Renowned African intellectual Professor Patrick Lumumba has defended late former President Nelson Mandela against critics who feel that the global icon had sold out the majority in this country.
Lumumba is scheduled to deliver the Mandela centenary lecture at the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha this evening.
Speaking to the media at the Savoy Hotel in Mthatha during a brief media interaction, Lumumba said it was disingenuous for people to label Madiba a sell-out after having sacrificed a lot for the liberation of the country.
His comments come as the country is engaged in a heated debate over land, with some feeling Madiba had over-negotiated during the negotiation process while others fell that he sold out because the land was still in the hands of the minority.
“There will never be shortage of critics. For every solution they find a problem. But it must be recognised that at out critical moments in history certain decision are made, not to defeat the ultimate objective but as a tactical strategic objective in order to strengthen oneself and to lay a foundation upon which the ultimate price maybe won.
“You must remember that the expropriation of land from the Africans in this country took centuries. [Getting it back] cannot be achieved within five or 10 years. It must be done in an organised manner that does not disrupt the nation and does not make the nation plunge into bloodshed. And it is the duty of the successor generation to implement standing firmly on the foundation that was laid by Nelson Mandela and his comrades,” he said.
Lumumba said in his view, Madiba stood out among African leaders because at a critical time in the history of South Africa he took an approach that saved the country from what was going to be a civil war.
“I think the ability to see the future and sacrifice oneself is without comparison. Not only in the continent of Africa but the world. The second decision that he made which I think makes him stand out is the realisation that truly you are never successful until your successor succeeds. And the decision he took to leave office at the time that he did defined leadership as a relay race with one generation passing over the baton to others.
“And I think that is something that is supposed to be emulated by African leaders. You now know, that many African countries are suffering because of leaders who refuse to leave the stage with the consequence that the gains that we have made are now being clawed back to the detriment of not only the continent particularly our young people who as we witness on a daily basis are running away from the continent into what I call modern-day slavery,” said Lumumba.