Imagine you were born in a small village in South-Africa. Imagine you belonged to a Xhosa royal lineage but was raised to be humble and always be of service to others. Imagine you studied the law and moved to Johannesburg to become an attorney. Imagine that the Apartheid system was enacted as the law of the land and your movements became restricted and controlled and your most basic civil liberties abruptly and arbitrary taken away from you. Imagine you refused to accept a system that outlaws people on the sole basis of their skin colour and joined the efforts to defy the established order. In hindsight, would you have taken the same path had you known in those early days that you were stepping into a struggle that would completely overtake your life?
Today, I am inspired by Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born 18 July 1918 in South Africa.
It is difficult to tell Madiba’s story in just a few words. When I read his autobiography ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ some 20 years ago, I thought I knew everything there was to ever know about this former political prisoner turned first black President of his country. Yet, every time I listen to his speeches and interviews, read his writings or books and articles written about him, I discover I know only a fraction of his life.
We must recognise that his life was so big and his achievement so extraordinary, it will probably take a life time to fully appreciate what this iconic man represents for us, our generation, the next generation, for our continent and for the World.
It’s an educational journey worth taking several times if you can, and one that I am taking today on this historical milestone.
As this entire year will be dedicated to this great man, we will take his story in strides. I will share his biography and lessons from his life in four chapters.