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Political Leaders Should Emulate Mandela; Quit Power Early 

By Yerima Kini Nsom
 

CameroonPostline.com — The Secretary General of the SDF party, Dr. Elizabeth Tamajong, has called on political leaders in Cameroon to emulate the iconic Nelson Mandela who died last week, by quitting power early enough.
 

“Posthumous praise-singing for Mandela will not help us if our leaders both in power and the opposition do not seek to espouse some of the values Mandela bequeathed to the world,” Dr. Tamajong told The Post in an exclusive interview in Yaounde over the weekend. The SDF Scribe was reacting to Mandela’s passing on to eternal glory on the night of December 5.
 

“Leaving power early when one is tired and reconciling with one’s enemies without an iota of rancour and vengeance are the big lessons that Mandela has taught the whole world,” she quipped. Other ways to emulate Mandela, Tamajong went on, is for such leaders to always treat people equally, reconcile with enemies and forgive them. The SDF Scribe admitted that the opposition leaders in Cameroon have little moral authority gainsaying President Biya for hanging on to power for over three decades.
 

She dismissed claims that people should stay in power eternally in so far as they are elected by the people. “Let me tell you that South Africans were ready to elect Mandela again and again but he told them that he was tired. That is how a younger person, Thabo Mbeki, came into the scene to ensure power change. Our leaders should learn to say they are tired when the centre of power can no longer hold under them.

This message should go to everybody, be it in the opposition or government,” she said. She added that the unanimity with which Mandela’s greatness was hailed in the world is because after languishing in prison for 27 years, he served only one presidential mandate and decided to quit the stage. Another person, she observed, could have decided to be there till death snatches him away.
 

Dr. Tamajong said if she discovers that she is tired and can no longer deliver the goods as the Secretary General of the SDF, no amount of persuasion will make her to continue to hang on to her post. She advised political leaders who are already in their 70s and 80s to learn to leave power before power leaves them. The SDF Scribe said her party is the only party that has tried so far to emulate the virtues of Mandela. She said the spirit of reconciliation and appeasement in the SDF was inspired by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission created by Mandela.
 

She admitted that it is not easy to reconcile people whose hearts are ravaged by the bile of rancour and vengeance. In the spirit of reconciliation, she said the SDF instituted an open door policy. Going by her, it was due to this policy that SDF militants who had left and joined Barrister Ben Muna’s Alliance of Progressive Forces, APF, found their way back to the party and even ran for elections.
 

Tamajong condemned some leaders whom she said are afraid of even their own shadows, noting that no party can be strong if the youth and women movement are not given a chance the way Mandela did in the ANC. While extending her condolences to the bereaved family, the Scribe said the cardinal virtues of the late towering political figure were forgiveness, humility, peace and modesty. To her, the only other person that is coming close to Mandela in the world is US President, Barack Obama.
 

She said as the first black President in that country, Obama would have been choking with vengeance against white Americans if he did not have the spirit of reconciliation. While further extolling the virtues of the man who fought apartheid to its logical end, Dr. Tamajong said the African leaders who held a summit of peace and security in France last week, would have been having fewer problems to tackle had they emulated Mandela by leaving power and giving way to the emergence of new leaders.
 

First published in The Post print edition no 01486

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