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A lasting legacy

by Rinku Khumukcham
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The world over, people from all walks of life mourned the death of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, often referred to as Mandiba by his close and trusted friends and associates in reference to the clan to which he belong. He is known as the first black president who successfully, albeit with extreme difficulty, made the transition from an all-white apartheid government to a truly democratic one.
The person is gone, but the vision he showed the world by living it will become clearer with each passing day. Almost every one of us have read his story, or at least heard about the man and how he became what he is, but very few of us have actually thought about the impossible hardships and oppressions he had to endure to become the man the world revered. Therein lay the tragedy.
It would be our own loss if we could not learn and grow from the example Mandela set for the whole world to know. It would seem far-fetched for a few who would argue the relevance of drawing a comparison with our present society- yet that argument only strengthen the need for comparison, as we would be saving ourselves from the deepest living nightmare similar to what the man had to endure. It would be fooling ourselves if anybody in our society thinks that ours is better and more developed.
Flattery is addictive and so is self promotion, yet it would be only when somebody else tells us we are good at anything, then we should accept it as true. His words ring true because he had experienced the worst and the best, and made the most of his disappointments and angst to make the world a better place.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Doesn’t that mean something to every one of us in our present day society living in fear and insecurity as it is? Or what about “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”- doesn’t that strike us as unusual, an anomaly to the way we have been forced to lead our lives in the society where the mighty, with a gun in hand spouting ideologies, or a handful of armed protectors ready to do their master’s bidding, have always had their way, be it with our hard earned properties or even another’s life.
 “A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed”- just the description for the person everybody in the State has been looking for, but a task which is proving easier said than done. Where might is right, words seemed to have lost it’s beauty and usefulness, and yet it would augur well for everyone to remember that power- real power, does not flow from the barrel of a gun- it flows from the human mind which made the guns, and the knowledge that made everyone capable of wielding one.
 Mandela had lived an example for us to improve upon. It is up to us to grow or rot in self-denial. We need to break out of our comfort zone and put in efforts to keep pace with the rapidly changing times. Holding on to archaic beliefs and irrelevant methods for fear of change will prove to be our own worst undoing. Nobody can afford to live the life of an ascetic, nor should we aspire to be.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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