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Nelson Mandela’s Values Essay

It will be hard to believe if a person says “A man who served twenty seven years in prison, turned out to be one of the greatest presidents our world has seen”. Well this did actually happen and this former president is still living today. Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in Transkei, South Africa, he was a leader of the anti-apartheid movement in the 1940s. Mandela was jailed for 27 years for acts of sabotage against the South African state, and shortly after his release from prison he led a multi-racial party for the first time ever in South Africa’s history. By doing this he was elected as the first black/democratic president of South Africa. Throughout his years as a president he has been widely regarded as a symbol of global peacemaking, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. His birthday, July 18, has been declared Mandela Day; a global celebration of his legacy. Mandela reached this success and earned the title of a world renowned leader with his values in leadership, standing up for what he believed in, that is in democratic process and his strong disapproval of injustice.

Nelson Mandela valued leadership since his early days, considered by many as a revolutionary leader; he helped organize the fight against racism and apartheid in South Africa. (Brink). Mandela witnessed leadership at a young age when observing his guardian supervising tribal decision-making gatherings. Mandela’s guardian listened in silence for days, never voicing his opinion even after everyone’s opinion was heard. After everyone had spoken, his guardian guided the group to reach a consensus. Later, Mandela used this experience to mold his leadership style (Stengel). According to Stengel, Mandela recalled the following lesson regarding leadership from when he was a young cattle herder: “When you want to get a herd to move in a certain direction,” he said, “you stand at the back with a stick. Then a few of the more energetic cattle move to the front and the rest of the cattle follow. You are really guiding them from behind.” He paused before saying with a smile, “That is how a leader should do his work”. Furthermore, Mandela’s strong value for leadership began with him displaying his ability to organize and lead others by helping to create the Youth League of African National Congress (ANCYL) which organized protests, boycotts, petitions, and strikes to end apartheid.

Previously the African Nation Congress (ACN), ANCYL’s parent organization, had petitioned the government for years for equality with little success. However, with increased success of the movement, the government increased violence toward nonviolent protesters and banned the ANC. Mandela and other leaders in the movement had to decide how to respond. In a risky decision, they concluded that nonviolence would no longer be effective and that the ANC needed to continue underground. These actions resulted in the imprisonment of Mandela and many ANC leaders, but this action helped to inspire others and to prepare the country for change (“Nelson Mandela, African National Congress (ANC), and South Africa.”).After more than twenty years in prison, Mandela decided it was time to take matters into his own hands. He realized that, as a leader, it was time to take a drastic step, and he met with the South African president in order to discuss his release and his desire to switch the nation to a democracy.

Mandela was successful, and upon his release he was elected the first democratic leader of South Africa (Brink). Mandela always stood up for what he believed in; he was never fazed by an opponent. Mandela’s value of believing in the democratic process is an example. Even though many did not always agree with this idea, he believed it was the right way forward (Johnson). He was at first unsuccessful with his pursuits, this included the time when he tried during his imprisonment to have prisoners to be addressed more respectfully by guards, and also later when he attempted to have the national voting age lowered to 14 (Stengel). But slowly he established his foundation of democracy and people were finally drawn to it (Stengel). Throughout his battle against apartheid and helping to bring democracy to South Africa, Mandela adopted a democratic leadership style (Johnson).And according to Johnson “Democratic leaders set policies through group discussion and decision, encouraging and helping group members to interact, requesting the cooperation of others” and this was exactly what Mandela did (Johnson).

Mandela’s other key value that supported his leadership and democratic style was his strong disapproval for injustice. Mandela never tolerated injustice; he believed that justice was the only path to success. For instance, when Mandela got to Robin Island where he was to be imprisoned, he was told to jog to the prison gate. He firmly refused and started a hunger strike with other inmates to condemn the condition they were living in. This worked out in their favor and the conditions improved (Hume).

This example highlights Mandela’s value for denouncing injustice and oppression. Nonetheless, Mandela believed Consensus to be the superior decision making process to build commitment and motivation in group members toward group objectives. Using Consensus meant that justice would be served at its best when making a decision and Mandela fully supported this process (Johnson). Ultimately, Nelson Mandela is viewed as a revolutionary leader for his ability to empower and motivate others using his strong regard for consensus and the democratic process. His stance for promoting justice and peace has been hailed across the world. He led South Africa from a white supremacist country to being the first democratic nation in Africa. With these values Nelson Mandela reached the ultimate success in the eyes of everyone.

Work cited

Brink, Andre. “Nelson Mandela.” Time. Time, 13 Apr. 1998. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
<http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0%2C9171%2C988171%2C00.html>. Hume, Tim. “Digital Mandela Archive Spreads Message of Social Justice.” CNN. Cable News Network, 28 Mar. 2008. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/28/world/africa/mandela-online-archive/index.htm>l. Johnson, Caleb. “A Leader’s Nest” New York Times [New York] 1993: Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Nov. 2012. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=kent208&tabID=T003&searchId=R5&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=2&contentSet=GALE%7CCX3490200977&&docId=GALE|CX3490200977&docType=GALE>. “Nelson Mandela, African National Congress (ANC), and South Africa.” Cold War Museum. The Cold War Museum, 17 May 2009. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://www.coldwar.org/articles/50s/CNelsonMandelaandSouthAfrica.asp>. Stengel, Richard. “Mandela: His 8 Lessons of Leadership.” Time. Time, 09 July 2008. Web. 24

Nov. 2012. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1821659,00.html>.


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