Today, 6th December 2013, we are mourning yesterday’s passing of one of the world’s Spiritually Intelligent leaders. Like many leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela came from a background that shaped much of his thinking in later life. He was brought up by a local Thimbu King after his father died, and spent much time listening to the elders of his Xhosa Tribe. This period, surrounded mostly by fellow blacks, began to shape his belief in the value and equality of all, regardless of the colour of their skin.
Mandela first came across the injustice and ill treatment of Apartheid as a young man and, from there, his passion and dream to create a racially cohesive South Africa was formed. Prior to his years in prison he was a determined, hotheaded fighter against the Apartheid regime, willing to use whatever tactics were necessary to get his point home. He was indeed, South Africa’s number 1 ‘terrorist’!
However, for Mandela, as for many, his period of great suffering and hardship was the ultimate making of him. In those 27 years, whilst not succumbing to the suppression in jail, he moved to a realization that he had to let go of the injustices of the past; he had to let go of the anger toward his oppressors and move to a place of forgiveness. That place of forgiveness allowed him to heal his wounds and this is something we can all learn from
The personal transformation he underwent on Robben Island lead him to be what he describes as “mature”. The aggression of his pre-prison years had transformed into calm and assured confidence in his post-prison years. He was able to use this sense of calm confidence going forward in all the challenges he faced as President of post-Apartheid South Africa
Mandela’s conviction that communication generates freedom and solutions enabled him to prevent a civil war after the assassination of black South African leader Chris Hani. During the negotiations that followed, he demonstrated his ability to negotiate with a combination knowledge and experience, with his heart-felt desire for resolution and justice for all. He was walking an incredibly thin line between demonstrating to Afrikaans leaders that he was willing to work with them rather than seek revenge, whilst at the same time, demonstrating to his people that he was not siding with the opponents. He managed, with his skills of communication and understanding, to walk this line between both blacks and whites with ease.
Mandela is also proof the value of having a clear dream, a dream of freedom and racial equality for all races. This dream was not for personal significance, but rooted in a genuine desire for the good of all. This demonstrates the power of love for one another.
Lastly, Mandela demonstrated to us all that whatever crosses we are bearing, we will emerge transformed, with an inner calmness, a clear sense of purpose and direction that enables us to make a real different in the world.
This is the gift that Nelson Mandela gave us.
Stengel, R. ‘Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013: Remembering an Icon of Freedom’ on Time.com