Being in Africa, and reading about so much corruption, I reflected again on meeting Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
Time magazine (in their July issue) did a cover story on 8 lessons from his leadership principles. Coming across an interesting book in the Amsterdam airport about the history of Africa deepened my realization of how unique of an individual and leader he was. Much of the history of the African continent is a sad stream of leaders who have used their positions to exploit their people. In the case of Nelson Mandela it seems that the potential for absolute power did not lead to absolute corruption.
I read his biogaraphy “Long Walk to Freedom,” visited Robben Island, where he was a prisoner for over 20 years, and was later lucky enough to meet him at his home in Qunu shortly after his term as president had ended. His warm, welcoming personality and his self-depreciating sense of humor make him easy to like. His lack of bitterness over the harshness and struggle he went through makes him easy to admire. Sure he’s not perfect, but how many other political leaders do you know of where people will spontaneously make up songs about how much they love him/her? I heard those songs on the streets of South Africa, and still hear people throughout Africa and the world praise his name – and I think for good reason. He is definitely one of my favorite world leaders.
Do you have any favorite leaders? If so, why?