Early this year I applied for a fellowship, and one of the questions I was required to answer was “name three global leaders that have greatly influenced you”. Without a wait for one second, I knew the number one name should be Nelson Mandela.

July 18th has been set apart as a day to annually mark the birthday of this great icon, South African anti-aparthied revolutionary, philanthropist, political leader, who served as South African President from 1994 – 1999. A man that did not clinch to power after his tenor has elapse, but declined a second term and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki.

Mandela is widely considered a Charismatic leader of repute described by biographer Mary Benson as “a born mass leader who could not help magnetizing people”. His aristocratic heritage was repeatedly emphasized by supporters, thus contributing to his “charismatic power”.  For political scientists Betty Glad and Robert Blanton, Mandela was an “exceptionally intelligent, shrewd, and loyal leader”.  His speeches conveyed “his personal commitment, charm and humor”.

It is on record that he was known for his ability to find common ground with very different communities. He always looked for the best in people, even defending political opponents to his allies, who sometimes thought him too trusting of others. Though he was more vocal in criticizing western powers for their “high handedness”

By the time of his death, within South Africa Mandela was widely considered both “the father of the nation” and “the founding father of democracy”. Outside of South Africa, he was a “global icon”, with the scholar of South African studies Rita Barnard describing him as “one of the most revered figures of our time”. One biographer considered him “a modern democratic hero”. A man often cited alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the 20th century’s exemplary anti-racist and anti-colonial leaders.

A man whose biography has been written five times by five different authors, a sign that indeed Mandela truly gave himself in the service of others, thereby fulfilling the saying by Mahatma Gandhi “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

It is easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build. – Nelson Mandela.

In the end, bones will not be distinguished, it is what we do that will be remembered.

17 thoughts on “My Reflections on The Life of Nelson Mandela”

      1. My brother reading the speech of Obama in celebration is of the 100th anniversary made me understand that I have serious work to do on myself when it comes making impact in our generation. Mandela is really a model for us all ranging from Values and then Virtues.

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