Life lessons from Nelson Mandela
The 18th of July was Nelson Mandela’s 102nd birthday and it is a good time to remind ourselves of the lessons we have learned from his life and leadership. He will always be known for his forgiveness, reconciliation and his pledge for freedom for everyone no matter their race or skin color and thus will always be an inspiration to the world. Here’s what we can learn from his life
- Violence is never the answer
Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison due to his adoption of the Marxist Strategy of sabotage and violence in the fight for justice. Marxism is a socioeconomic analysis method that uses a materialistic interpretation to understand social conflict. Mandela was smart enough not to be restricted by bitterness and resentment from the past. His persistence of reconciliation and negotiation led him to win a joint Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
- Do not be discouraged by difficulties
Mandela was sentenced to life in prison but he spent 27 years there, most days in solitary confinement on Robben Island which is at the coast of Cape Town. All this is because he stood up to a government that was abusing the human rights of black South Africans. During his time in prison, he endured a lot of hardship and he documented it by writing hundreds of letters. He maintained his values all through the years in prison despite all the hardships.
- Intelligence and kindness makes you strong
Although our society today greatly mistakes kindness for weakness and encourages smart people to dumb themselves down to avoid being labelled ‘nerdy’, being smart and kind makes a person a force to be reckoned with. Mandela never lost his kindness or compassion even after years of imprisonment. He was also smart enough not to escape when he would be sneaked to the outside world by wardens towards the end of his sentence.
- Never give up
27 years are enough to change the ways of a man and his thoughts. This was not the case of Mandela, as he still never gave up even after 27 years of harsh weather conditions and difficult labor in prison. He was truly committed to ending apartheid and the lack of justice in his society. This encourages us to always be committed to our goals and values and not to lose hope or faith when the road gets a little rough.
- Forgiveness is prime
Mandela took his time in prison to learn Afrikaans, the language of his oppressors. Forgiveness is what led the man to pursue peaceful reconciliation and negotiation talks with his oppressors for four years before his efforts bore the fruits he wanted. This is a reminder to ourselves to always forgive those who wrong us or else we give them the power to control us. Since we can only choose how we react to things and not how those who hurt or disappoint us act, it is important to always forgive and learn so as to liberate ourselves from the other person’s actions.
- Love wins
Nelson Mandela remained true to the cause despite all the years of hardship. He rose above anger and fought for the human rights of black South Africans. The way of life of his people was greater than all the hardships he faced in prison and in the end, he chose to fight for them. He believed love comes naturally to the human heart and thus we can all learn to love each other despite our race, skin color or religion.