Role Model: Nelson Mandela Essay

March 20, 2021 by Essay Writer


Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 at Qunu. Mandela is widely known for his charismatic leadership skills. His political career ambitions started while at university when he realized the unjust nature in which the African society was. The blacks were denied the due chances both economically and politically. This disappointed Nelson Mandela which triggered his ambitions to join politics to fight for his people.


Thesis Statement

Throughout his leadership period, Nelson Mandela demonstrated excellent leadership skills which went beyond the political role. He committed his whole life fighting for the rights of the South Africans who suffered from discrimination. As a political activist, Nelson Mandela fought for his people which led him to be a political prisoner. Nelson Mandela struggled until he became the first black president of South Africa. These achievements by Nelson Mandela make him qualify to be one of the greatest men who have ever lived in history.

Fight against Apartheid (Discrimination)

Mandela’s early days in politics coincided with very high levels of apartheid in South Africa. Mandela was very disappointed by the system since it was characterized by high levels of discrimination (Glad & Blanton, 1997). Apartheid was the main vice in South Africa which incited Mandela to engage in endless struggles.

Mandela has been imprisoned for about thirty years for opposing apartheid system in South Africa (Ryan, 2011). During the apartheid system, the whites oppressed the blacks through their discriminative policies. In 1944, Nelson Mandela became an active leader of the American National Congress (ANC). This was just his first move to fight for the people’s freedom.

South Africa’s apartheid system was one of the worst racism and discrimination scenarios that have ever taken place in the world. However, Mandela managed to oppose the system courageously and persistently despite of the threats by the white leaders (Lieberfeld, 2003).

Therefore, Mandela has shown excellent and selfless leadership which cannot be found in many leaders. Most leaders are driven by their own benefits but Mandela was determined to undergo any torture for the sake of his people. Through the African National Congress party, Mandela was determined to undergo any form of suffering for the sake of the South Africans blacks who were facing a lot of suffering at the hand of apartheid.

Political Activist (African National Congress)

In most cases, many political parties in Africa which fought for the rights of the blacks were characterized by violent activities. Therefore, it was expected that Mandela’s political party (ANC) would be even more violent bearing in the mind the extent to which apartheid had reached in South Africa. However, Mandela’s movement was characterized by non-violent protests. However, the younger nationalists became discouraged because of lack of progress in the initial stages (Ryan, 2011).

Together with his colleagues, Mandela believed that incorporating violence in their activities would trigger police’s brutality and this would bring suffering to South African blacks (Glad & Blanton, 1997). In case they engaged in violent activities, they new that the white leaders would take that opportunity to finish their people.

This was the main reason why they refrained from engaging themselves in violent demonstrations. According to Lieberfeld (2003), Mandela demonstrated peace in every step he made. His struggle against apartheid in earlier days was characterized by peace.

Mandela was one of those kinds of leaders who never gave up. He was rarely intimidated by any resistance to make his moves. He persistently moved forward. For instance, later on after joining ANC, Mandela decided to join the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) (Ryan, 2011). This is because ANC was making very little progress during that time. Due to his thirst to save his people from the chains of apartheid, Mandela joined this party as it was more vibrant than ANC. This group was composed of the members of ANC who were more militant.

In 1949, ANCYL organized strikes and boycotts across the country (Ryan, 2011). These actions were directed to force for changes in policies which oppressed the Africans in South Africa. In 1951, Nelson Mandela was elected as the head of this political party in the country. Soon after being elected the leader of this group, Mandela initiated a Defiance campaign which was aimed at triggering a massive resistance towards discriminative policies. This was his next move after their initial moves yielded little results.

Due to his perpetual resistance to the prevailing system and organizing of boycotts and strikes, Mandela was arrested in 1952 (Ryan, 2011). However, Mandela won that time as his sentence was suspended some time later.

However, he was neither allowed to attend any public gathering nor attend ANC meetings. These restrictions were aimed at minimizing his interactions with the public to avoid further incitation. However, Mandela’s journey did not stop hear as many would have thought. This encounter just boosted her determination to pursue his goals.

To defend the people who were persecuted in the apartheid system, Mandela opened a law which defended the convicts. Later, Mandela and some other leaders were charged of treason. This case was later dropped. However, most of Mandela’s time was wasted as he was sometimes forced to make many appearances before the court. Despite of these commitments, Mandela still continued to fight four the equality in South Africa.

Underground Movement

On realizing that non-violent resistance was not yielding any positive results, Mandela decided to adopt violence in his fight against apartheid. For instance, sixty nine people were killed while resisting for anti apartheid rule which restricted the movement of the blacks in South Africa.

This incident made Mandela to change his strategy of non-violent resistance to more harsh reaction. This is because the rate of discrimination was rising even after their efforts instead of falling. In connection to this, ANC commenced adopting armed resistance (Ryan, 2011).

After the banning of their party, Mandela with the support of other leaders formed an underground group. Through this group, Mandela and his colleagues targeted any official symbol of Apartheid and the government in their targets through sabotage. On seeing the extent to which apartheid had reached in South Africa, Nelson Mandela decided to travel across the African countries and Europe to seek support as well as learning the tactics of guerilla warfare (Ryan, 2011).

Therefore, Mandela realized the importance of the support from other countries in his struggle against apartheid (Glad & Blanton, 1997). Unfortunately, Mandela was arrested soon after going back to his country after completing his mission. He was charged for his involvements with the underground group and for moving out side the country without a legal prescription. This cost, Mandela five years in prison.

Despite of these sufferings which Mandela underwent during his struggle against discrimination towards the black South Africans, his stand was never shaken. During his trial, Mandela confirmed not to be intimidated by anything from his fight against apartheid (Ryan, 2011). He also explained the main aims of the newly formed group Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela together with his group narrowly escaped execution during these trials (Ryan, 2011). However, they were given a life imprisonment.

In 1964, Mandela was sent to Robben Island where he was supposed to spend the rest of his life according to the judgment. Later, he was kept confined alone in fear that he will intimidate his colleagues. All this suffering never shook Mandela’s ambitions. His people went to the extent of referring to him as a silent suffering martyr (Ryan, 2011).

Road to Freedom and Accomplishments

Later in 1984, negotiations for Mandela’s release started on condition that he will allow reallocation of South African blacks to specific places. However, Mandela rejected all these offers. This displays a strong character of determined and selfless leader who was ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of his people. This clearly shows that Mandela was not after any material gain in his struggle for equality.

Under the pressure of the international community and the black South Africans, the head of the National Party F.W. de Klerk softened his stand (Ryan, 2011). Restrictions on ANC were lifted and most laws which were discriminative were dissolved. After continued pressure, Mandela was released in 1990.

Soon after being released, Mandela continued with his fight for freedom. He was engaged in negotiations with de Klerk form ma democratic government. In 1993, Mandela was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize (Ryan, 2011). This was just three years after being released.

Through Mandela’s efforts, South African got the first chance to vote freely without impediments which mostly favored the whites. Mandela was finally elected the president of South Africa in 1994 under the ANC party. On becoming, the president of South Africa, Mandela came up with strategies to unite people and also released those imprisoned during the apartheid system through amnesty (Ryan, 2011).

From there, Mandela has received various awards for his good work to the community. For instance, he received Presidential Medal of Freedom from the former United States president Bush. Mandela was also determined in the fight against AIDs as well as care for the AIDs victims.

Summary and Conclusion

From this discussion, it can clearly be seen that Mandela is really a leader to be emulated. Throughout his leadership, he has demonstrated courage, humility, patience, perseverance, and determination, a combination of character traits which is very rare in many leaders. He persistently fought against discrimination in South Africa despite of the difficulties he faced. Mandela faced police brutality and imprisonment for about thirty years but was never discouraged from pursuing his goals.

This discussion has also indicated that Mandela opted for violence after the peaceful demonstrations proved futile. This indicates that he was a humble reader who looked beyond the leadership boundaries. He considered every move he made taking into consideration the end results. Although he had the power to use violence from beginning of his struggle, he avoided that.

Mandela’s leadership teaches us that one should never be discouraged from pursuing his or her goals despite of the conditions through which they pass. We should also not lose hope for whichever time period this may take. Mandela spent many years in jail but he never buried his hope.

Reference List

Glad, B. & Blanton, R. (1997). F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela: a study in cooperative transformational leadership. Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, 1997.

Lieberfeld, D. (2003). ‘Nelson Mandela: Partisan and Peacemaker.’ Negotiation Journal. Volume 19, Number 3, 229-250, DOI: 10.1023/A:1024629628402

Ryan, J. (2011). Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela (Great Neck Publishing), 1. Web.

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