Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 and died on December 5, 2013 following a recurring lung infection. The renowned world figure finally succumbed to his illness at the age of 95 years, marking the end of a long illustrious political life. Apart from his praiseworthy political life, Mandela was also known for his unwavering desire to fight for human freedom not only in his home country, but in the entire world.
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During his active years, Mandela was a truly great leader who always dedicated his life for the service of humanity (Kalungu-Banda, 2006). In fact, his leadership qualities would transcend the borders of culture, race, and language among other social factors. There is no doubt that Mandela’s bold and exemplary achievements in life really changed the world, thus making him a real hero of many people.
From the days he was constantly involved in the struggle against apartheid through the many years he served in prison, Mandela has succeeded to change the world in many ways. For example, he was not ready to let anything stand between him and his strong will to fight for the freedom of his people.
Mandela was a great man who never gave up on seemingly impossible ideals, and for that reason, nothing would make him change his principles (Bolman & Deal, 2006). His dedication and commitment was beyond personal interests, and this can be observed in his outright rejection of Botha’s decision to offer him conditional amnesty in 1985.
The amnesty was offering Mandela freedom from prison, but on the condition that he should stop being resistive of the law. Mandela simply felt that, by accepting the offer he would be betraying his enduring principles and what he had been fighting for over the years. Instead, Mandela chose to remain behind the bars for the rest of his life and by putting his feet down in defense of his people’s rights, his long struggle would finally grant South Africans their freedom.
Mandela was also known for his exemplary acts of humility, the one aspect which enabled him to achieve most of his goals in life. His whole life was based on real selfless dedication of service to humanity. Throughout his entire resistance on the evils of apartheid, Mandela used negotiation as an alternative to armed and violent resistance.
Even though this approach had slowed down the process of granting South Africans their rights, it was the most ideal approach for Mandela in his quest for freedom for all people. Mandela’s unique collaborative instincts helped him to conquer many obstacles in his long journey to freedom. In fact, this great son of Africa knew how to give others his full attention and leverage their insights before giving his opinion (McDonough & Zeldis, 2002).
Mandela’s humility was also manifested through his willingness to forgive those who had wronged him and his desire to come into reconciliation with those he had clashed with. More importantly, even though Mandela liked giving credit to others, he has always refused to take credit for his own achievements. No doubt, this is one of the highest degrees of humility that can be expected from a human being.
Mandela was the first and probably the last moral authority that Africa would ever have. In fact, modern global leadership lacks the moral authority he displayed in numerous occasions as a leader.
What may be the peak of Mandela’s moral authority was seen in 1994, when he refused to stand for another term as the first black president of South Africa even when it was clear that the people were willing to re-elect him (Goldsmith, Lyons & McArthur, 2012). This was a very remarkable gesture that would hardly be expected to come from a continent such as Africa where leaders are known for their tendency to apply every possible tactic to remain in power.
This was a clear indication that Mandela’s long struggle was not based on the greed for power, but simply on his selfless desire to ensure that freedom was restored to the people of South Africa. Mandela (2003) claimed that, “South African has finally achieved its political emancipation and that never again shall oppression be experienced in the land”.
As it is shown in this paper, there is no doubt that Mandela has helped to change the world through his illustrious leadership style. His selfless commitment and dedication to fight for the freedom of his country has continued to serve as a great inspiration for many people across the world (Lodge, 2003).
For these reasons, the countless facts about Mandela’s private and public life offer great lessons to modern leaders, thus helping to transform the world into a better place. In fact, it is for these reasons why I will always see Mandela as my hero in life.
Bolman, L., & Deal, T. (2006). Battles and beliefs rethinking the roles of today’s leaders. Leadership in action, 26(4), 3-7.
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Goldsmith, M., Lyons, L., & McArthur, S. (2012). Coaching for Leadership: Writings on Leadership from the World’s Greatest Coaches. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Kalungu-Banda, M. (2006). Leading Like Madiba: Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela. Cape Town: Juta and Company Ltd.
Lodge, T. (2003). Politics in South Africa: From Mandela to Mbeki. Cape Town, South Africa: New Africa Books.
Mandela, N. (2003). Nelson Mandela: from freedom to the future: tributes and speeches. Cape Town, SA: Jonathan Ball Publishers.
McDonough, Y., & Zeldis, M. (2002). Peaceful Protest: The Life of Nelson Mandela. Bloomsbury USA: Walker and Company.