Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape South Africa, on 18 July 1918. His profile ascended beyond Mvezo to one of the most well-known global icons of our time. Today we celebrate 100 years of Nelson Mandela. Although he has completed his long walk to freedom, we – as Africans, as humanity continue our long walk to freedom, equality and prosperity for all.


Here are 6 lessons we can all learn from Nelson Mandela


Freedom from prejudice


A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. – Nelson Mandela

Globalisation has flung open borders for people to travel and settle in new countries. The alarming level of xenophobia in South Africa is a reflection of the deep-seated contempt against fellow Africans. Locals accused migrants of stealing their jobs and blaming them for the high crime rate. Mandela taught us that we cannot free if we take away someone’s freedom. We should embrace globalization and people who are different to us. The rainbow nation dream is not easy. It can be messy and unpredictable as the colours run into each and intertwine.


Live a little. Dance


Equal opportunities for all

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest. – Nelson Mandela

South Africa is the most unjust society in the world. It seems like the rainbow nation has failed us. 1994 ushered South Africa into an era of democracy and freedom. The face of politicians and government officials changed. However inequality and discrimination was still deeply entrenched in institutions and society. The gatekeepers of opportunities remained. Superficially the rainbow nation was born but internally nothing changed. It is up to South Africans to continue Madiba’s long walk to freedom. We must make a conscious and deliberation decision to confront and change deep-seated inequality and injustice.



Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. – Nelson Mandela

One of the most powerful lessons from Madiba is the lesson of forgiveness. Mandela was imprisoned, tortured for his quest for equality. He had compassion for his oppressors and saw humanity in them. It is hard lesson for us all.



I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended. – Nelson Mandela

Mandela did not become the face of the struggle against apartheid by mistake. He sacrificed his marriage and family to fight for what was right. Mandela was politically targeted by the state. During the 1950s and early 1960s Nelson Mandela frequently found himself in police station cells, court holding cells and prison cells for short periods of time. In 1962 he was captured, and sentenced to five years in prison for leaving the country illegally and inciting a strike. In 1963 he joined other MK leaders in the Rivonia Trial, at the end of which he was sentenced to life for sabotage. Standing in your truth and conviction is not always easy, specially when your adversaries are giants like state institutions.


Knowing your season

A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind. – Nelson Mandela

He was president from South Africa’s first multi-racial elections in 1994 till 1999 when his first term expired and he chose to step down. Considering the hardship he faced, he could have pushed for more presidential terms. However he knew his role and the seasons in the countries. Africa has the oldest presidents in the world, they will not let go of power. As a result, the African countries have suffered and struggled to develop and flourish. This aspect of Mandela’s legacy should be an example to all leaders, particularly the political elite.