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Nelson Mandela International Day: What to Learn from His Life, and Legacy

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In this Feb. 13, 1990 file photo, Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, gesture as they arrive at Soccer City Stadium in Soweto, South Africa two days after after being released after serving 27 years in prison. Mandela’s release set off joyous celebrations and violent clashes as supporters welcomed Mandela back from years in jail. Photo: AP/UNB

The World honors Nelson Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) for his lifelong struggle against racism and discrimination. This Nobel laureate served as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa. Mandela is known as the iconic figure who out won the apartheid regime of South Africa at that time. To commemorate is great leader July 18—Nelson Mandela’s birthday—is celebrated every year as ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’. While the whole world is suffering from the multifaceted effect of Corona Virus pandemic, the Nelson Mandela Day reminds us that each individual owns the ability to make a difference and the power to change the world.

What Can We Learn from the Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela

Passion Fuels Perseverance

Nelson Mandela led a non-violent action against apartheid policies the white minority government in South Africa. In these consequences, he was jailed for 27 years. After the imprisonment, Mandela was first-time able to cast vote in his motherland and became the first-ever black president of South Africa.

Mandela’s lifelong struggle is teaching people to build their lives, work, and legacy around a noble cause. If someone finds a cause worth fighting for he becomes passionate and this enthusiasm produces perseverance. When an individual gets engaged in something he truly believes in, his energy soars and he turns into a magnet for other people sharing the same belief. Mandela inspires people to adopt the ways of strategies and tactics but stay faithful to their cause.

Change Is Painstaking

Nelson Mandela was a partner of a law firm – only run by black people – in South Africa. The firm served a huge number of black clients who were suffering from diverse political, economical and legal acts of the government targeting non-white people. Instead of sacrificing the precious years of his life in prison, Mandela could have led a comfortable life, if he had never attempted to make a change.

Mandela believed that solving trouble which really matters or bringing a change that is really worthwhile is not easy to achieve. To translate someone’s vision into reality, he requires the backbone to push through the painstaking journey full of obstacles, struggle, misfortune, sacrifice, and pain.

Mandela taught us that if the road to change were linear and didn’t require unprecedented courage, anybody would do it. However, just because an individual is facing frustration and misery, it does not mean that the cause he is fighting for is not worthwhile.

Forgive to Move Forward

On the TV, Bill Clinton – the president of the United States at that time – observed rage on Mandela’s face during his release after serving 27 years in prison. Clinton was more surprised seeing that Mandela’s anger vanished after a few moments. After years, the US president asked Mandela about this incident.

Mandela replied that the day when he stepped out of prison and looked at the people observing, a flush of anger hit him with the thought that they had robbed his 27 years. Then he felt the Spirit of Jesus was telling him ‘Nelson, while you were in prison you were free, now that you are free don’t become a prisoner.’

As a human being, Mandela felt resentment and rage, until he opted for different path perceiving the consequences. Instead of choosing to live in a world full of racism, Mandela focused on how he could respond to that world. His determination inspires us still today not to be victims of our own past, rather we should let the resentment go away to achieve greatness.

According to Mandela’s perception, no child is born to discriminate. If we can learn to hate people based on their skin color, gender, or political affiliation, we can also learn to honor, love, and respect.

End Right vs. Being Right

After enduring oppression for 27 years in prison, Mandela could have felt the desire for revenge. But he did not. With the thought that ending right was more important than being right, this strong-willed leader invited his subjugators to work with him to bring positive changes. With his incredible capacity to forgive, Mandela established a remarkable example of integrity for the cause.

People can focus their energy for being right or ending right on diverse phases of life such as marriage, social justice or business. The concept of ‘being right’ feeds ego which traps us in our past; while the ‘ending right’ focuses on what we are trying to achieve in life.

Analyzing the life of this eminent leader it can be observed that Mandela passionately fought for what he believed in, but he was also humble and kind. He always focused on the power of collaboration and compromise. His determination taught us that we cannot make peace with the enemy if we are not willing to work with them and treat them with dignity.

Change Initiates from Inside

Self-awareness is a precursor to great leadership. During the 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela understood that what he wanted most for South Africa was peace, freedom, reconciliation, harmony, and equality. He realized that in order to make his nation free from racial discrimination and establish a peaceful democracy he would have to “be the change.”

Nelson Mandela believed that the difference starts with the thought ‘who we are and how we land on others as leaders’. His personal life was a vivid example of humanity that change starts from inside. This notable leader was able to spark hope for millions of people who wished to dream big and attain their dreams without oppressive limitations.

According to the notion of Mandela, what really matters in life is not that we have survived. If we can truly make any positive difference to the lives of other people that can determine the significance of the life we lead. Great leadership should be concerned about the growth of future generations, and help them to live with dignity, morality, and motivation.

  • 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013
  • International Day
  • Nelson Mandela

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