watched a documentary about South Africa, the effort to liberate the black population from Apartheid, and the role people played in that process. The story was particularly of interest to me because I had visited South Africa for the first time a couple of months before and had related quiet closely with the people, with a lot of fascination. I had attended a Christian youth conference, and met young people from virtually all the tribes that dotted the rainbow nation - Xhosa kids, Afrikaans, Zulu, South Africans of Indian Origin and White South Africans and I had made my own observations and also had quite a bit of questions which they tried to answer, especially on the Apartheid and how it affected their parents. The 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela (Madiba) also gave me the opportunity to look in-depth again into the life of the Legend.
Many time when we see people who have succeeded it is easy to classify them as "super humans" but the truth is that there is no super-human anywhere, even superman is not super human, watch “Man Of Steel” to find out. Successful people sometimes come off to us as people of great talent and skill. But going through the life of Madiba, I came to the conclusion that Madiba was a man of like passion, and that was very comforting. He suffered pretty much and even much more than a lot of us can ever dream of. infact his greatness was a product of the things he suffered. The encouragement for us all is if you are going through anything that is tough, no matter how bad, you can take courage, and if you don't stop, you will make something great out of your life.
His father died when he was young and his mother decided to take him to his uncle who raised him. He became a very commitment Christian and taught bible classes in his local community (I like that part). You know, there is something about becoming a Christian that changes something fundamental about a person and the way he engages his society. In retrospect, I have a sense that the reason he was able to reconcile the Rainbow Nation when he became president must have stemmed from his background as a committed Christian and the understanding and perspective that had given him, especially the power of forgiveness. In his late college days, he met Oliver Thambo, the guy that became his comrade, the man after whom the International Airport in Johannesburg was named. In university, his commitment to God grew and also his engagement with community. He became a member of the Student Representative Council, was in a boycott over quality of food and was suspended temporarily, he dropped out of University and did not get the degree. The story gets worse, he gets home and finding out that they had arranged marriage for him, he ran away from home. Then in flight, he got a job as a night guard at a Mine. They fired him when they knew he was a runaway. Finally, with the help of Walter Sisulu, he got a clerical job in a law firm and had to do correspondence course to get a degree. He joined ANC actively, became one of the pioneers of the youth wing and eventually started a law firm with Oliver Thambo.
He married the first wife and then she left him. He and his fellow ANC guys formed the militant arm of ANC, he even went to Ethiopia to do a course in guerrilla warfare before he was recalled 2 month later, then they arrested him went on suspended sentence, he came out, married a second wife – Winnie Mandela, then went to jail for treason for trying to overthrow the government, and he did 28years in jail. As he was going to jail, Winnie too was going in and out of jail for her participation in the ANC ( I still do not know why they divorced after he was released) and then he married the 3rd wife at 80. By the way, he had children, one of them died of meningitis. The last time, on the news, while the man was ill, one of his grandsons was busy arguing with other members of the family on burial site for dead family members.
However I made an observation, in the middle of all these things, Mandela did not stop dreaming and creating his future. He started a law degree in prison, he organized people to begin to redefine the post-apartheid era, he ran organizations, managed a law firm, went to jail severally, stood at the courts severally, and even at one time, he refused to have a witness and used the opportunity to push the moral side of their anti-apartheid struggle. He kept moving, all his cohorts kept moving, kept pushing, even in jail, they tried to shut him up, but they couldn't. Secondly, he had a company of men who believed in the course. Walter Sisulu, Steve Biko, Oliver Thambo and numerous men that I do not have enough space or knowledge to mention. These men stood side by side and refused to let their inadequacy drag them off the course for their lives and for their nation. Today we celebrate them as heroes, heroes in a special class, and they have not been like several other Africa leaders, with their sit tight policy – Zimbabawe’s Mugabe for one.
The point is this; everyone goes through bad and rough times. It is easy to see people who have succeeded and think they were raised with silver spoon. But behind every glow is a groan. At the base of the platform is a problem; behind every triumph was a trouble. If you are currently groaning, don't sit and take life as it comes, see the big picture and don't stop yourself from dreaming and creating the future you so desire. Keep stretching, keep increasing your abilities and skills, keep creating new opportunities. Trials are no excuses for failure. Also, find your own company and stay with them. Even God promised to set the solitary in families. Don't run alone, infact you belong somewhere, everyone can belong somewhere. Find a family, men of like minds, going somewhere. If you can't find them actively, find them passively in books, tapes, videos, CDs, build affiliations, read my blog, and connect with others, join a great church and link up with other great minds going somewhere to happen.
The future is bright, the future is possible, the future is yours, embrace it, take hold of it and don't give up your future in the face of your adversities. Selah!