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by: Lesley Ann M. Liquiran

Invictus is a Latin word that means unconquerable. It becomes one of the many inspirational poetic themes of William Ernest Henley, an English poet.  The poem accentuates the poet’s motivation to remain tenacious in the fate of despondence. The poet reminds himself to be invincible, albeit in an unbearable situation.

Several people experience life’s pungency. There are a number of them who jumped in with both feet in the well of agony. The experience fortified their mental and emotional stamina. Thus, it led to the stories of survival and victory. On the other hand, the fire of distress consumed some of them.  They have debilitated, eventually subdued, and overthrown into the bore misery and bitterness.                      

The essence of Invictus appears more apparent to me when I watched the movie. “Invictus” is a movie that portrays the compelling life story of Nelson “Madiba” Mandela. Morgan Freeman animated the character of Madiba.

The movie depicted the beginning stages of Nelson Mandela’s presidency in South Africa. When Mandela assumed his Presidency in 1994, he acknowledged the enormous challenges his government faced.  As he took the Office, he underscored the significance of uniting his people since civil war was a long-lived societal predicament of South African then. He surmised of way to accord his people. Simpson (2009) cited that a new black government has shifted the balance of political power.

South Africa, in 1995, hosted the Rugby World Cup tournament 1995, and a year passed after the country’s first democratic elections. However, South Africa then was deeply divided along racial lines.

The Springboks, South Africa’s rugby team, were on the top pawns list for reconciliation consideration.  The Springboks was led by a team captain named Jacobus Francois Pienaar. South Africa had been split along sporting lines, with the white minority being avid followers of Rugby and the black majority of soccer. Francois became the union catalyst of racial dispute in his country.

Madiba viewed Springboks as an excellent opportunity to reconcile the country. Mandela perceived that the event would unite the blacks and whites as the country traversed the path of victory in Rugby.

Mandela was proactive in his goal to unite the country. He had immersed himself in knowing the team. He was exuberant in assuring the team of his unwavering support. Although out the movie, Freeman(Madiba) was evident and enthusiastic about the games of Springboks. Pienaar eventually imbibed the Genuity of Mandela to support the team in taking home the bacon. Springboks fought hard through the finals. They contested New Zealand, who at the time was the sturdiest in international Rugby. Mandela stood by the team and invigorated the team zest leading to victory.

Personal Takeaway as a Leader from Nelson Madela

As a leader, Nelson Mandela exemplified superb leadership qualities, including a high index of humility, determination, and tenacity. Mandela demonstrated a leadership style that motivates and inspires his people. For him, being a leader is more than public interaction and appearances. It encompasses proclivity that elevates people’s lives and idiosyncrasy.

Similarly, Mandela’s leadership caliber and accomplishments have impacted change among the hearts of his people. The world has recognized his presence of which resulted in a new and better world.

Mandela aimed for equality – to eliminate South Africa from apartheid. This scenario compelled him to bring freedom for his people. Most of his perception was grounded on his personal experiences while in prison. His wisdom pressed him to instill hope- that better days await his country.  Mandela was deliberately aware that the tasks his government has to perform are tedious and perpetual. Through his relentless perseverance, he sensed that he would succeed in liberating his people from the chain of prejudice. The 27 years of imprisonment has prepared and molded him to be the first-elect South African president.

Considering his leadership style, the virtuous dream for the greater good of his people emanated from his intrinsic of his quality.  However, Mandela was aware that people wouldn’t support his goal, no matter how ideal and dignified it is.  For most people, change equates to resistance, for it would require an ounce of hard work on their end. The undertaking seems uncomfortable for some because they have to relocate themselves and move out of their comfort zones. It would be a long fight for Madiba, but he is determined to traverse the path of success.

Leadership Qualities of Nelson Mandela as a Leader

Freiberg K and J (2018) cited in their articles the five exceptional characteristics and attributes of Nelson Mandela that positively swept past South Africa.

  1. Passion yields perseverance.

When a leader finds an opportunity or event worth fighting for, he becomes more tenacious in conquering the task. The zeal ignites the fire of tenacity. Nelson Mandela was able to oppose the idea of violence against apartheid in South Africa. Through the long 27 years in prison, it taught him a valuable life lesson. It boils down to the application of non-violence in introducing change. As with most transformational leaders, Mandela’s path to change was trodden with significant challenges, but he hurdled the challenges along the way.  He never gave up on his fight. He considered the bigger picture – his vision to bring forth change. He took for granted the shame and bitterness and focused on his cause as a leader. He noted, “The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.” If Madiba leaves a legacy, it was to ground our lives for a noble reason. When people become immersed in something, they deeply believe in it. It causes their energy to escalate, and they influence people to share the same convictions. Consequently, people would adapt his strategies and tactics gearing towards the noble cause.

  • Transformation is never easy.

Any form of undertaking that leads to change and transformation is wrought with issues and challenges. Mostly, innovation does not promise a straight path. Initiating change disrupts the normal flow of processes. So, expecting the course to be messy is indeed evident. It requires an enormous sacrifice and pain. The initiative demands a nerve to push through the trials and ultimately make your vision a reality. This scenario causes many change efforts that fail that can be traced back to a “failure of nerve.”

  • Forgiveness liberates the soul.

Bill Clinton, who was then the president of the United States, had a conversation with Nelson Mandela. The writers cited the scenario that transpired while Mandela was released from prison.

Clinton watched the event and noted details on Madiba’s countenance. Clinton observed the precipitous anger on Mandela’s face as he walked from his cell room. Swiftly, his anger seemingly disappeared. Then, with Clinton’s interview chance with Mandela concerning the matter, Madiba replied,

I’m surprised that you saw that, and I regret that the cameras caught my anger. Yes, you are right. When I was in prison, the son of a guard started a Bible study, and I attended. That day when I stepped out of jail and looked at the people observing, a flush of anger hit me with the thought that they had robbed me of 27 years. Then the Spirit of Jesus said to me, ‘Nelson, while you were in prison, you were free, now that you are free, don’t become a prisoner.’ (Freiberg, 2018)

It tends to be natural coercion to experience anger with people who do us wrong as human beings. It becomes automatic to retaliate with those who deserve our vengeance. But, Mandela chose differently. He breaks away from hatred, and he allows forgiveness to consume his heart. He once said, “We don’t have to be victims of our past, that we can let go of our bitterness, and that all of us can achieve greatness.” Mandela is authentic in his mission of forgiveness and reconciliation. He firmly believes that the inner aspects resonate with the outside entities.

  • End goal defies egoism.

Determined as he is, Nelson Mandela never recoiled. He conscientiously fought for what he believed in – the noble cause of all.  Nonetheless, Madiba remained at his feet. As a fervent leader, he firmly pronounced that principles should not be compromised and not degrade the opposition.  Madiba underpinned the importance of non-violence treatment with the opposition. He quipped that a person couldn’t make peace with his enemy if he was unwilling to cooperate and treat them with dignity. He valued the essence of collaboration and agreement.

Being imprisoned for 27 years, Madiba has released forgiveness. For him, ending right is far more vital than being right.  By inviting his jailers to assist him in initiating radical changes, he emphasized a significant array of integrity and forgiveness.

  • Transformation resounds from within.

The valuable lesson his imprisonment imposed on him was to create genuine self-change and improvement. The change would significantly affect the South Africans in terms of equality, freedom, and reconciliation. One of the most profound legacies Madiba taught us is to be human above everything. Nelson Mandela was aware of the fact that he would be an effective leader if he is a renewed person.

As I end my narration, I learned significant academic and life lessons in this subject. It really inspired me to do better and take my leadership status as an opportunity to initiate change.

I acknowledge that I will still have a long way to go before I reach my goal. However, I believe that this academic pursuit equips me with vital wisdom as I climb the ladder of career growth and success.

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