Angela Merkel of Germany who said that Mr Mandela’s”political legacy of non-violence and the condemnation of all forms of racism” would continue to inspire.
French President Francois Hollande stating that Mr Mandela’s message would continue to inspire fighters for freedom and to give confidence to peoples in the defence of just causes and universal rights”.
Indian Prime Minister who while saying it was not only a loss to South Africa but a loss to India too, called him a “true Ghandian”.
President Assad of Syria, who is currently fighting one of the most ruthless, brutal and merciless battles to maintain his rule over the country, resulting in massive scale death, suffering and displacement of his own people, said that Nelson Mandela’s life was an inspiration to freedom and a lesson to tyrants!
“It is with great pain and sorrow that the Republic of Belarus learned the news of the death of former President of the Republic of South Africa, the legendary fighter for freedom, equality and human rights Nelson Mandela. His commitment to the ideals of justice and humanity, the unique wisdom of a statesman will always be an example to politicians around the world,” How much of an example it was to President Lukushenko needs no elaboration.
This brings me finally to our own President’s message, which was, as is to be expected, a very long and rambling message of 6 paragraphs. (I will for the purposes of this article leave out his message as the Chair in Office of the Commonwealth.)
Like that of Kim Yong Nam and Syria’s Assad the message is paradoxical, but if one is discerning enough, one could also see a Machiavellian side to the message.
His message starts off by referring to Mr Nelson Mandela as the “great leader of the struggle for freedom and a hero to millions around the world.” He goes on to say “that the late leader inspired the South African people with patriotism by courageously leading them to achieve independence with ethnic harmony”. Since the passing away of Mr Nelson Mandela, I have been reading many reviews of his life, watching several TV programmes portraying his achievements and reading the hundreds of tributes paid to this great statesman. Nowhere did I find a reference to his inspiring his people with patriotism. As an erudite lawyer, and a person who fought tirelessly for justice, he would have been aware of Samuel Johnson’s pronouncement that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Further more the struggle in South Africa was an internal struggle against apartheid and patriotism had no part in it. Therefore, why did the President’s message allude to “patriotism” and its link to the “achievement of independence with ethnic harmony”, instead of the pillars of Nelson Mandela’s legacy to his people – “truth, reconciliation and justice.”? This is exactly where President Rajapakse failed due to a lack of vision, poor statesmanship and unscrupulousness, hence the Machiavellain twist to his message to justify this failed approach. Siezing the solemnity and profoundness of the moment the mesage was also targeted to the people of Sri Lanka in the hope that it would acquire authenticity by association.
The other part of his message was pure hypocritical rhetoric: “the legacy of peace the late President Mandela established, and the philosophy of life he exemplified have been a great inspiration for those of us in Sri Lanka who, for many years strived for peace”. The degree of hypocrisy was exacerbated by the personal note: “His life and philosophy have deeply inspired me and I consider President Mandela’s demise a great loss to me personally” The culture of impunity, the absence of the rule of law, the corruption , the nepotism, the enactment of the 18th amendment, the impeachment of the Chief Justice, entrenching militarized rule in the North and East and failing to provide peace, reconciliation and justice to the Tamil people, under his Presidency, do not reflect his having been deeply inspired by the great Nelson Mandela.
On a note of hope I would like to conclude with excerpts of the message of Barack Obama: “Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings – and countries – can change for the better.” This is your cue Mr. President – make that change for the better. You will then earn the right to bask in Mandela’s glory and earn the kudos of the world.