The long walk to freedom must not end with the demise of its leaders because the struggle is older than the leaders. In South Africa, even before madiba was born, there had been several attempts to resist the domination of the black race by the white. Then in 1912, six year before the birth of Mandela, the African National Congress was founded to embody the aspirations of the struggling masses of Africa. It was formed with the same purpose as other nationalist movement across the African continent. But beyond South Africa, the struggles of the people across the world were manifest. The civil rights movement fought and won freedom in the United States of America. In many parts of Africa, great men of courage and determination who would only rest after dislodging the walls of domination, colonialism and imperialism and wiping off its spots from the soils of Africa.
Today, in some sense, the struggles of the African people seem to have yielded great results. Africans now have the prerogative of choosing their own leaders, of engaging in economic activity without any racial hindrances. But that is about all there is to our freedom. We still are dominated and exploited economically and psychologically. Africans are still seen as those who cannot do things on their own and have to be dictated to by external forces; we are still seen as inferior citizens of the world; in fact some among us also see themselves as such. The shackles of neo-colonialism and inhumane capitalism have pushed the people of Africa to the fringes, to the outposts of their own economies.
Within our nations, the people still struggle with elite compradors whose mastery in squandering scarce resources is unmatched; the people still struggle against incredible odds to make ends meet. There is a new form of struggle, a struggle that is not only against external neo-colonialists but internal forces gradually dispossessing the people of their humanity. The robbery of their vast resources has left them without sources of livelihood. There has been much talk about progress in Africa, economic growth and development but only a few Africans enjoy the bounty of this so-called growth.
Many leaders have fought against the ills of society in any form, economic, political, cultural, social and no matter who the perpetrator is; black or white, man or woman, young or old. These include but not limited to Martin Luther King Jnr., Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere, W. E.B. Du Bois, Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyata, and Muammar Gaddafi.
They all joined the long walk to freedom; they all fought and passed on. Now Mandela joins the long list of fallen heroes to take a long rest. But the long walk must continue. The people of Africa taking inspiration from these leaders must rise against the prevailing forces of oppression strangulating them to death; against economic conditions that have mired them into a rekindled imperialism; against attempts to rob the people of their dignity as humans.
The struggle preceded its leaders and must certainly outlive them. As Mandela takes a long rest therefore, his long walk proceeds, their long walk continues unabated, our long walk ends not.