Dr. Rafiki Nobe Mandela (December 21, 1931 - January 17, 2007) better known simply as Rafiki, was a Nobel Prize-winning political prisoner, author and essayist from Disneyland, best known for his political essays and novels recalling life under the dictatorship of Mickey Mouse the Great.
Early life and career
He was born in Adventureland to a Kenyan father and a native Adveneca mother. Raised in a comfortable middle-class home, he studied law and sociology at Disneyland University. It was while he was at the University in the early 50s that he became involved in the Disneyist movement. He supported a peaceful, non-violent transition to independence for Disneyland, and free citizenship and equality for its citizens. He achieved his doctorate in 1955, the year Disneyland became independent. However, following Mickey Mouse's bloody coup in January 1956 Rafiki swiftly became dismayed with the removal of personal liberties and democracy which he had supported to begin with. He became involved with subsersive underground anti-government movements and published a number of pamphlets under assumed names criticizing Mouse's regime, particularly after the Black Thursday incident in 1959.
Arrest and imprisonment in Mauschwitz
On February 2, 1966, armed officers broke into Rafiki's home on Tom Sawyer Island. Following the arrest of several anti-government activists, Rafiki's name had been dropped to the military police. Rafiki was brought to trial and on April 8th was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment in the infamous Mauschwitz prison camp. While there, Rafiki suffered greatly, seeing a number of his friends die from disease and starvation. He also witnessed a number of summary executions. In all, Rafiki remained in the camp for four years, occasionally being released on detail to assist with the construction of public works projects. Over the four years, Rafiki became an unofficial leader of the prisoners in the camp, assisting with needs of the prisoners and acting as their representative with the camp commandant, with whom he developed an unlikely mutual understanding.
Following the death of Mickey Mouse the Great on April 20, 1970, the peaceful revolution known as the Fantasyland Spring occurred. Rafiki had now been imprisoned for four years almost to the day. He kept optimistic, assuring his fellow prisoners that the restoration of democracy was inevitable and soon they would all be released. On the night of the 29th May, the camp guards left, abandoning Mauschwitz. The following morning the gates were opened, and Rafiki led his fellow prisoners hand-in-hand out of the gates and into a crowd of people welcoming them with cheers. The images, captured on TV and broadcast live to the rest of Disneyland, elevated Rafiki to the status of a celebrity. Late in 1970 he appeared on talk-shows describing his experiences and in December met with the new head of state, Mickey Mouse, Jr. During this period he published a number of articles about the transition to democracy and became a vocal supporter of a re-drafting of Disneyland's constitution.
In April 1971 Rafiki published Four Years at the End of a Gun, a short volume chronicling his arrest, trial and imprisonment at Mauschwitz, considered the first in his 'Mauschwitz Trilogy'. Mausland, published in 1975, is probably his most best-known work. Greatly expanding on the previous book, detailing the experience from a number of different perspectives and including historical information about the camp, the novel became a best-seller, highlighting the horrors of Mickey's regime. The following year Rafiki won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the only citizen of Disneyland ever to win the award. The Rise and Fall of Disney, in which Rafiki recalls university life and his early activism, rounded off the trilogy. These books made Rafiki one of most high-profile authors in the world and etched him forever in the minds of many as the 'conscience of Disneyland'.
In later years Rafiki remained a popular author, publishing a number of important books, including a non-fiction comprehensive history of his country. In the late eighties and early nineties he embarked on a sell-out lecture tour of the USA. In 1991, shortly before his sixtieth birthday, he was awarded the Magic Kingdom Public Service Medal, the highest honour that can be bestowed on a citizen of Disneyland by its government. During this period he also received a number of other honours, including honorary degrees from UCLA (1993) and Oxford University (1998). He published his last novel, The Circle of Life, an allegorical novel about religious fundamentalism in politics, in 1999. After that he moved to a small fishing village (Little Lever) near Bolton where he became a math teacher at the local secondary school of H.M.S education.
Death and Legacy
Rafiki was in poor health for most of the last decade of his life, particularly after suffering a heart attack in 2003. His public appearances became infrequent, and he rarely left his home on Tom Sawyer Island for the last two years of his life. Shortly after New Years 2007 his wife Ungala announced that he had terminal stomach cancer and had days left to live. On the afternoon of the 17th January, Rafiki died peacefully at age 75, surrounded by his family, including his great-grandchildren. Tributes poured in from around the world, and Mickey Mouse III, whose own father had died just a few months previously, made a public broadcast to the whole nation. Rafiki today stands as arguably the most important writer and political commentator ever to come out of Disneyland, and one of the most powerful voices of protest against violence and oppression in the country's history.
The possibility of a public memorial to Rafiki is currently being discussed by Disneyland's government.
Notable books by Rafiki
- Four Years at the End of a Gun (1971)
- Mausland (1975)
- The Rise and Fall of Disney (1977)
- Hakuna Matata (1980)
- In the Future There Will be Robots (1981)
- Simba's Pride (1985)
- A History of the Peoples of Disneyland (1987)
- The Lion King (1994)
- The Circle of Life (1999)