Nelson Mandela has passed away. An influential leader has left us all forever. For a man who has achieved so much in his 95 years of life and changed the lives of generations of people in his time, it is indeed tragic for us to hear about his passing.
Mandela was an icon because he fought for the rights of the enslaved black people in South Africa – and for that, he was charged with conspiracy to overthrow the state and imprisoned for 27 years, until his release in 1990.
Why did he manage to achieve his goals, while others have failed?
Worked with Rivals
Since 1994 when Mandela won his country’s first democratic elections in April 1994, the national anthem has consisted of elements from two songs, “God Bless Africa” (sung at black protest rallies) and “The Call” (the old white national anthem).
This showed that Mandela was willing to work with the opposition in order to achieve his goals. In this case, it was to forge national harmony using the national anthem from his own people and that of his white rivals.
Mandela did what he could, including working with the white leaders, to achieve his anti-apartheid goals.
Did not seek revenge
Even though his white captives tortured his people and held him captive at Robben Island for 27 years, Mandela showed no spite and was still willing to work with the government to achieve his anti-apartheid aims. He was very humble and did not use revenge to fight back. As Oprah Winfrey was reported in today’s Straits Times, “…he was humble and unscathed by bitterness…”
And in the same article, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was also quoted as saying, “…he did not seek revenge, but took the lead in national reconciliation.”
Treated Others with Respect
Mandela always treated others with respect. He never looked down on others and in his eyes everyone was equal. He showed people trust and respect, to establish his sincerity.
During Mandela’s last four years in prison, he had talks with the then South African Minister of Justice, Kobie Coetsee, and also did once with P.W. Botha, the then President himself. In all of these meetings, Mandela treated them with respect.
Once people were on his side, he would then work to achieve his aims. General Constance Viljoen, former head of the South African Reference Force between 1980 and 1985 has been reported as saying that people left (Mandela’s) company, often feeling a “more virtuous person.”
Has Hero Status
Mandela had hero status and was loved and respected by all those around him. He could do no wrong in the eyes of people, even sometimes amongst rivals. For example, it has been reported that Mandela invited one of his white prison wardens to his presidential inauguration and the warden could only look on at Mandela in admiration during the ceremony.
Even other top leaders, such as Barack Obama, have only fleetingly felt such power, but for Mandela, this hero status has stalked him for four decades.
Now the icon has finally been aid to rest and we will all miss him.
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