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Nelson Mandela: Anti-apartheid hero dies.

Nelson Mandela led the fight to end apartheid, government-sanctioned racial segregation in South Africa, ultimately succeeding with the odds stacked against him. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

5th December 2013

Nelson Mandela's unwavering courage, forgiveness and hope touched and inspired people all around the world. He showed that the dream of a just society is possible and he challenged our generation to lead the way towards it.

As Mandela said in his extraordinary 2005 speech in London's Trafalgar Square, 'Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.'

And he ended his speech with a call that moves us still.

'Sometimes,' Mandela said, 'it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.'

One way to honour Nelson Mandela's memory is to share those words to prove every day that this generation can be the great one that ends extreme poverty.

The life story of Nelson Mandela is well known, and elevated him to the level of such widely recognised heroes as Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. There was indeed much courage, sacrifice, wisdom and nobility in his life -attributes that demand our deep respect and have much to teach us.

What is less well-known is how Mandela evolved into the kind of strategic leader who, from prisons on Robben Island and elsewhere, helped to bring genuine democracy to South Africa. For example, while isolated from his fellow prisoners by force, he steered secret government meetings toward the abolishment of apartheid and free elections. Subsequent to that, he became the country's first democratically elected black president.

Mandela's remarkable story holds valuable lessons for other leaders involved in deep struggles, foremost among which are the importance of holding firm to a morally just vision and the ability to influence a sequence of key strategic decisions over time (decades, in his case) in order to bring about truly remarkable results.

Three decisions especially stand out in Mandela's evolution as a strategic leader. To appreciate these fully, however, we need to understand some of the social and political contexts that shaped his career and values.

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Tom Roche (trading as) Just Forests Ltd.
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