By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
December 6, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) - As the world mourns the passing of former South African president, Nelson Mandela, political activists in Ethiopia have stressed the need for African politicians to emulate the anti-Apartheid hero.
- Former South African President Nelson Mandela attends the sixth Nelson Annual Mandela lecture in Kliptown, near Johannesburg, in this July 12, 2008 (File photo. Reuters/Mike Hutchings)
Reacting to reports of Mandela’s death, activists and ordinary Ethiopians in several interviews with Sudan Tribune said the former South Africa president’s passing should serve as a wakeup call for African leaders to “begin implementing best political practices.’’
“African leaders must learn from Mandela on how to leave a better place to the continent and to the world at large” Solomon Negassi, an Ethiopian politician told Sudan Tribune.
Negassi said African leaders are failing in working towards building unity, national reconciliation, Justice and human rights in their respective countries.
Separately, Genet Yohannes, an economist, says unless African leaders follow a positive political path like Mandela achieving African unity will be difficult.
Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95, became the first South African Black president in 1994 after he spent 27 years in prison under the then Apartheid regime.
After serving one term as a president, Mandela handed over power to Thabo Mbeki in 1999, something uncommon among African leaders.
An Ethiopian opposition official who sought anonymity told Sudan Tribune that African leaders particularly the despotic must learn from Mandela and limit their stay in office.
“African leaders must learn to limit their grip on power” the opposition official said adding “I don’t think African leaders are yet ready to make such a decision”
Once he gained power, Nelson Mandela, winner of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize didn’t seek reprisal against those - under the white minority rule - that threw him in prison to serve a long jail term.
A memorial service will be held in Johannesburg on December 10 and his funeral will take place on 15 December.
ETHIOPIA PAYS TRIBUTE
In a statement released on Friday, Hailemariam Dessalegn, the Ethiopian prime minister and African Union (AU) chairperson expressed sympathy with the family of Mandela and the South African people.
“President Mandela did not only lead his country’s struggle against Apartheid but has also been the torch bearer in the quest for Africa’s freedom” said a statement by the ministry of foreign Affairs.
Mandela inspired generations of world leaders to stand for justice, human dignity and freedom.
The Anti-Apartheid icon was in Ethiopia during his exile in the 1960s while he was leading the struggle for freedom.
“Indeed, President Mandela leaves behind a great vision from which all of us Africans should draw inspiration” said the Ethiopian premier.
The statement added the Ethiopia government will continue to value the principles of democracy, freedom, justice, tolerance and reconciliation for which President Mandela dedicated his life.