Friday, August 02, 2013

Invictus : We need a Nelson Mandela in Malaysia

Went to the library to pick up some books since I had loads of potential reading time. Nothing really caught my eye except this one, 'Invictus: Playing the Game' in the 'History' section. Was curious about apartheid and  South Africa after watching the Sugar man film (in previous post).

The author, John Carlin, is a British journalist who was 'The Independent's South Africa bureau chief based in South Africa between 1989-1995.  He writes from a narrative perspective on key events for South Africa,  Mandela and the ANC leaders interspersed with the story of the Springboks and the Rugby World Cup in 1995. A useful snapshot for one who doesn't have much knowledge on the history of South Africa and apartheid, it is an inspiring story nevertheless of Mandela's leadership during the crisis times where the  aspirations of black South Africa and the fears of white South Africa were at a head.

Then I went on to watch Clint Eastwood's interpretation of the book and that was also pretty good - it kept to most of the elements in the book. Morgan Freeman does an excellent job as a Nelson Mandela (which got him nominated for the 2009 Academy Awards and 2010 Golden Globe awards for best male lead).

Although things in South Africa are not as rosy as it may seem after the abolishment of apartheid after 20 years, this is a truly miraculous event in history where centuries of pain and selfishness had to be put aside for a much larger cause to build a nation - and it is still in the process of building. 

If only Malaysia could do the same but it feels like a long time coming . We are still very much a 'pseudo-apartheid' nation where segregation and preferential treatment based on race and religion is championed. Although historically the reasons are different, we know that we still lack the basic human principles of equality which provides fuel for racial and religious hatred for the future.

Nelson Mandela's labour for a South Africa free of apartheid took a lifetime to achieve. It meant putting aside pettiness and hatreds aside to look at the bigger picture. Not an easy task but accordingly it was simple respect which Mandela paid to all the people who were against him and it was reverberated by all who learnt from him which led him to succeed.

An example of this was during the early stages of post-apartheid where distrust was still high; a white Afrikaner leader prepared with guns  said of a black ANC leader who's home he was entering for his birthday party ' Terror Lekota saw me across the room and he came over and gave me a big hug. He must have felt my guns but he said nothing. He just kept smiling. I liked him. He was genuine. Like Mr. Mandela, a genuine man. So that's why I figured, Let's give them a chance; they deserve it'....

A potentially violent situation that was diffused by simple respect.

It seems that Malaysia has lost its bearings on what we want to achieve in nation building. Instead we are talking about sedition acts punishing facebook users and  blood-baying against dog owners - so laughable and juvenile but yet sinister in its ignorance and idiocy. All we need is a Nelson Mandela to lead the way.

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