23/12/2013 05:54 GMT | Updated 19/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Big Shoes and Youthful Feet

Africa has lost a hero. A hero that fought oppressors, jailers and the international community that once put him on the watch list of terrorists. A man who once shared his dream of a world of Democracy and respect for human rights, a world freed from the horrors of poverty, hunger, deprivation and ignorance. Nelson Mandela lived for his dreams. Most of us after being jailed for 27 years would have said I am done and it is time for others to take over. That was not Mandela. He has been a source of hope and inspiration. He was a man who rallied the fight for salvation and dignity in the face of insurmountable odds and deprivation.

Since 1960 African countries have started to gain their independence from colonial powers. Some great men lead Africa in their youth from colonialism to freedom. Nkrumah, Nyerere and other great men had grand ideas. Yet some of those leaders and others who took power from them have taken Africa and turned it into a dark road and the river Hades. For some of those who came to power fighting through a Gorilla war, running a nation like a private fiefdom has become their way of leadership. Though over 20 countries in Africa are in the road for democracy in Africa today, the majority of them are swimming in a pool of poverty and conflict. Rich countries like Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo have become the playgrounds of strong men.

Yet there is light on the horizon. Thanks to globalization and greater communication, people and especially youth in Africa have started to aspire for a better life. Here lies the beginning of our salvation. Some youth in some countries have defied entrenched tyrants and institutions. If that is not the legacy of people like Mandela, what is?

Perhaps it is not too late for the African leader to follow and apply the legacy of the African hero; to live in democracy, to provide freedom and justice, to free all the political prisoners unconditionally, to create free press. It is not too late to invest their nation's pillaged money into their own soil rather than empowering foreign financial institutions. It is not too late to eradicate poverty and to combat HIV/AIDS as Mandela fought for. But all this only if African leaders come to their senses to serve the people rather than to empower themselves, their children and those of close family member.

Mandela led from the front and by example. He was jailed for his convictions. He sat in front of jailers and the jailers of his people with dignity and understanding and negotiated their salvation. He showed compassion and restraint when the situation called for anger and lashing out. He led the fight against AIDS/HIV from the front and he told the world that his son died of AIDS. He didn't get stuck to the chair of power like some leaders did for decades, which he served for one term only. He made the problems of others his problem. He donated a quarter of his salary to children. What more can one ask from one's leader?

To the young African men and women, it is clear that the older generation has failed us, in spite of the very few heroes like Madiba that have lived up to their promise and planted the seeds of hope. The youth have to lead from the front as Madiba did. We have to make our leaders accountable for their actions. The time for us to wait for champions of our causes to come from overseas are over. We should be the 'Captains of our fate' and cultivate our champions for no one understands our fears, aspiration and nightmares. There are young Madibas amongst us that will lead us in this journey. Let us give them the chance to fulfill our promise of a better, peaceful and prosperous Africa.

Blog edited by Meron Okbandrias