Mandela reconciles and unites all of South Africa through sport


What words could summarize the World human Right Day than the word of Mandela "I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination," he said at his 1964 trial. "I've cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Call it whatever you will; there is something certainly interesting today as heads of gather in a historic moment to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela on this world Human Right Day. Madiba was one of the greatest icons of the fight for human rights in this century.

It was in 1950 that the UN General Assembly declared December 10 as Human Rights Day, to highlight the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. To celebrate this event, SpringAid International attended a court hearing in Obowo as way of acknowledging the court as an important instrument for the protection and promotion of every individuals and communities human right. Certainly, the inspirational speech of President Obama at the memorial gathering in South Africa was a good way to celebrate this Day.  As Obama observed in his speech, Mandela was a giant of history, the last great liberator of the 20th century, and a man in whom the aspirations and fight for justice for many find expression. We too must act on behalf of justice.  As we know, poverty is an issue of social justice not economics. People are poor and hungry not because of lack of food, but because of some other peoples decision somewhere.

The challenge we face today is how to promote equality and justice; to uphold freedom and human right. Unfortunately,   there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard, as Obama pointed out. Madiba was truly a giant of human right. We can only achieve human right by making it our priority to achieve. The challenges of our country Nigeria may seem insurmountable and lead to cynicism and hopelessness, yet we know that nothing is really impossible for the human spirit that is selfless for it transcends the boundaries of confinement, chains of irons and prison wars erected by unjust structures and institutions. Many of our leaders shy away from the task of helping our people to fulfill their greatest aspiration. Some say it is not I who will change the corrupt system, let me have my own share of the looting. What legacy would you leave behind? Some of our leaders have had the opportunity of turning our nation to a positive direction, of uniting the different ethnic groups, the Muslims and Christians, because they were entrusted with leadership at an important point in our history, but they failed not only the country but themselves. Nevertheless, we as Nigerians should never give up hope in this country blessed with abundance of human and natural resources. We can end the conflict and hatred between our peoples. We build a nation where all can be proud being a Nigerian. We as nation should learn from the experience of Mandela’s memorial to honour those who have suffered and contributed to our nation in politics, culture, development, justice, human right, sports and every other field of life.  I recently read an interview one of the dailies in Nigeria had with Chioma Ajunwa, the first African woman to win an Olympic Gold medal in and individual event. She laments that her achievement has gone unrecognized by the government. Last year, the son of late Igwe Osita Agwuna III of Nri, visiting Sweden told SpringAid International founder that his father’s sadness (Igwe Osita) until his death was that his contributions as one of the forefront fighters  for the independence of Nigeria was never recognized by the government of Nigeria.  If we truly believe and share the legacy of Mandela, we should set up a commission whose function would be to identify and recognize women and men heroes of our nation dead or life. South Africa has shown us that it is possible. We can change for the better.  Let us now end with some words of wisdom from the great Madiba,

“…For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela, 18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013.

Teddy Ihens

SpringAid International