South Africa owes much to its great leader, Nelson Mandela. His role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa was essentially that of peacemaker. Ethnically he belonged to the Black, or the Bantu groups as opposed to the Boers or the white Dutch element that had settled there in the 16th century. He resisted the governmental group who had segregated the blacks to the non-essential areas of the country, but he did it peacefully.
He changed his tactics of peaceful demonstrations, only after they, the opposing forces, massacred about 60 or more of his people. Then, and only then did he advocate guerrilla warfare. He loves his country and he was not asking to be in control, he wanted both black and white to share equally.
The twenty-six years of his life that he was in prison makes the world wonder at his tenacity and his patience, while deploring the waste of a good and honorable man's time. But yet, upon reflection, and to quote the last line of the English poet, John Milton, when he, in a poem pondered his life after going blind, "...they also serve who stand and wait".
And serve he did. And he still serves. He is now ninety years old. In the July 23rd issue of Time Magazine, his weathered face smiles back at us from the front page. He has some important information he wants to share with the world. It is How to become an effective leader. The managing editor of the magazine Richard Stengel said he thought it important that he tell the world his ideas on successful leadership. There are eight lessons in all:
One is courage and he redefines it for us. It is something far beyond an absence of fear. Two is "Lead from the front, but don't leave your base behind"; three is "stay in the background and let other believe they are leading"; four is "know your enemy"; five is "keep your friends close - and your rivals even closer"; six is "appearances matter - and remember to smile"; seven is "nothing is black or white"; eight is "quitting is leading too".
Whatever and however he did it, he had the stamina to live for twenty seven years in prison because he had ideals he believed in. He probably started out his almost a century ago as a sturdy little boy who learned to love his country, South Africa, and as he grew and learned he saw discrepancies in the way life for everyone should be and the way it was. He determined to do something about these differences and he did. Because others did not exactly see it his way he was thrown into prison. There he watched, he waited and he prayed. Happy Birthday, sir. Thanks to time for sharing some of his memories with us.