Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (left) greets South African President Nelson Mandela in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998. (Cooper AP)

By Nangayi Guyson

Kampala,Uganda- Sunday 15th is the date set for former South African president and world icon Nelson Mandela Madiba to be laid to rest after a long full week memorial service that attracted hundreds of world leaders to pay their last tribute to the freedom fighter.

The death of president nelson Mandela last week proved to the world that he was the most loved and irreplaceable icon on earth and has shown to the world that despite their view of Africa as being a continent that is full of dictatorial leaders , it has managed to produce some of the most revered person the world has seen.  Because of his love, Giant European news companies like the BBC even compared Mandela to Jesus Christ and sent a big number of about 140 journalists to cover his memorial. Though this comparison brought controversies among international Medias but Mandela shall always remain one of the most loved world icons.

Indeed his love brought together world presidents and former presidents in South Africa to bid their farewells to the fallen icon and which saw bitter enemies like Cuban leader Raul Castro and US president barrack Obama meet and shake hands

However, all these praises have been made and Mandela has been appreciated for his great work for Africa and the world at large but the question now remains among Africans that, who are the remaining African Icons after the departure of Nelson Mandela? Will Africa’s pride evaporate after his death or there is any one leader who has taken him as an example and will represent our continent?

US President Barack Obama, while  delivering the speech during the memorial service in Pretoria said he is what he is today because of Nelson Mandela who inspired him to become America’s first black President. But when you come back to Africa and ask which African leader is willing to tread in Mandela’s footsteps and fit in his shoes, you will find that non of them is willing  to and even those who try to be like him does the opposite.

Now that Mandela is gone, Africa should think of replacing him with his comrade Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe since they fought against white minority rule together.

Though Mugabe did not tread exactly in Mandela’s footsteps and like most African leaders who are filled with greed for power, wealth, and lack of unforgiving heart do, he expelled the whites who had grabbed the best and most fertile lands from Africans and shared it among Zimbabweans. This act of valor earned him support at home and he is hailed as a hero for the Africans and now some see him as the next great leader after nelson Mandela despite the wave of criticism from the western nations who see him as a dictator. Here in Africa, he is seen and revered by fellow African statesmen for his strong stance against the western imperialism in Africa. His country is not in wars with other African countries.

South African President Nelson Mandela (left) and Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (Right) gestures victory sign to supports in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998. The two men fought against white minority rule.

In Africa still, Mugabe is seen as a great pan Africanist next to other African giants like Patrice Lumumba of Zaire, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Gaddafi of Libya who have gone down in history as the greatest African leaders who advocated for the equality of African rights and their devoted struggles for African independence saw them attract hatred and criticism from the western nations who denounced them as terrorists.

To back up my point of Mugabe replacing Mandela as an African icon, during the memorial ceremony for Mandela, Mugabe’s presence was highly recognized; he received a standing ovation at the funeral. There were raptures after his presence was acknowledged at the FNB Stadium in Nasrec and other African heads of state clapped and stood in appreciation of his presence as he waved back to the thousands of mourners at the giant stadium which accommodates a capacity 90 000 crowd.

Several international media houses have tried so hard to portray Mugabe as being unpopular in South Africa but the fact remains that Mugabe is popular not only in his home country Zimbabwe but the whole of Africa.

He is Africa’s most educated president and if not in the whole world. Perhaps Indian Prime ministers, Singh may have a slight edge over President Mugabe on the global scene. Nelson Mandela, as you rightly put it, was the most famous president of South Africa and not the most educated. So Mugabe will remain African Icon despite Criticisms from western Countries.