Since I was a child I have cringed whenever people ask me about role models and heroes. At first I would simply shrug my shoulders as though I didn’t understand the question and look wistfully at my class mates who would eagerly answer “my mother because she does everything with love.” As I grew older people asked more often, the shrug became inadequate. I would select the flavor of the month and give a vague response as to why. My answers ranged from the typical Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Chinua Achebe, Desmond Tutu, and of course Nelson Mandela with the typical universal reason being of “they have changed the world”. On the other end of the spectrum were television characters like John Rambo, John McCain, Chuck Norris “because they don’t take sh** from anyone”
But I can safely say in the hundred to thousand times I have answered that question I have been lying. I have never wanted a role model because they have never helped change my life directly. Having one has never made me a better person. I believe inspiration should come from within. This transfers to my feelings about self help books. (best Heromoine accent on) I think they are utterly and completely ridiculous. Everyone is unique, and I fail to see how someone can write a book years before, without knowing me, my family, my environment or my desires and still have ideologies that should apply to my life. I have stayed away from self help books or having role models because I believe that when your perception of things is not the best ( which is often the case if you are in a situation to read a self help book) then even if you are given the best advice it will do more harm than good as it won’t be understood or administered correctly.
This is why I am surprised by the depth of my emotions at the death of Nelson Ntate Aftrica Madiba Mandela. I’ve been reading the billions of posts dedicated to him, the millions of quote tweets that have become the new trend. The biographies which regurgitate information,I memorized as a child in history classes, read in an amazing narrator voice alongside triumphant music, as black and white pictures of him flash the screen. And I not only feel sad at the loss of such an amazing man, I feel shame!
I’m ashamed to have once lied and said he was my hero. I wonder if Ntate (meaning father in Sesotho) would look at me and say I have done him proud. For once I want it to be true, I want to feel like Madiba is truly my hero and I have made an effort to live by his example.
I have decided to step up and instead of just tributing a facebook status/ tweet or blog to Madiba, I’m dedicating a challenge, an achievement. I wanna do something in the name of Madiba. This is not a day challenge, the man did do 27 years in prison in the name of freedom, I think I can give him more than that. My challenge is to select one Madiba quote (which has taken me hours to do) and to perform an action which personifies this quote. In this challenge I must remember not to “judge me (myself) by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again” If I can persevere through the challenge despite controversy, I know I would’ve done him proud. I’m not sure what the challenge will be but I’m setting a benchmark. 18 July 2014 (Nelson Mandela’s birthday) I must have reached my goal. More importantly in exactly a month I must have laid the foundation of my goal. As a blogger I intend on documenting my Mandela challenge which begins with the quote:
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”