Nelson Mandela is not your run-of-the-mill type of leader; he is a leader to the core. The Madiba himself is an exemplary and selfless leader. He is a model and a huge inspiration to all manner of leaders worldwide, and a great lesson too, especially for African leaders, i.e. anyone who cares to draw from him any lessons at all. Now, let us meet our role model/case study: He is the South African statesman (1918-2013) who was released from prison to become the nation's president after the first multi-racial election in 1994. By exhibiting unflinching and unparalleled selflessness, and sacrifice, Nelson Mandela finally stood himself out as an epitome of an astute leader for the world to behold.
Leadership must drive a definitive image along with it in order to be reckoned with. Thus a good leader must be one that is both devoted to his career, and diligent towards his calling and vocation. It is quality leadership and integrity (at work), vision, principle, and a predilection for the sublime that unfolds your inner being to the approval and admiration of civilised society. In the end therefore, it should matter to you when you ask yourself – what image do I portray, or how do people see me?
On the very day Nelson Mandela passed on; on that night of thunder in South Africa, when a mighty tree fell and the eagles fled their nests, top world leaders left everything to pull up the rostrum and pay tribute before anything else, and before the strike of dawn. That very moment the American president – Barak Obama ordered that the American flag be flown at half mast immediately, starting from the White House in Washington DC.
While fellow African leaders in unison with their counter parts all over the world join in mourning, uttering ululations and pouring encomiums on the departed world hero, which is the usual ritual, one should wonder if anyone is actually drawing any lessons from the life and times of this fallen hero; this dogged fighter, defender of justice, and an astute leader of the African continent and the world. Usually these African leaders are just wont to come out publicly just to identify with a great brand or personality and, to eulogise the dead – just mouthing off tributes that do not emanate from their heart. They are sober only for a second and the next moment they are back to who they are – what a pity.
In the Holy Scriptures, Jesus Christ referred to the prophet – John the Baptist (a man of no means) as ‘the greatest of all prophets born of woman’. And many who are professed religious people and Christians alike today would be shocked to know that; many would even want to contest it in their hearts unfortunately for them because, greatness, contrary to their brainwash beliefs, does not have to do with, and does not consist of your material possession. So also, our Nelson Mandela has revealed himself larger than life – a very great man and leader of unmatchable stature, not basing it on material possession, but on quality leadership and life style. What more – Michael Jackson, the late music icon of the world longed to meet this great citizen of the world and shake his hands until he did, ditto for so many other world leaders that eventually met with him. Even his enemies had no choice but to admire him.
Greatness, and by the same token, quality leadership, is measured by the core values and a sound philosophy of life which all sum up to the legacies you build and eventually bequeath to posterity. But on the contrary – our leaders, most of them in Africa, and especially here in Nigeria do not seem to care about image or integrity; they are just too busy aggrandising themselves. They do not cherish those virtues that stand out Nelson Mandela; they neither have candour nor cherish peace in their hearts because the truth of the matter is that without justice, there can never be true peace in the land. Our (rulers) leaders are too material conscious and value above all else, primitive accumulation and power acquisition. But Nelson Mandela compared to these lot looms like a translated being, towering above them all, having also transcended all these and other primordial idiosyncrasies.
Our leaders, and in fact everyone of us must learn the lesson that greatness is never measured by the size of your bank account, or the size of car your drive, but by the size of your heart and the values that drive you. Greatness is never measured by the size of mansion you live in or the number of houses all over the world that are in your name, but rather a true leader and great personality is acknowledged by the love he shows, the courage he musters to remain resolute to lofty principles; to uphold them and to stand up and stand out, even if alone, only to make a difference. Such is the man Nelson Mandela; a man of simplicity, a man of charisma, a man of humility and outstanding accomplishments.
By: Morgan Nwanguma (www.workamania.blogspot.com)
Brand/Creative Executive - Energy Group, Lagos