Bill Gates has been nominated to deliver the 14th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. I guess they chose Bill because he has made a lot of money and is now purging his demons by trying to do good works. It does not matter how he made his money and what exactly he is doing with it.
First I rebel against this choice. Having made a lot of money does not make one a better person or more knowledgeable than others.
It is against such neo-Liberal sycophancy that Mandela stood.
Madiba stood for equality of all. Wisdom and humanity are probably best found among the very undistinguished of this world.
I think Brother Nelson is therefore turning in his grave.
Madiba spent the better part of his life arguing for the poor, the disenfranchised, the ignored and the discriminated against persons like you and me.
So Bill is definitely not the right person to deliver this year’s address.
I AM. The reason is that I am not great; actually I am A Nobody.
And this is what I am going to say:
Title of Lecture: HUMANITY
If Nelson Madiba Mandela were to personally deliver this lecture today, he would have talked about the state of the human race this day; how:
• religion has divided us;
• we are busy bombing and driving lorries into each other for no discernible gain;
• migration of people is demonized while the birds and capital know no borders;
• the world is coming under the headship of fundamentalists;
• US as opposed to THEM is the order of the day, and this is manifested in hyper tribalism, racism, nationalism, and class; and
• globalisation has been hijacked by the political cum financial elite.
All one needs to remember is that to date, all humans occupy a very small rock which goes round and round the sun. It is the third rock from the sun, and in the universe of things it is a very, very minute piece.
Unless we learn to live together, we may need another Madiba to drive some sense into us.
He would tell us in no uncertain terms that:
• Nothing in nature lives for itself.
• Rivers do not drink their own water.
• Trees do not eat their own fruit.
• The sun does not shine for itself.
• A flower’s fragrance is not for itself.
• Living with and for each other is the rule of nature.
Human beings today are being unnatural.
We allow rivers to flow across state borders and wild animals to migrate from the north pole to the south pole without hindrance. Yet people are to be restricted to imaginary lines called borders even when the conditions within the restrictive borders are not acceptable.
The noble idea of globalization has been hijacked and capital is to freely roam the world. Meanwhile, labour (another name for people) is selectively allowed to move.
South Sudan is again in the news for the wrong reasons: their so-called leaders are misleading them. Kakuma Refugee Camp in the virtually arid northern part of Kenya is quickly filling with refugees.
On another front, a young Tunisian has decided to drive a lorry through people in France; people whom he does not know, and in the process murdering some 87 with others still fighting for their life in intensive care units.
And the Britons probably voted Brexit because opinion leaders in that country persuaded them that immigrants are the source of their economic and housing woes.
Then we hear that some Syrian refugees in Germany have voiced the opinion that they would rather go back to their war-torn country than stay in Europe of questionable human rights credentials when it comes to how refugees and other migrants are (mis)treated.
In Africa, the heads of state and government meeting in Kigali, Rwanda are not sure whether having a single passport for all Africans is a good idea. They are thinking along the lines of Jomo Kenyatta and Haile Selassie for whom a United States of Africa as proposed by Kwame Nkrumah and co was an anathema.
Recently, Muammar Gaddafi, who harboured such Africanist sentiments, was murdered by Americans, who also by good measure murdered Saddam Hussein for possessing ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which he did not possess.
Talking about the US, after it was thought that they had advanced in their race thinking by electing an Afro-American as president, the attention which Donald Trump has attracted and the mass murders there – ironically without Saddam – tells us that the world’s strongest county is still a very sick society.
Meanwhile in the Far East, the emerging global economic and military giant, China, is thumbing its nose at the International Court’s decision that it is interfering with some rocks jutting out of the sea too close to some of its island and small state neighbours.
Whereas the Chinese fish produce and sea food have been rejected in the US for credible health reasons, now we hear that the fish has showed its head bang in the middle of Africa. Yes, in this very part of the world where interference by Europeans set in motion major ecological and environmental disasters which have led to the little fish caught in the waters of Lake Victoria being shipped to feed the ‘superior’ human beings in Europe and other ‘developed’ societies.
Last but not least is Turkey where the military has decided to attempt taking over the state machinery to ‘restore democracy’. My age does not permit saying it, but here goes: WHAT CRAP! I thought we had all agreed that the military are not by their very nature a democratic lot. So when they try to overthrow a government saying that they want restore democracy, all conscious citizenry must rise up and rebel.
In brief, the world is a mess right now. So what would Brother Nelson Madiba Mandela say? You already know what he would say. If you do not, then all you need to do is think like a human being and you will know. Mandela would end saying his piece by shouting a big:
Thank you for inviting me to deliver this year’s Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. God Bless You and God Bless America … sorry: GOD BLESS ALL HUMANITY.
By Enoch Okwach Opondo