Even if it is a joke, and not real, still, the thought of Kanye West having the audacity to self proclaim himself as “the next Nelson Mandela”, it has me wondering in a time when I should be morning one of the world’s most selfless leaders. It’s not out of the realm of possibility in the world of Ye, because he did compare himself to Jesus. So now I’m thinking that If “Yeezus” actually could think of himself to be the next Mandela, than maybe he, along with so many others of our generation, don’t know Mabiba’s real legacy, or even what exactly makes someone a revolutionary figure to begin with.
If Kanye really wanted to say he has the same amount of influence, if not greater, as Mandela, then he would miss the point: Mandela’s actual influence. Mandela’s influence was one of the strongest our generation will see. It extended beyond reinforcing existing cultural norms, making opened statements that are generally ignorance disguised as art–as has been much of the case with Kanye these last couple years. It was his selflessness and dedication to a real movement that took down an entire social order based on race. Men like Mandela, along with so many other ANC revolutionaries didn’t just reinforce a culture, or just make controversial statements to stir the pot, they created a new standard of living. They shook the very foundations and tore down everything their society was built upon:racism. Men like Mandela should be honored because they didn’t work within the walls of an unjust system, they sought to eradicate it completely and create a new paradigm of thinking that was unimaginable before.
I don’t know much about South African politics, or even Mandela’s legacy while in office, but what I do know is that we never saw him dropping drones on innocent individuals, torturing people in the name of a “War on Terror”, denying his citizens of their civil liberties, spying on the people who elected him, or detaining people in prisons without their basic habeas corpus rights–all things that are so common with our leaders today, including our very own first Black President, Barack Obama.
You can criticize Mandela’s political decisions when he went into office, but he was one of the closest heads of state this world has had to being a Messiah. While we live in a country where our leaders in power would rather shut down the government than ensure every citizen with basic health care, Mandela gave up everything–while serving 27 years in prison–because he loved his people, and could not stand to see them subjected to some of the most inhumane treatment this world has seen from a first-world country.
It’s not a sad day for Madiba, because he lived a good life, and he had been suffering for some time now. But it is a sad day for us. Because Mandela was the last of a dying bread. A bread of leaders that loved unconditionally, and it showed not just in his eyes and smile, but also how he spent his life as a selfless servant for his people.