I wrote the following essay as one of my reflections for a strategy course. It might have been slightly irrelevant, but I had to do it.
Never in my life had I heard, or seen quoted in that case, a man describing a virus by: “poor creature.” When I heard of Nelson Mandela’s death, I surprised myself by skipping the first stage of grief (denial) and went straight to anger. Interestingly, it really got to me and I found myself incredibly pissed off at the world. Interestingly, the man had nothing to do with me or the groups of people I belong to – I mean I know that Egypt is in Africa, but Mr. Mandela had little, if not nothing, to do with Egypt. Interestingly, I had never been more wrong…Interestingly.
I remember last July when I was watching the news in Egypt about protesters rallying around Morsi’s residence expressing their deep disappointment and rejection to the ideas and entities he represented. Knowing that there would be nothing more than meaningless commentary for hours, I switched to France 24. Then I saw the exact opposite of what was happening just a few kilometers away from me in South Africa. It was when Nelson Mandela just got into a coma and people expected him to pass away any moment. The scene was beautiful. On one hand, people gathered to express their hatred towards a man so fundamentally corrupt that the mere mention of his name caused people to blurt, in an almost-Pavlovian response, a long list of swear words, and on the other hand people gathered to express their support to a man who spent 95 years making the world a better place…an interesting contrast, I thought.
Very few people had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela, the man, but most people knew of Nelson Mandela, the idea. And to be honest, the man matters not as much as what he represents.
So, on the day Nelson Mandela died, I was angry by how unfair the world is, how meaninglessly fundamentally flawed it was. Then, in a moment of clarity brought by exhaustion from anger, I realized, unlike the other smaller short-lived men of the present, that a man like Nelson Mandela can never die. Last Thursday, like Ulysses (or whatever group of people he represented), Alexander (rather Philip), Ahmos II, Hannibal Barca, Julius Caesar, Richard the Lion Heart, Saladin Al-Ayoubi, Napoleon Bonaparte, Erwin Rommel, and all the other great strategists of old, Nelson Mandela got immortalized.