In my quest to understand the attributes and accomplishments of the greatest leaders, I start my study and report with Nelson Mandela. I’m an intelligent woman, with knowledge of business, grammar and music galore, but until I began this intense research, I knew nothing about Nelson Mandela- one of the most influential leaders of our era. Let me restate, that I moved to redeem this ignorance, and these are my findings.
I take away from my findings a greater vision for fighting for ones beliefs. In this instance, it is as if I had known there is Earth, and that is all, and was suddenly made aware that there is the universe and vast possibilities of the expansion of this conception. It is a great shock to know how far a single individual can fight for his beliefs, and lead others toward this change. It is shocking to me to begin to comprehend the affect that one man can have on the future of an entire nation, and through that nation- an effect on the world. Indeed, some men have greater power, potential and conviction than many others. Then a select few men have conviction, potential and power enough to spark those few events that are talked about for thousands of generations. The greatness of Nelson Mandela will live after him, long into the chasm of time.
What made him great? In his greatness, what can we learn and act in his likeness so that we, too, can create a much better life for our nation? This is what I sought to learn, and in simple terms, he was great because he was sure.
He was sure of what was right and wrong. He was sure that the Blacks of South Africa were equal in the rights inherently due to all humans. He fought for this equality, and the height of his position of power is the shining beacon of his success- That Blacks and Whites alike could vote for Nelson Mandela, and Nelson Mandela could lead them as they wanted him to.
So often a great idealist leads a country to great change, and when the change comes to pass, that leader has no idea what is next. This we saw with the leaders that led the people to the Russian Revolution through 1917 which dismantled the corrupt tsarist autocracy, but did little to reconstruct a more perfect Russia- leaving the country in chaos and uncertainty after the revolution. No, we can not attribute this failure to Nelson Mandela, who after his release from prison in 1990, traveled extensively to the first world governments fought against the widespread segregation and social injustices against Blacks, and later rebuilt his country with a new structure and a new constitution.
Let me not be overwhelming with championing Nelson Mandela, for I am a noteably optimistic and overly positive person- sometimes forgetting the importance and the honesty of balance. With that warning, I feel the need to say that there are many, many factions that hate Nelson Mandela, and teach that he was a terrorist that overthrew an entire power structure with the use of the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe to bomb military targets. This assertion is true and there is much of the leadership decisions, the political beliefs and the actions of Umkhonto we Sizwe that are morally questionable, or outright distasteful to me. Yes, even to positive, optimistic me. I have brought to light some of the controvercy which surrounds the leadership of Nelson Mandela, but I choose to revert the tone of this post back to its former purpose- to celebrate the strengths of Nelson Mandela, rather than debate his weaknesses. I hope my own legacy is looked on with the same positive tone. Even greatness can be discovered in the leadership of Hitler, who’s military strategy, scientific discovery and ability to organize and lead toward a goal were great, terrible, but great.
What I choose to take away from my study of Nelson Mandela is the ability to stand up for what I believe in, to hold conviction and rightness so dear, that injustice can be defeated. In my own life, where would I be if Abraham Lincoln did not similarly dissolve slavery for Americans and later, if there were no Martin Luther King, Jr. or no President Johnson to end segregation here? That is an alternate future that I do not enjoy to consider, and I love this nation for its freedom and opportunities.
Moreover, Nelson Mandela was successful. It is noble for fight for your cause, but how much more noble is it to win for your cause! In a small way, I champion all success. You can see this evident in my motto, “Triumph Adversity
Success is a hard concept to agree on its definition. So before really studying success (knowing in an abstract way that I want to attain it) I had to make a pre-journey of self-discovery, to decide my own unique vision of success. In the case of South Africa, it was clear to Nelson Mandela that success would mean an end to apartheid, and the equal ability for Blacks and Whites alike to vote. These aims were accomplished- and not without great adversity and sacrifice. Those great accomplishments are celebrated in his award of the Nobel Peace Prize, in commemorative art, cinema and literature.
The benefits of his struggle will benefit innumerable generation. May I become at least a fraction as great.