By Sebenzile Nkambule, Hope O’Brien & Salisu Ibrahim Yunusa
A cause greater than self!
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Mvezo, a rural village in Eastern Cape, South Africa. He was born into the Tembu tribe, and his father was a chief in the village. He was known as Rolihlahla, and was given the name Nelson by a teacher at a local missionary school he attended during is primary school years. It was common practice to give Africans colonial names. He was a lawyer, an anti-apartheid activist and freedom fighter. He was arrested by the apartheid government, and spent 27 years in prison. He was released on 11 February 1990. South Africa held its first democratic elections on 27 April 1994, and he became the first democratic president of the Republic of South Africa.
”As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Nelson Mandela
We chose to focus on the theme of forgiveness as a key leadership lesson from President Mandela’s life. After being imprisoned by the apartheid government for 27 years, he could have chosen to harbour hate and bay for revenge, but he chose reconciliation with, and forgiveness towards the ruthless apartheid government that imprisoned him.
What we can learn as future leaders is the value of overcoming personal hardships, faults and struggles for the success of a vision that impacts the lives of others.
Our struggles may never be as great as his – to liberate South Africans from the grip of oppression and to liberate the oppressor from the grip of hatred and fear – we can however aspire to champion and speak out for causes greater than ourselves.