Mourning the Departure of Freedom Icon and African Hero Nelson Mandela , While Celebrating His Achievements

HRLHA Press Release, December 9, 2013

We, the Board of Directors and Staff members of the Human Rights League of Horn of Africa (HRLHA), would like to express that we are deeply saddened by the passing away of our African hero and freedom icon Mr. Nelson Mandela, also known as Madiba especially among his funs and lovers. It is everyone’s belief that this icon of freedom, although he is peacefully departing, has left behind an everlasting legacies of  hope for the better future, perseverance in the struggle for equality, justice and dignity for all human beings as well as forgiveness. We could say that not only the South Africans but also the rest of African and other global communities are better off because of his priceless sacrifices, democratic achievements, spirits of hope, forgiveness, peace, harmony, and overall human dignity. HRLHA believes that those of us at all ages and generations who are staying behind are expected to take lessons from his legacies and carry on the torch of freedom that this freedom icon has ignited from where he has left it, and make Africa a much better place where political differences are settled through roundtable discussions, negotiations, and reconciliations, and policies are framed based on respect for human rights.

As the biography of Madiba clearly shows, he stood firm for the equal rights of all people. For that stance, he stood unyielding and he was charged with treason by the apartheid South African government, spending 27 years of his life in prison. Madiba, among other things, is always remembered for forgiving those who extra-judiciary  imprisoned him and inhumanly treated along with other South Africans, despite being forced to spend this many years in harsh prison conditions. Madiba forgave those who not only punished him without a crime, but also who categorized hundreds of thousands of other fellow South Africans as subhuman and condemned them down to destitution and all forms of socio-economic crises  by dispossessing and detaching them from natural resources such as land.   We the leadership of HRLHA see that Madiba lived and departed as a hero and a great leader. As a hero, he stood up for human dignity and equality; and, as a result, he paid unparalleled sacrifices. When he was elected as a president, he made tremendous efforts to deliver justice for all and as an “angel” he promoted reconciliation between the people who were extremely divided based on racial and colour differences. He forgave those who cruelly treated him and his fellow South Africans for refusing to accept racial discrimination and subordination.  Madiba’s achievements during most of his lifetime left a clear message for the people of Africa and the world – that all human beings are equal.   In his life and departure, Madiba taught especially the younger generation about the need for perseverance, hope and forgiveness.

The causes of instability in Africa and in the world in most cases have political differences that generate from racial motives.   In one of his famous speeches, Mandela said, “no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”  Promoting racial, cultural, or national superiority or simply advancing a monolithic view is contrary to human rights principles; and always instigates violence and instability.  In its turn, violence and instability consume our human and natural resources; and hinder us from achieving our potential.  The African and world communities need to follow the lessons from of our hero – Madiba- and focus on teaching our children as to how to unlearn the views that they have learned- and to refute racial, cultural, and/or national superiority theories and practices.

            Instability that has been ravaging the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Uganda) is driven by theories of racial, cultural, national, and clan superiority. For example, the Ethiopian land leasing policy also referred to as a land-grab, which has evicted thousands of people from their homes, is driven by the longstanding colonial concept of terra-nullius – the land belonging to no one. All political prisoners in Ethiopia and the refugees in the neighboring Horn of African countries who fled that country and, some of them perishing in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Ocean and the Sahara and Sinai deserts are  all those who have been conditioned by the racial superiority theories of the ruling Tigrian regime. All   political prisoners who are languishing in torturous prisons of Ethiopia did nothing wrong except that they asked for the respect of their individual and collective rights, and those of others.

In the past and present in darkness in the tropical forests of Africa, people oriented themselves by the “star” in the sky – Venus -Bakalcha.  Mandela, the freedom icon, has established the norm by which African and global leaders should function. Just as the planet Venus has shone and given directions for millions of years, the life of this freedom icon should guide present and future African leaders. Democracy, human rights, social justice and reconciliation should be the motto and the leading ideology.  Using this opportunity, we call upon the peoples in the Horn of Africa, especially the youth, to harness the ideas and ideologies for which the freedom icon – Madiba stood and challenge ideas and ideologies that are contrary to the principles of human rights, social justice and equality.

We would like to end this note with the wise words of Nelson Mandela, who said, “I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man”. Let us celebrate the legacy of the freedom icon by detesting all forms of racism – whether or not it is based on skin color, culture or religion; and stand up firmly and strongly for human rights, human dignity, and equality.

Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA)

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