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Contemplating Nelson Mandela's Legacy in South Asia

This post is part of Global Voices special coverage Remembering Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013. Cartoon by Bryant Arnold. Free for use.

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013. Cartoon by Bryant Arnold. Free for use.

Earlier this month, Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero and first black president, died at age 95, leaving the world in mourning. People in South Asian countries also remembered the beloved statesman in their own way.

Nepal, after long years of political turmoil, has recently completed an election. But the leadership remains an apprehension for many. Satire Nepali blogger Guffadi wrote:

In the past sixty years, we have seen hundreds of clowns who have been offered opportunities to govern this country. But they all turned out to be false prophets who only enriched themselves and their families instead of helping the common folks.

How long will we have to wait for honest leaders to lead us to the Promised Land?

We are still waiting for our Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Why is it difficult for our Emperor and his courtiers to admit their crimes publicly and ask for forgiveness? Our security forces should do the same as well.

Indra highlighted Gopi Chandra Kharel's article in International Business Times, who tried to link connection of Mandela with Nepal, a country 5,725 miles away from South Africa:

Nepali leaders have a lot to learn from Mandela's statesmanship, integrity, and lack of political ambition. His ability to cooperate with even his opponents is a pointer to us during the constitution making process. – Jayaraj Acharya, Nepal's former ambassador to the United Nations

Blogger Passu from Bhutan compared Mandela to Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the founder of the Bhutanese state:

Zhabdrung lived four hundred years before Mandela yet there is something so common between the two- Zhabdrung unified Bhutan as a nation state while Mandela unified different races to make South Africa one strong nation. Zhabdrung fled to Bhutan to escape arrest in Tibet where he was supposed to be the rightful leader. But after he became powerful in Bhutan he never sought vengeance against people in Tibet who wronged him, just as Mandela reconciled with people who imprisoned him 27 years.

Today, when Mandela dies I am reminded of Zhabdrung's death.

From Sri Lanka, Asanga Welikala wrote on Groundviews:

The freedom from fear imbued Nelson Mandela’s personal conduct and political creed throughout his life, and it is the leadership attribute that ensured a plural and inclusive constitutional democracy in his motherland. It is unfortunately not an example that many Asian and African leaders have had the will, the capacity or the character to follow.

Also on Groundviews, Sunanda Deshapriya drafted an imaginary open letter to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse by Mandela of what is expected of him:

At times I wonder what do you have to learn form us when you have become a strong defender and a close friend of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who has made himself president for life, in practice. His path was completely different to ours and laden with violence. Another disappointing news is your close relationship with the king of the Swaziland, a most backward country in Africa. If you have chosen to follow the examples of Zimbabwe and Swaziland, there is nothing we can offer you.

Teeth Maestro from Pakistan thought that not many leaders can extract peace in the face of adversity:

Surprisingly as similar to Mandela being labelled by his right-wingers as Terrorist Mandela, Khan is similarly painted as Taliban Khan mostly by his opponents, predominantly settled on the left-wing. Such resistance, is in my opinion, merely because driven by his opponents who see these “peace talks” attempts to disrupt their own established control on Pakistan. The name calling will never stop true genuine leaders, in fact, it is in the face of such adversity that actually drives them harder to continue their struggle for whats best for their country – Peace

In 1990, the Indian government granted Mandela its highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India). Upon his death, India declared five days of national mourning for Mandela. He is widely revered in the country, but it seems some have never seen his photo. Poet, blogger and satirist Farrukh Hossaini tweeted:

This post is part of Global Voices special coverage Remembering Nelson Mandela.

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