Nigeria Civil Society Organizations commemorated three individuals with rare sterling qualities of selfless service for the good of all on Friday the 25th May, 2018 at the Electoral Institute, Abuja. These individuals are Tajudeen Abdulraheem PhD, Winnie Mandela, & Prof. Abubakar Momoh, who in their lives shared a common link of courage, conviction, struggle and giving back to humanity. The most common feature that binds all three was their demonstrated commitment and struggles against injustice within the context of continental, national and institutional levels.
A string of commemoration activities scheduled for Abuja Nigeria, featured a lecture with the theme Pan African Liberation: The Emancipation of Women and the Humanization of the Male’’. The Lecture was delivered by Prof. Horace G. Campbell, a notable international peace and justice scholar and Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. He is also the Kwame Nkrumah Chair at the Institute of African Studies University of Ghana, Legon. This took place at the Electoral Institute, Airport Road, after Bolingo Hotel Abuja within the hours of 9.30am to 12.00pm.
The late trio of Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, Abubakar Momoh and Winnie Madikizela Mandela, stand out as activists, pan Africanists and gender advocates who lived their lives fighting for human causes. Their individual determination made visible their issues, and civil society celebrates their struggles. The lessons from their lives are being promoted as learning and a motivation for generations to come. Nigeria and Africa has lost but with history and the constant reminder of what they stood for, a ray of hope remains for the continent and its people.
Pan Africanism for Taju was a calling. He kept faith with the potential of Africa. He faced the odds of speaking for a continent ravaged by the stranglehold of imperialism and corruption. He was the founding chairman of the Centre for Democracy and Development and helped found “Justice Africa”- a platform for intellectual reflections and collective action for a free and prosperous Africa. His position as Secretary General of the Pan-African movement gave him international status and access to African leaders, but little protection from the rulers in his own country. Paradoxically, his lifelong commitment to the growth of Africa was truncated by his call to glory on 25th May 2009, notably, the Africa Day of Liberation. He left behind a clarion call “Don’t agonise, Organise!”
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a global icon of female courage with a substance for doggedness and conviction for freedom and social justice. She had an indomitable spirit that could not be broken. She had un-common principles hardly associated with the women of her generation. Popularly known as “Mother of the Nation” by her supporters, Winnie was a major force in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. She ran a life full of twists and turns. From family to society she suffered and overcame trials never losing focus of her conviction for a free South Africa that has all her people black or white, old or young, men or women enjoying equal opportunity on a level playing field. Winnie remained the public face of her husband, Nelson Mandela during the 27 years he spent in jail. Winnie served as a Member of African National Congress where she headed the Women’s League, which became a force to reckon with at the end of the apartheid regime, leading to the prominence of women in the governance structures of South Africa particularly the emergence of a constitution that gave critical rights and protection to women. Winnie died on 2 April 2018.
Abubakar Momoh was a combination of scholarship and political activism. He was a celebrated and distinguished scholar and academic. Momoh’s research and teachings traverse many universities in Africa, Europe and North America. His high aptitude and restless spirit for national development saw Abubakar working across the academia, serving in government technical committees at national and regional levels. Momoh was fearless. He believed in the sanctity of democracy as a means to an end for a just and egalitarian society. He was appointed Director General of The Electoral Institute, an independent research and knowledge development arm of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission where he worked tirelessly to revive the vision of the body and raise the role of learning and experience in elections planning and management in Nigeria and across the continent. Momoh is a scholar and an activist who walked the talk. He will be remembered for his brush with death during an election, which put to test his conviction for credible elections in Nigeria; no matter the odds. Ironically Momoh died on 29, May 2017, Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
The Commemoration event featured solidarity messages in commemoration of the Trio from CSO leaders round the world as well as mentees, friends and family.