There have been two health scares regarding two prominent African political giants over the past week or so. The world is presently shaken by the admittance of Nelson Mandela to Johannesburg's Milpark Hospital due to an undisclosed ailment. Judging from the number of prominent visitors who have flocked to visit the liberation stalwart, there might be some truth in rumours that he has suffered a collapsed.
Last week, news networks were also abuzz with rumours of Robert Mugabe having had emergency prostrate surgery in Malaysia. The Malaysian authorities first refused to confim or deny the rumours, then gave an all out denial later. Needless to say, Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party have rubbished these rumours and attributed them to the same elements that regularly churn out false rumours about his health and at times, his "death."
As I reflect on the two leaders, I come to a realisation that the two men share so much in common, yet paradoxically, they are total opposites. Both men have qualifications in law, and both attended the famous Fort Hare University in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. They are past victims of oppressive minority regimes and had to face lengthy prison terms for their activism. Both are credited with playing key roles in bringing political independence to their countries and Africa in general. Madiba and Bob were the first democratically elected leaders of their respective countries and are both on record as having stepped into office with messages of unity, forgiveness, reconciliation and democracy. As we speak, both are subjects of media headlines with regards the state of their health.
With so much in common it is therefore ironic that Mandela's state of health has triggered a world wide display of affection with millions wishing and praying that their 92 year old hero recovers fully. Whenever rumours fly around about Mugabe's allegedly poor state of health ,on the other hand, the social networks go abuzz with celebrations and death wishes. It is really testimony to how the choices we make in life at one point, affect our future. The fact that Mandela only stayed in power for one term and never used his position to opress his own people makes him the icon that he is today. Mugabe's decision to become Zimbabwe's life-long leader and his record of human rights abuses and the economic ruin of Zimbabwe have made him one of the most hated men in the world.
Here is a man who had the opportunity of enjoying a similar status to that which Mandela holds today. At one point he was hailed as the epitome of what a modern day African leader should be, especially since he had inherited one of Africa's "jewels"- Zimbabwe. We sure hope that Tata Mandela will stick around longer. Africa's balance of power is currenlty leaning more to the side of dictators and dictators-in waiting. We definitely need the likes of Madiba to prevent a total tip over of the balance. As for Mugabe, it is only a tiny minority that is benefitting from his rule and therefore wishing him a longer life. Some only wish him a long life for the sole reason that they wantto witness that day that he hauled off to the Hague.