(Article changed on January 14, 2014 at 12:49)
(Article changed on January 14, 2014 at 11:09)
[I wrote this short tribute to Chavez and Mandela as part of my annual write-up on 2013 (a series I call Varsha-Shesh in Bengali, meaning At Year's End). After a few months' hiatus from Opednews, I intend to contribute again to its liberal and progressive work based on a Universalist ideal.]
In 2013, two spectacular and noble lives were ended- those of Hugo Chavez, the indomitable Venezuelan leader, and of course, Nelson Mandela, the larger-than-life leader of oppressed South Africans. Their lives illustrate for us that there will always be higher pursuits and nobler causes for the transcendent human spirit to strive for more than money, glitter and consumption. I have stated elsewhere that the post-apartheid Mandela, who took on the mantle of elder-statesman, was nevertheless limited and even flawed. Sadly, he was likely hamstrung by the machinations of the very military-industrial enterprise that he once so vigorously opposed. From all indications, those forces of greed and control are increasingly influential in the new South Africa. Personally, I also feel a sense of sorrow at the humiliation and obscurity that was inflicted upon Winnie, Nelson's devoted partner. She stood as a most inspiring figure for so many of us during the period of Nelson Mandela's imprisonment; somehow, the treatment meted out to her, to me, smacks of grave injustice. Nevertheless, in retrospect, I find reason to be optimistic that through the struggles and achievements of the likes of Mandela and Chavez, humanity's greatest triumphs- those of identifying with simplicity, dignity, humility and compassion, and all those qualities strewn around us in the meadows, the hills and the streams- will persist beyond the brow-beating and muscle-flexing that characterize the deeply flawed ways of the mighty.
Wishing one and all a joyous and adventure-filled 2014.
The Meaning of Triumph
Remembering Hugo Chavez and Nelson Mandela
Monish R. Chatterjee
Young Mandela as boxer
(image by Awesome Stories)
Rise up and face the justice of the oppressor.
Live through the squalor and hopelessness
Of the ghetto
Witness the walls of separation, real and imagined
The tears, the blood, the indignities
The barbed wire, the bayonets, the hounds
The sounds of trampling from Soweto to Pretoria.