Thursday, December 05, 2013

Mandela: A Good Bye Salute to a Giant

A Legacy of Grace and Forgiveness for the Ages 
Since learning of his departure, I echo the global chorus of those who were inspired and uplifted by Former South African President Nelson Mandela. His heroic persistence, continuing evolution and God given vision of knowing that we are all brothers of the earth will resonate to the end of time.

Unfortunately even in death, there have been repugnant voices spewing hate over the Internet in attempts to denigrate his vital contributions to the social consciousness of the world. I can not will not allow much of this revisionist history to overshadow the facts that former President Reagan was an ardent supporter of the apartheid enslavers and was not for the sanctions needed to break this dastardly situation that the nation's black countrymen lived.
Let us not forget that the United States own CIA played an significant role in hunting Mr. Mandela while branding him a "terrorist," meanwhile surrendering him to his captors resulting in his 27 yewar long prison stay. It was the cries of "Free Mandela" as the murders continued and state side student groups and a cadre of activist that demanded divestment and free elections in South Africa that we now know that Mandela himself stated that he was willing to die for. 
Fortunately, Congress over road Reagan's veto in response to outcries from the citizenry and the mounting global movement to vanquish that system. Through all of this, I was reminded of his personal lost of his last living son, Makgatho Mandela, to a AIDS related illness and his clarion call to his countrymen that, "AIDS is not longer just a disease, its a human rights issue," which resonates to this day.

 Furthermore, he also proclaimed that "By all accounts, we are dealing with the greatest health crisis in human history. By all measures, we have failed in our quest to contain and treat this scourge," is a statement that is eerily prophetic as infections rates among Black gay men, 13-24 continue to alarmingly rise in Arkansas despite this population being only 1 percent of the state's citizens.

Mandela continuously emphasized that this health dilemma must become a global priority is a testament to his determination to not be about politics but the people whom he served to which I fully subscribe and hope to live up to. I would hope that this Black man is the type of man that should be looked up to instead of fluffy pop idols, insipid housewives and characters of little to no substance.

At the opening of the Second International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment (July 14, 2003), he said "The more we lack the courage and the will to act, the more we condemn to death our brothers and sisters, our children and our grandchildren. When the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned our backs in a moment of a global crisis or will it be recorded that we did the right thing?"

It is my personal goal and challenge to all who read this to ask themselves what are you doing as the "right thing" in supporting those living with HIV and AIDS, as well as, those in the struggle to address this chronic health issue.

Thank you President Mandela for being a beacon of fortitude, a Black man who stood for something when we have leaders who stand for nothing and being a teacher to all that none of us are free until all of us are free. Here's to celebrating your life with honor and dignity. I send prayers and condolences to his family and all of my brothers and sisters of his beloved South Africa.

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