Nelson Mandela always stressed, “I dream of An Africa which is in peace with itself.” It is the right time to place before the world and the country in the present scenario when we are entering upon a new era, a picture of new, young Nigeria. The freedom which we have won comes with the responsibilities which can either make or mar the future of Nigeria.
In a world where political leaders hardly volunteer for retirement, Nelson Mandela decided to step down after only one term as president. Madiba was unique and set a glorious example, but the leaders after him have almost forgot to learn from him.
His dream of creating a democratic, internally peaceful rainbow nation was successful to an extent. He wanted to be part of a nation where all races could be reconciled and therefore prevent any chance of another apocalyptic race war that he had to face for so long. He focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality.
Today, it saddens me to see such vast differences in class, the internal war in our nation, and the inequality between rich and poor. He had fought a peaceful fight, struggled, and won over the inequalities and atrocities he faced.
He came along at the right time, when it seemed transition could only be achieved by violence, and insisted there was a better way. I think it is time to follow his steps, to sit down and rethink the entire process of our working. I have always felt that today’s generation needs to widen the horizon of their thinking.
We are part of the world where life is way better than the times Mandela lived in. We have the power of social tools and a wider audience. If we wish to communicate the medium, systems and listeners are not very far from us. Often, at work I find people using the same old methods and certain rigidity to adhere to change. Madiba was a dreamer; he was a man ahead of his time.
Our young generation should realize the importance of imagination, of dreams and the integrity to make them happen. I always encourage out of the box ideas, simplicity and the ability to execute them. If there was a way or means to see dreams turn into reality, it is now. Nigeria has a strong youth, with the right guidance, now is the time to open their wings and take off.
This is the time to show the world that they can make things happen. Madiba had said on his 90th birthday, “There are many people in South Africa who are rich and who can share those riches with those not so fortunate who have not been able to conquer poverty.” The rich should think of ways to rebuild the nation by thinking of ways to create opportunities for poor.
Mandela left it to the country’s leaders to pave the way for a prosperous future. He believed in inclusive growth which meant prosperity of all, irrespective of caste, gender, colour or race. At Diamond Bank, I try to create such opportunities for the weaker section of the society. Our CSR activities for woman are often designed to encourage them. Our ‘Beta’ friends project for women banking is a huge success. It aimed at making woman realize the importance of saving and investing.
We cannot just sit and wait for a leader who “can unite in their efforts to improve and to solve the problems of Africa.” We have to start working. We have to see new dreams and work towards those dreams. There’s something special about the dreamers of big dreams, they are the ones who can make things happen.