I Know This to Be True About Nelson Mandela: Guiding Principles

New book examines Nelson Mandela’s legacy, leadership, and guiding principles, 30 years after he was released from prison in South Africa

Nelson Mandela by Andrew ZuckermanThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

11 February 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of former South African President Nelson Mandela’s release from Victor Verster Prison

As part of its marking of this historic day, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is releasing a special book called I Know This to be True About – Nelson Mandela: Guiding Principles. Written by Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang, and Head of Leadership & Knowledge Development, Verne Harris, this inspiring title unpacks the lessons that Mandela’s extraordinary leadership offers, with an aim to engage and motivate a new generation of leaders around the world.What can we take from Mandela’s example to help readers find and nurture the leader within?

Nelson Mandela by Andrew ZuckermanThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

Incarcerated for over twenty-seven years, Mandela devoted his life to ensuring liberation, equality and justice for the people of South Africa. His endurance and faith in a justice to come remain an inspiration to all. Through recollections from his former colleagues paired with his own words, I Know This to be True About – Nelson Mandela: Guiding Principles explores the many challenges Mandela faced and the values, qualities and disciplines that enabled him to lead a country away from violence to peace and democracy.

Nelson Mandela by Andrew ZuckermanThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

The following excerpt tells a story from that first twenty-four hours after his release from prison which highlights just how important these disciplines and beliefs were to him:

Mandela accessed another source of essential energy, and arguably power, through a range of daily disciplines. He took care of himself. He cared about the way he looked and the way he was seen. Even in the midst of the greatest clamour as a global icon and leader of demanding processes, he had his routines and he always kept an eye on his watch. There was a deliberateness about everything he did. He detested disrespect for punctuality. Time was a precious resource to be tended, both for self and for others. He could be obsessive about it.

Nelson Mandela by Andrew ZuckermanThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

Mandela always liked to be early. Not for him the indulgence of very important persons who expect the less exalted to wait for them. He reserved a special anger, sometimes a fury, for those who kept him and others waiting. On one occasion a well-known leader felt his wrath when the leader arrived very late for an event at which he was a speaker. When Mandela stood up to speak after him, he began with an extended homily on the importance of punctuality.

Nelson Mandela by Andrew ZuckermanThe Nelson Mandela Foundation

Perhaps the one day on which he could have been expected to be a little tardy, a little less disciplined, was the morning after his release from prison. The previous day had been a full and punishing one. He walked out of Victor Verster Prison after waiting many hours for the arrival of his wife Winnie. He was frustrated by the delay. And then followed the many dramas of his first speech from the Cape Town City Hall and the evening at the home of Archbishop and Leah Tutu. He retired to bed much later than usual. Trevor Manuel, who was a member of the team which ‘received’ Mandela from prison and had not slept for the better part of two days, recalls returning home and collapsing into bed, only to be woken at 4 a.m. by the phone ringing. It was Mandela, up at his usual time and wondering where his exercise weights were.

Credits: Story

From I Know This to Be True About – Nelson Mandela: Guiding Principles by Sello Hatang and Verne Harris, copyright © 2020 the Nelson Mandela Foundation, in association with Blackwell & Ruth. Photographs by Andrew Zuckerman, copyright © Nelson R. Mandela. I Know This to Be True – Nelson Mandela: Guiding Principles will be published on 24 March 2020.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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