Mandela: A Practice of Transformation

The worldwide outpouring of gratitude for the life of Nelson Mandela upon his death is testament not only to his role in leading South Africa out of Apartheid, it speaks to way he lead his life and the legacy he leaves the world. For all of his leadership accomplishments the one that resonates the most with me is his ability to transform “what it” into something better.

Each of us has issues, problems or barriers in our lives that we don’t like. For Mandela they were serious and severe from systematized racial discrimination to nearly three decades of imprisonment, arguably more that most of us will, thankfully, have to face; and yet, despite the hardships he allowed these experiences to compel him upward, to open his heart and to embrace those that created the problem so that everyone could move beyond it.

Leadership at its very best allows the “what is” to serve as the impetus for becoming a better person—and that Mandela did beautifully. His hardships became fodder for his compassion and that inspiration transformed millions. No greater example of leadership—love in action, has graced our world. Thank you Nelson Mandela for the life you lived and led, your example of true leadership will live on.

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Earl Rice

Mandela is not viewed as a hero by everyone, especially the Boers in South Africa. Especially the farmers and ranchers on the Velt that suffered under the terrorist activities from the ANC. And, let us not forget that he founded the Umkhonto we Sizwe, which even the United States declared a Terrorist Organization. In no way can Mandella be likened to Martin Luther King. His success at ending apartheid had more to do with the actions of President F.W. de Klerk. And even more important, General Andreas “Kat” Liebenberg, Chief of Staff of the SADF. General “Kat” bluntly told the Apartheid supporters at a large meeting of their leadership the election (when Mandela was elected President) WOULD be a free election. And [in Africaans], “don’t test me on this, because I will first send in my English speaking units, and if that is not enough , I will send in my black units to make sure it is a free election. I will mess* you up if you try to interfere, don’t try me”. Also, let us not forget the blatant and systemized “apartheid” like actions by the Mandela administration against the veterans of 32 Battalion when they were shuffled off to Pomfret (an asbestos ridden rat hole), and forced to live there.

However, Mandela was a very intelligent man, and witnessed what happened to Rhodesia. Rhodesia was transitioned to Zimbabwe. They called it the great white flight as almost every white in Rhodesia left the country with their money. Rhodesia was one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. 5 years later it turned into such a poor country it couldn’t even feed its people and thousand starved annually. Mandela knew that South Africa needed everyone to stay in South Africa. And that is the tight rope of change that he managed. That is his true legacy.

*mess was not the actual word