We can say without fear of contradiction that there is no African, indeed no person in the entire world, who does not admire and respect Nelson Mandela.
Note that we did not say Mandela of South Africa. Who does not know that? Nobody! The man made such a name for himself that everybody knows who he was—and still is – because he left such a unique and lasting legacy that he will be, like Abraham Lincoln, like Jesus, remembered forever.
As we have said in past Editorials, Mandela was the one world politician that came closest to Jesus. Why? Because he forgave his enemies—the racist South African whites who subjugated, oppressed and killed thousands of Mandela’s people and imprisoned him for 27 years! When he was finally released from prison and went on, as leader of the African National Congress (ANC), to win a landslide victory in the 1994 elections, Mandela embraced his enemies and made one of them, F.W. De Klerk, co-President of South Africa!
That act alone, plus his decades of suffering for his people’s liberation, catapulted Mandela into political, even spiritual sainthood. For that is what Christ came and died for—that people would love and forgive one another, even their enemies.
So how and why did Mills Jones put Mandela’s admirers to shame? Simply because many of them, as soon as they got the opportunity, forgot and departed from all Mandela stood for, and started using power in the same old way politicians the world over do—to divide and rule, oppress and exclude others—for one reason only: to be selfish, self-serving, to divide people.
That seems to be what that so-called “Code of Conduct” law, which the Legislature recently passed, sought to do—to exclude certain people, many speculate only ONE man, from seeking political office. Why? Because the Legislators—and those who think like them—chose selfishness, envy, retribution and fear of competition over fair play, justice and patriotism.
Here is how Governor Jones put these people to shame: in his Address at Stella Maris Polytechnic’s 16th Commencement Convocation exercises at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium last Friday, he mentioned Nelson Mandela—the man who had EVERY REASON to avenge his enemies who had so long and so ruthlessly oppressed his people and himself.
On the contrary, just as Jesus commanded, Mandela turned the other cheek and, realizing that they were now powerless to do him any harm, he invited them to join him and the ANC in power sharing. In that one act alone he established and secured South Africa’s peace.
In his own role as CBL Governor, Mills Jones has reached out to thousands of poor people throughout the country by giving them economic power through microfinance and lifting them out of poverty.
It is most unfortunate that our legislators and others have chosen the path of envy and retribution—the paths that decisively design and illustrate how NOT to develop a country.
This newspaper has often asked: How is it ever possible for any country to be developed on envy and retribution? Yet that is the path that so many of our past leaders chose—and this has gotten us where we are, at the bottom of the development ladder.
Tubman denied the people freedom of expression and turned them into a nation of sheep. However, following his death, the same people, forgetting their own role in despotism started criticizing and blaming Tubman for Liberia’s underdevelopment.
Tolbert, on the other hand, tolerated dissent, but he did not listen to the dissenting voices. In April 1979, for example, Albert Porte advised President Tolbert to “let the people march—it is their constitutional right.” Mr. Porte also suggested that Tolbert “keep the security in the background.” But Tolbert and his Justice Minister, Oliver Bright, rejected that advice and turned the police upon the innocent marchers, killing some of them. This led to pandemonium, and the rest is history.
Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor went further than Tubman in vigorously resisting free expression. They ruled Liberia with iron fists and murdered thousands of innocent people, including children. In so doing, they destroyed Liberia in the same way the murderous Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin, respectively, destroyed Germany and Uganda.
No—envy and retribution can never build Liberia—or any other country. Only Mandela’s love, forgiveness and constructive engagement can set the stage for peace, progress and economic and social advancement.
In order for himself to emulate Mandela, Mills Jones needs now to begin constructive engagement with his adversaries, for it takes every hand to the plough to build and develop the beloved country.