There is a reason Nelson Mandela is being celebrated the world over in his death, as much as he was throughout his life. It is hard to overstate his statesmanship, his unbound courage, the bigness of his heart, and the legacy he has set as the most powerful reconciliatory force in world history.
His 27 years in prison could have made him bitter, his hatred of the White apartheid regime sharpening within the confines of the four walls each passing day.
Nepal throughout the ages has been a passageway, a corridor for trade, religion and other social influences across the Himalayan divide. For many, it was a bridge, to cross over to something; not always a place on its own right but a way to escape to realms beyond.
Over 2,700 years ago, when the Kirants appeared in the east and later the Khas in the west, except for a few thousand war-like hunter-gatherer or cow-herding tribes, there were very few people to make these rugged mountains or lowland forests a home.
Before I knew that Nelson Mandela existed, I thought our then-leader, Kenyan President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, was the world’s only statesman. I was five years old, and no world existed for me outside Nairagie Enkare, my birthplace in rural Maasailand.
Moi was a mythical figure to me, because he didn’t live in Nairagie Enkare, yet he was always present through radio, a technology too complicated for a child like me to understand.
Without Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s apartheid nightmare eventually would have come to an end. Its enforcers were beyond the civilized pale, and the world’s patience with them had run out. But, without Mandela’s towering moral and political leadership, the transition would have been long, ugly, and bloody beyond measure.
One Afrikaner leader, F.W. De Klerk, came to understand—late, but not too late—what the times demanded, and he thoroughly deserved to share the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela.
Over the years we have imbibed much of the visible Western culture, but regrettably, volunteering is not one of them.
Though volunteering and community service are established ways of life in Western countries, and although there is ample evidence of volunteering in Eastern traditions, few youngsters go out of their way to spend time in unpaid social work in Nepal these days.