HAVANA TIMES, July 19 — The 93rd birthday of Nelson Mandela was remembered and celebrated in many parts of the world on Monday. The African leader led the struggle for human rights in his country South Africa and served long hellish years in prison for confronting racial segregation.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is a person who is seen by many people not as a politician but as a leader of just social causes.
This day was celebrated in his homeland with such original initiatives as having all the children, at a certain hour, sing a song dedicated to this dear and respected man.
Other people were called on to participate in activities such as restoration works in poor neighborhoods or making blood donations, among other truly significant actions directed at the common good. These were put into practice spontaneously, without being directed or organized for international display.
In this celebration there are no semblances of any “cult of the personality,” nor any exaltation of the personal values of this person who was that nation’s president several years ago. I admire such will, where people show the spirit to pay tribute to such an important figure in the social history of the world.
Without demagogueries or political speeches — but with dance and song — this is how people should cheer their national heroes.
I was really captivated by the simplicity with which the leaders, men, women and children of this African nation paid a well-deserved homage to this honorable son of their land.
Perhaps my astonishment lies in how accustomed I’ve become to commemorations in my country. The honoring of pre-eminent living and dead figures here is typically weighed down with long-winded, politicized backgrounds. Contrary to their aims, these have become not anniversaries but mere dates that are viewed not with the respect they really deserve, but as imposed and irritating.
From this island I am adding myself to this festivity, and I’m taking the liberty to do it on behalf of so many other Cubans by cheering “To your health Nelson Mandela!”