In case I become a hero, honor me when I am alive
Do not wait for me to lie on my death bed,
Then come cushion my remains with fragrant words,
For at this point,
They will only be whispers carried away by the wind…
Rest in peace Kenneth Matiba, you were a true Hero, a fighter who brought home democracy and gave us a chance to be a multi-party state.
Africa has lost one too many of its heroes. Slowly but surely, we are losing the pioneers who fought for civilization, democracy and against colonization and slavery. We have lost Madikizela-Mandela, a renown fearless anti-apartheid feminist, who never bent to the will of her oppressors no matter how tough the situation got. We have lost Kenneth Matiba, a leader brave enough to say enough was enough with the single party state in Kenya. He was betrayed by his political allies, arrested and detained by the state. We lost Tom Mboya, J.M. Kariuki, Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Fred Rwigyema and Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat, just to name a few.
The question that haunts me today, however, is: How often do we stand up for those who stood up for us?
In response to the question at hand; I am of the opinion that not enough is ever done for our political heroes, well, that is until they are no longer of this world. Despite freedom from colonialism, we have been living in Neo-colonialism; a state where we still live in unseen slavery and our freedoms are undermined by our own leaders. It is in our lands, where outspoken and honest leaders lose their lives in stage-managed deaths carried out by power hungry leaders who could not risk having strong opposition leaders, yet we do not speak up. We have allowed ourselves to live in fear of the rulers of the land and thus we end up insulting the efforts of those who stand up for justice rather than standing with them. We do not wish to join them in their fight for freedom, we often criticize everything they do, and say they called for the calamity that befell them, yet when they die we are quick to praise them and mention all the great outcomes of their struggle.
“WHY DO WE TAKE UP LEADERSHIP POSITIONS?”
I often wonder, in our capacity as leaders, do we seek to progress Africa or do we sit at the throne to develop our empires at the expense of tax paying citizens? This question is after an observation of the objectives of the pioneer political leaders. One unique factor amongst these departed souls, is that they fought for the greater good of the society, it was never for individual gain rather for collective achievements. Their attempts to progress Africa often came with challenges. At some point, others were betrayed by their political allies, others were assassinated by those thirsty for power, most of them were tortured or detained, but that did not stop them for fighting for that which they believed in.
We all need to learn from such heroic leaders and take a second to ask ourselves why we take up leadership positions, if these reasons are for selfish individuals gain, then we should know we are working in total disregard for those who lost their lives fighting for freedom.
“MAMA THEY ARE HERE”
Despite all these shortcomings, there are those of us who are however showing us how to speak against any injustices in an attempt to honor our heroes without fear. During Winnie Mandela’s funeral, acting AbaThembu king, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo’s words echoed the reasoning of most people in the almost civilized African society. His words were, “Madikizela-Mandela should have been honored when she was alive.” Julius Malema also stood up and did not hold his tongue back against those who dissociated themselves from Madikizela-Mandela. “Mama those who sold you out to the regime are here. They are crying the loudest…” The words of these two leaders echo the thoughts of most of us who are unable to speak today. During the reading of the eulogy of Kenneth Matiba, our leaders were also given a taste of the same medicine by a long-time friend of the departed. He called out names of leaders whom he claimed betrayed the departed during his arrest.
THE BRAVE ONES ONLY LIVE ON ONCE THEY DIE
The brave ones often go unnoticed; we end up remembering them only when they are dead. The heroes often sit at the back while we enjoy the fruits of their labor. Then we come up programs where we siphon their dues into our pockets and give them peanuts as a reward for their fight against the white man, against slavery, against torture and against an imbalanced political society. The brave ones are often silent, they watch from a distance, especially when we think we know it all; when we forget they saw it all. They watch not because they do not want to help but because they are helpless, we think their time is gone, we believe we know what we are doing. The brave ones are often speechless, not because they cannot speak but because they do not understand how we are redeemed from colonialism yet we still agree to live as slaves
That being said- We are privileged to have been fought for by great leaders such as Kenneth Matiba. Even if they have departed, they still live amongst us in spirit. May we be wise enough to follow their footsteps in the continued fight against corrupt leaders, dictators and tyrants, land grabbers and any forms of injustice that oppress the rights and freedoms we are meant to enjoy. Let us stand up and speak out against injustices!