THE SIMPLICITY OF MANDELAS FRUGAL EXISTENCE WORTH EMULATING ;
As solemn as Nelson Mandelas burial was , i was humbled by the simplicity of his frugal existence . The late Mandela would have had virtually anything he wanted in life but opted to live the quiet simple life of the villager , even choosing to be buried like a commoner amongst his ancestors in the village of Qunu . The hilly surroundings , bushes and shrubs at Mandelas burial site in Qunu negated the opulence of state burials in grotesque mausoleums soo dear to lesser leaders . The simple huts and houses visible with no electric fences were a reminder that Mandela lived his words and was one at peace with his people.
Never has there been mention of an overflowing swiss account in the name of Nelson Mandela . No luxurious homes in the posh capitals of Europe and America bear Mandelas ownership . And if there are businesses he ran , i do not know about them . Unlike Mobutu , Bokassa , Amin and other dictators in Africa and beyond , Mandela did not sleep on a solid gold bed . His signature floral shirts , as opposed to starched suits , signified simplicity and ease .
Mandelas departure has put president Jacob Zuma in the spotlight , highlighting his inadequacies and extravagance in building for himself a palatial home , complete with outbuildings , numerous servant quarters and a helipad that has seriously depleted the exchequer . While its construction and other white elephant projects go on , South Africans face daunting economic hardships and wallow in abject poverty .
The desperation of South Africans was apparent when they booed President Zuma and gave racist Mugabe a standing ovation during Mandelas memorial service . That Mugabe has ran Zimbabwe to the ground did not register . An opinion poll released on the eve of Mandelas burial indicates that more than half of ANC want Zuma to relinquish the presidency . Contrasted against Mandela , he has been found to be wanting .
Back home , there are lessons for us . The disconnect between leaders and the citizens is apparent in the extravagance and opulence of their lifestyles . Leaders barricade themselves behind high electric walls , steel gates and guard dogs . The government would rather build a retirement home for an ex president at the cost of 700 million shillings, an office complex costing 500 million shillings , a 2 million shillings monthly pension and a motorcade than employ teachers . It is better to evacuate a whole city block just to accomodate the deputy president and put up a multi million shillings official home for him as well to keep him away from the riff raff . Members of parliament and senators get free cars , monthly mileage allowances , sitting allowances , insurance covers , morgages and salaries worth billions of shillings monthly as doctors , nurses and lecturers plead for a little salary increment . Where are our priorities ? Must self always come before service ? And is leadership about grabbing as much as one can while the going is smooth ? Apartheid and racism were more potent than tribalism yet Mandela contained them with ease , by applying wisdom . Instead of pragmatically tackling tribalism and balkanisation , most leaders glorify in propagating the vices . The fragile situation in South Sudan is brought about by tribalism . Military coups are not the solution because civilisation has given us constitutions to guide us .
It is not like we in Kenya and Africa as a whole are poor. We are rich and industrious but the lack of fiscal discipline and prudent political management will forever be our undoing . Need we look beyond Asia and the Middle east to appreciate this ?