Awakening Africa Magazine


What can you learn from Nelson Mandela?

2 Mins read

The continent of Africa accounts for over 1.4 billion people, making it the second-largest continent on the planet in terms of population. The continent consists of 54 countries and a multitude of different cultures, ethnicities, and religions. It also happens to contain one of the most destitute places in the world. Aside from South Africa, most countries in the region are characterized as underdeveloped, with 60% of the population involved in subsistent farming. Millions live below the poverty line, and the region has high infant mortality and malnutrition rates.

A nation fractured by greed

Poverty is just one of the issues plaguing the region. Africa’s problems go beyond economics. Corrupt regimes, strained ethnic relations, violence, terrorism, and failed institutions have prevented many African countries from progressing.

The continent boasts huge mineral reserves. Ironically, this abundance has been more of a curse than a blessing. It was Africa’s riches that attracted the colonial power of Europe to annex the region and strip it not just of its resources but also of its indigenous institutions. The social fabric of Africa, the institutions that had held many nations together, was damaged. Even as Africa gained independence, the shadow of its colonial past looms high.

Nelson Mandela – A leader, a legacy

There is a need for healing and learning, as well as unlearning. African nations do not have to look far to get the leadership needed to shake off the shackles of colonialism. South African politician and leader Nelson Mandela is proof that freedom and prosperity can be gained through struggle and perseverance.

Born in 1918, Mandela led the anti-apartheid struggle and became the first democratically elected black president of South Africa. He was more than a leader for his nation. However, what Mandela’s life provides is a lesson that any nation, people, or individual can learn. Here are a few takeaways from Nelson Mandela’s illustrative life:

  • Unrelenting compassion

A firm believer in equality, Nelson Mandela never preached hate against his oppressors. His compassion and gentle nature are what made him such a charismatic leader, one who not only gained liberation for the people but also united a nation. He knew that the internal divide would only make his country weak. This is why he demanded recognition of the truth but reconciliation, not revenge.

Even his 27 years long incarceration did not make him a bitter man filled with hate. It is easy to be vengeful, but to forgive and move on is a rare quality that Mandela possessed. Instead, it was during this imprisonment that he became increasingly introspective and gained wisdom. Compassion overcomes divisions and strengthens nations.

  • Unshakable resolve

Despite his gentleness, Mandela was not someone who would compromise on his ideals. He paid the price of raising his voice and encountered grave persecution. He was tortured and unfairly imprisoned. Yet he never strayed from his path. He stuck to his beliefs and fought with his words against all odds. His persistence is an integral part of his legacy and a key ingredient to his success.

  • Bravery

Always humble and soft-spoken, Mandela displayed great courage. He could stand up for the moral good that attracted people to his message. The oppressed knew they were being mistreated, but it was Mandela’s initiative that helped them realize the dream of liberation. He gave voice to the oppressed without fearing repercussions.

Any nation can rise if they make difficult decisions and show courage. Remaining steadfast and committed to the cause once the first step has been taken is necessary to realize the dream.

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