Nelson Mandela


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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the most prolific African president that ever lived.  In South Africa, he is known as the “father of the nation” because he had the courage to fight against the apartheid regime. Many people in the world have admired his excellent leadership style. The rationale for this paper is to present a persuasive discussion on the importance of Mandela, the communication skills he used, and the major decisions that shaped his political career, as well as how they will be seen in the future.

Background Information and the Importance of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18th July 1918 (Mandela 56a). He came from Xhosa community. His father was a Thembu chief.  In his education, he attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law. As a lawyer, he helped many Africans to fight against the apartheid government. He joined the African National Congress and later became a founding member of the youth league. Afterwards, he started defiance campaigns against the apartheid system. Moreover, he founded the “Umkhonto we Sizwe” to mean the spear of the nation, which was the military wing of the African National Congress (Mandela 57a). The group used violence to fight against Europeans. After being influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the South African Communist Party. Furthermore, he was arrested and charged with treason in 1962; this resulted in his life imprisonment. Due to pressure from the international community, he was released in 1990. Subsequently, he joined negotiations with Fredrick De Klerk to abolish apartheid and build multi-racial elections. Finally, in 1994, he led the African National Congress to victory, thus becoming the first African president in South Africa. He declined to run for a second term, thus retired in 1994.

In the light of the above achievements, it is evident that Nelson Mandela was important to the people and the history of his country. Firstly, he led the South Africans to their independence. Secondly, he set up the Truth and Reconciliation committee to look into human rights abuses during the apartheid government (Mandela 58a). Thirdly, he worked as a mediator in the conflict involving Libya and the United Kingdom. Fourthly, he oversaw the implementation of a new constitution for the country. Furthermore, he formed a government that integrated all the races. He even rejected a second term, which is not common in many developing countries. Eventually, even after his retirement, he still got absorbed in many charitable works that involved fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS by establishing the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

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How Mandela Communicated with his Followers

Mandela was known to be an inspirational, charismatic, and transformational leader. Firstly, he was always sincere in all his dealings. In fact, he never changed his stance because of different opinions. Secondly, he was influential and impacted the same to his followers. For instance, while in prison, he insisted on respect from the warders, warden, and the fellow prisoners. Thirdly, he demonstrated confidence to his fellow men; for instance, after attending his first term, he stepped down as the president and gave a chance to other political leaders. Fourthly, he would always smile, which made him likable and won a lot of supporters. Moreover, he was always thankful in all his speeches, an aspect that assisted him to communicate gratitude, encouragement, and positive reinforcement. Lastly, he always kept focusing on continuous improvement (Smith 76). Mandela worked hard to bring the desired changes, for instance, he was committed to the fight against apartheid, an initiative that ended him in prison.

Effects of Mandela’s Decisions

Since the time that Mandela was in prison until he became president, he made both good and bad decisions that affected him. Firstly, in 1964 at the Rivonia trial after being charged with treason, Mandela delivered a speech where he resolved to fight against apartheid. He went ahead and expressed his willingness to lay down his life to fighting against the system. His declaration made him famous due to his determination. Secondly, in 1985 he refused to accept Botha’s offer of conditional amnesty. The President offered Mandela freedom on condition that he stopped engaging in violence and illegal actions. Mandela turned down the offer and opted to stay in prison and was prepared to serve the remaining part of his life sentence. His decision was popular because of his self-sacrifice. Thirdly, when a European assassinated Chris Hani, a famous black leader, many Africans were ready to avenge his death, but Mandela called for calm among the people by preaching reconciliation. That simple act made people regard him as a leader who would unify the country. Fourthly, in 1994, he refused to present his candidature for a second term, a decision that he made during his first term (Mandela 45b). It was a shock to the country as presidents were expected to serve for two terms. His decision was exemplary, more so in a continent where most African leaders wanted to presidents for life. Moreover, in 1995, during the rugby world championships, he came to the field wearing South African colors. He even went ahead to congratulate the home team, which symbolized racial reconciliation. His decision to put on the Springbok uniform, which was despised by the Africans symbolized that rugby was for all races.

His worst mistake was advocating for the use of violence and befriending unpopular world leaders like Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat, Sani Abacha, and Gaddafi. During his battle against apartheid, he used violence against the Europeans. By doing this, many people questioned his principles as a leader and in turn this tainted his public image.

Overall Assessment

Mandela changed the world in many ways. His selfless style of leadership was exemplary. Thus, African leaders are encouraged to be selfless and stop clinging on to power. Leaders are also encouraged to be charismatic, inspirational, and transformational. In fact, if African leaders would follow this example, the continent would make significant economic, political, and social growth.

As evident from the discussion, Mandela rose from a young boy to become a political activist, a political prisoner, and finally the president of South Africa. Due to his many achievements, he has been compared to Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. He is remembered for being a model of leadership in Africa. In addition, Mandela struggled for racial interaction, forgiveness, and power sharing. Therefore, for all he has done, Mandela will go down as one of the greatest people who ever existed in Africa.

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