I find the platform of World Citizen Artists to be unique and refreshing, as a place where one can connect with many like-minded people working towards the betterment of the world through our work and ideas, and the using of creativity and art as a medium of enrichment.
I first happened to notice Nelson Mandela on my black and white TV set when I was 10 years old. I saw the image of a coloured man sitting inside a prison cell; he appeared serene and calm. Images of his supporters fighting for his release outside his cell dominated the screen.
His release in the early nineties further fuelled my curiosity and like any other viewer I absorbed his biography with a strong interest, especially for his thoughts on freedom and racism.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela
Mandela’s choice to spend over two decades in jail fighting against racism and democracy for his people confused yet fascinated me at the same time. His marriages too were interesting, and it was his continuing choosing of love over bitterness that further strengthened his sway on the public through his words and deeds, which was proof enough of the man’s belief in himself.
In my journalistic work I often meet and interview activists fighting for their beloved causes but none have reached the heights that Mandela achieved. Could this be because they lack his passion, or that they are too scared to venture out of their comfort zones into new relationship territory including positive dialogue with those with whom they were previously opposed?
The idea of spending over two decades in jail fighting against racism and working for democracy would be a scary thought for most of us, but the man nevertheless attempted to live his life as the ultimate adventure, and lived to tell us about it too.
That truth is dissected and categorised as per convenience leaving less scope for discovery is frustrating enough for us. With schools and institutions cultivating future leaders to follow tailor-made struggles is something that should be thought about.
As Mandela once said, “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
As the world gathers to commemorate the first anniversary of Mandela’s death, I have already begun my journey of climbing a great hill, not knowing what I may find on the other side. But I remain truly hopeful, holding close the idea that it will surely be something worth living up to like Mandela did; and all this simply because he continues to influence the way we view the world.
As a journalist and a painter, I believe in creatively using words and art as media to address issues and to empower people across all ages and from all walks of life.
Mamta Chitnis Sen is a journalist with The Sunday Guardian, a weekly published from London, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh since 2008. She has also worked as a political writer with Mid-Day and Society magazine. She is based in Mumbai.
A management degree holder with a special focus on resource mobilization, Mamta has been actively involved in hosting capacity building workshops for women from different political parties in India. An artist and alumni of Sir J J School of Art, she has exhibited her works at various art exhibitions across India. Her works mostly in oils and acrylics revolve around documenting the slow yet disappearing lives and identity of people, especially women living in rural India.