Beyond the News
Recently, I wrote here about Barack Obama’s words on the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King remarkable “I have a dream” speech in Washington and there is no better time to go back to this story than the day when Nelson Mandela passed away.
On August 28th 2013, Barack Obama stood at the same spot where MLK did 5 decades earlier to say that better economic opportunity is “our great unfinished business”. In other words, the fight against racial segregation (MLK main’s objective) is in second plan, therefore the only concern now is: improving economical growth.
However, it is important to remember that MLK also stood against the war in Vietnam and the way how wild capitalism was “eating” consumer’s mind in America. Yet, we still see US promoting new wars like in the recent attempts to invade Syria, while the Black Friday madness proves how people have been guided by consumerism even though “economic opportunities” are still limited.
Yesterday, December 5th 2013 Nelson Mandela left this world to rest. He spent his entire 95 years of life fighting! From the poverty of his childhood to the nearly 3 decades in prison, from the responsibility of been the first African Black president to the last months hospitalized. For him, the dream never ended, or perhaps never started! There was, and still is, a lot to do!
Obama visited South Africa last June and although he did not get the opportunity to speak with Mandela (due to his critical health conditions), the American president did pay a visit to the prison where one of most iconic African politicians spent 27 years of his life. There, Obama looked the walls and bars around him like if he wanted to cry. He had that kind of expression on his face that says: “I feel sorry for what happened here”.
But in fact, there was no need to cry anymore because for Mandela, who experienced the hell inside that place, the life behind the bars was a past. The present was more important! The future was crucial! And most importantly, the fact that the Apartheid officially ended but segregation still alive as ever before (the massacre of South African miners during protests a year ago is a good example of it), the tears should be dropped for those who are still victims of racism worldwide and not for him particularly who managed to get out of that inferno!
Mandela dies this year leaving us with the same legacy left by Martin Luther King Jr after his death in 1968: the dream is still alive! But would the world’s most powerful nation recognize that its unfinished business goes beyond and well above the stock market results? Would the fight for the end of racial segregation be limited to artistic speeches? Just like the ones from Ronald Reagan who used to position himself against the Apartheid, but wanted to keep things as they were for the sake of South Africa’s economy.
Both MLK and Mandela did a lot for their countries and for the world, but they did not manage to finish a lot of work that need to be taken forward by the new leaders. Racial segregation is one of them, as well as women’s and gays rights, children laboring, slavering, global warming, corruption, freedom of speech. The list is quite extensive and much more important than financial gains!