Tag Archives: Nelson Mandela

Thoughts on Leadership as Inspired by the Life and Choices of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela International Day brings with it a call to action believing that we all have the power to change the world.

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

“Umbuntu, ‘We are growing/Growing higher and higher.’ Thoughts on leadership as inspired by the life and choices of Nelson Mandela, ‘Hear the children, hear the children/They are talking to you

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Tune in for a special reading by the author and read along with the text below:

Author’s program note. She was discovered whilst cleaning other people’s houses. Even there she had “it”. Her employers were so impressed that they taped her singing and sent the tape to a recording company. One thing lead to another and the woman soon to be known as “Lady Africa” was “discovered” by Alan Paton, who gave her a part as a chorus singer.That was in1964. The poison called Apartheid was in full effect. But Lady Africa had that which would not be denied. Call it talent, call it fate, call it the right sound, call it destiny, call it luck. Soon she was singing to South Africa while showing the world that the spirit of the nation still lived, despite everything that could be done to suppress it. Her name was om (1938-2000), and she sang her way into eternity with a number you need to hear to get full value from this article. It is “We Are Growing”. Despite the fact that she suffered from the consequences of a 1980 stroke, she soared in this1986 comeback which became the theme song for the television series “Shaka Zulu”. Go hear it now in any search engine. It is the heartbeat of a great people, a people that Nelson Mandela helped make greater still. Know them… learn from them… fly with them… “Ayoyo, oh, oyo/ Bayete, Inkosi”. “Be a man of greatness now… Be a man of wisdom now… Be a man of kindness now/ This is what you are/This is what to be.” Let us begin…

,,This is an article that will be read by adults… but more importantly that must be read to children… because they need to know and understand that they are the most important people in all our lives, and we all have the responsibility to ease their often frustrating and difficult ways to the farthest extent possible. Study leaders. Learn leadership from those who lead. Scrutinize! Understand! Emulate! In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) wrote of how he learned the crucial elements of leadership, large and small, by watching the ruler of the AbaThembu. He was the greatest figure in young Mandela’s life… and thus a person worthy of the study. This person of consequence obviously understood the critical importance of instructing the young. Mandela wrote, “I always remember the regent’s axiom. A leader, he said, is like a shepherd, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

Now. Not later.

When was the last time you took child in hand, be that a gleeful five-year-old or surly, truculent teen-ager and opened a candid discussion on leadership? In your answer is how much you want that young person to succeed. My father, for instance, Donald Marshall Lant, now very near the conclusion of 9 decades, had at his instant disposal a person whose story he insisted his children know and follow.That person was General George S. Patton (1885-1945). “Find the man in the furthest trench… Find the muddiest soldier there… Find the man leading from this trench… and you will have found General Patton.” We learned he was a man of decisive action… a man who lead from the front… a man who followed Teddy Roosevelt’s famous formula for success, “Do the best you can… with what you’ve got… where you are.” “You wanted to follow such a man… for he was doing what needed to be done. Helping such a one is a privilege, no matter how onerous, difficult, or exacting the task…” As for me, Father, I remember, I remember. Some lessons abide, appreciation for them never ending. This was such a lesson.

Select Your Leader.

Luckily, Mandela had his leader close at hand, but not all of us are so fortunate to have an amiable monarch of pedagogical inclinations near. Thus, select a leader to befriend. Here’s how to do it… Start by drawing up a list of local leaders, people you know, know of, clergy, educators, writers, politicians, military officers, civic worthies, union and business leaders. These people, some of whom may live and work in your neighborhood, are more accessible than say, Pope Francis, although you should not neglect His Holiness. He clearly has a most congenial way with young people.

Write (note I did not say type) a letter that mingles unabashed admiration with a plea for their understanding and assistance. Such a letter is a minor art form and goes something like this. (I need hardly say that properly presented, such a missive is irresistible): “Honored one, I present myself to you for an honorable purpose… to learn from you and become in the process a better person. Will you allow me to know and study you? I am just 15 years old and am at what my parents call an impressionable age. It would be a matter of the utmost significance if you would allow me to be impressed by you and so have your important deeds and actions chronicled by me.” Like I said, properly presented, such a missive is irresistible. Include your biographical details. You may use a resume, though this is not an (immediate) job application. Your most winsome and arresting photo should be included; (be sure it isn’t the classic of you on a white bear skin rug in the altogether.) That may be misconstrued. Add a recommendation or two from an adult, preferably a teacher, pastor, or other eminent personage who knows you and realizes that all future leaders begin here, needing a bit of help to commence their thousand mile journey.

Steps to building a leader.

Now you are ready to begin.

1) Deliver your request in person whenever possible. If not send by a carrier that requires a signature.

2) Always include your phone number and e-mail address. Include your social network page.

3) If you have not received a response within two weeks, send an e-mail or telephone your designated leader. These folks are busy; help them out by following up.

4) Be prepared to speak to your chosen leader. Brainstorm what you will say and WRITE IT DOWN.

5) Schedule a convenient time to meet with your leader for that all-important first encounter. Remember, you never get a second chance to make the best first impression.

6) Before the meeting get a scrap-book and collect everything you can about this person. A scrap-book is essential for this project and must be kept up-to-date, especially for this crucial first time.

7) Make sure at least one parent or adult accompanies you to this meeting and testifies to your seriousness of intent and good habits.

Be sure to look the part of the young leader for this and all future meetings. Slovenly look and demeanor are completely unacceptable. Too, make sure your cell-phone does NOT ring during the meeting; this is a must. “Hear the children, hear the children/ They are talking to you.” Whether you’ve ever considered the matter or not, you must know that every child, of whatever age wants not just to be liked but far more important to be respected and admired, in the classroom, on the playing field, within any given organization or the broader community, or even worldwide. Your help is crucial in achieving this critical role. Are you doing the necessary?

1) Set the objective, ensuring that each child has a leadership goal.

2) Help the child, which means assisting and advising, not doing the work needed. If you do that you’ve defeated the entire purpose.

3) Ask for regular reports and follow-up. Do not assume there is progress. Know.

4) Praise whenever possible, critique softly but always honestly. This is essential.

5) If the necessary communication between young person and designated leader breaks down, intervene and with deft handling put the matter back on track. Finally, when the project is well advanced, arrange with your leader a meeting to share the scrapbook with all its valuable insights into the important matter of leadership.

Be sure a photographer is present to record this auspicious moment for an awaiting posterity. Send it to your local newspaper; post it online in social networks with appropriate caption. If you’ve followed the steps in this article, you may be sure the leader’s incandescent smile is real, not assumed. Then ask her for a recommendation… for, remember, leaders leverage each and every action to achieve still greater renown. Then sit-down and congratulate yourself for you have given your child the necessary leg up. You’ve done, in short, what good parents do… and you have every reason to feel pleased with yourself, not least because you exemplify the crucial concept of “umbuntu”, that is “you are open and available to others, affirming of others… with a proper self-assurance.” “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”… we rise not alone, but through other people.” And this is the most important leadership lesson of all.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 40 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com


His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

Now Write Your Story Down –

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Of Nelson Mandela – An Appreciation.

In celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day

We bring from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

Mandela! Dead at 95, December 5, 2013. An Appreciation.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Tune in to hear a special reading by the author, Dr. Jeffrey Lant and read along with the text below.

Author’s program note. One evening several years ago I was dining in London  with two of the nicest (and most charming) people I know, Lord and Lady Mackay  of Clashfern. Born the son of a railway signalman, after a lifetime of zealous  study and application of the law, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher appointed  him Lord Chancellor of the realm, the equivalent of Chief Justice; a position  he honored from 1987-1997.

During the course of the kind of delightful evening only the British know how to  arrange, everything perfect, nothing ostentatious and the best table talk on  Earth, I asked Lady Mackay who was the most impressive person she had  met in all their travels. Her answer was swift and sure: “Nelson Mandela”.

She talked, as all discerning people talk, of Mandela’s megawatt smile,  of how he looked her in the eyes, of how she felt his full attention whilst  he was speaking with her, and how she felt his serenity and peace. Then  the question that the world has always wanted answered: how after 27  years in the bleakest of prisons had he managed not only to preserve his  sanity and the best of what makes us human, but to emerge with love, real  love, in his heart, not corrosive anger, hatred, and rancor. Mirabile dictu, these  were absent, no sign at all of his Via Dolorosa. And this, to her, to me, to all,  was as a miracle.

And because he personified the very essence of optimism and hope, I have  selected such a song for the music to accompany this article. Go now to any  search engine and find “Free Nelson Mandela”. It is a song written by Jerry  Dammers and released in 1984 as a protest against Mandela’s imprisonment.  Unlike most protest songs, this track with lead vocals by Stan Campbell is  upbeat and celebratory… the perfect sound for a man who knew the power of  hope and therewith changed the world, one smile at a time, love his constant  guide, staff, policy, and credo.

Born an aristocrat.

Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela was born July 18, 1918 in Mvezo, a village in  South Africa’s Transkei region, on the southeast coast. His father, Henry Mgadla  Mandela, was village chief and a member of the royal house of the Thembu  tribe. He died when Mandela was just 9, when he became a ward of the Paramount  Chief Dalinyebo. Nosekeni Fanny Mandela, his mother, was one of his father’s four  wives.

At age 7 he was given a new first name by his schoolteacher, in honor of  Horatio (Lord) Nelson, the most famous British seaman, whose victory over  the combined French and Spanish fleets in 1805 at Cape Trafalgar accelerated  British colonization of Africa, a matter pertinent to Mandela’s future.


Like so many revolutionaries, Mandela’s early years were privileged years.  He was educated at Methodist schools and attended the University College of  Fort Hare. He was an avid sportsman, ran cross-country and boxed. His hero  was heavy weight champion Joe Louis.

He was a good student, liked school and was popular. People knew even then  that he was special, great things sure to come. Such a paragon needs must be  married and so his legal guardian arranged a suitable match;  Mandela disagreed  and so became the run-away groom, supporting himself as a law clerk, earning a  bachelor’s degree from the University of South Africa in 1942.

“One thousand slights, a thousand indignities.”

Ever since St. Paul entered the revelation business on his celebrated journey to  Damascus, people have scrutinized important people for the moment they  experienced an epiphany, destiny, fate, kismet. Albert  Schweitzer, for instance,  had this moment on the Ogooue’ river in French Equatorial Africa; (now Gabon.)  “Reverence for life.”

But Mandela recalled no such epochal, defining experience, the moment he  crossed the Rubicon. Instead his politicization was a thing of years, decades,  pinpricks subtle, humiliating, and never ending.

It all added up to this, “Kaffir man, you are black. Kaffir man you are God’s  garbage. Kaffir man look down, look down, for that is where you must stay.” And  upon this fundamental basis a system for total control was evolved, white against  black, forever apart, adamantly divided one from the other, the white minority to  rule forever, the black majority to be ruled and submit, without cavil or complaint if  possible, with brute force if not.

The name of this system was Apartheid, “separateness” in the Afrikaans  language  of the ruling elite, and the system, conceived and legally implemented from 1948 in  hate, fear, bitterness and woe was as close to hell as mortal man could conceive and  develop.

Apartheid touched everyone and everything. It crushed the oppressed… it corrupted  the oppressor. No one under Apartheid was free, not oppressed, not oppressor,  for the system ruined all. It was a deal with the Devil, and the Devil took his toll,  every long minute of every bitter day.

At last the Devil grasped at Nelson Mandela… but the Devil soon knew this man  would not submit. And so even the Devil was confounded by the invidious system. No  one was immune and untouched but one person refused to accept the intolerable,  though that would have been the easy way, the way of least resistance.

That person was Nelson Mandela, and we cherish him not because he recognized  a moral evil. Many did, including brave members of the elite who made their  aversion clear. It is not merely because he acted against this pernicious system,  many did that, too. It is rather that he learned the essential task of embracing the  oppressor who condemned them both to a system of despair and destruction yet  rose above, to love in response to every calculated insult, every vulgar and  demeaning humiliation, every affliction, every action intended to devalue, diminish,  and degrade.

To each, to all, in every situation, he returned love… thereby redeeming a great  people from the sin they could not free themselves from alone. Members of the  elite though they were, responsible for every outrage, they more than ever needed a  man of destiny to save them…. and Nelson Mandela was that man, though there was  nothing inevitable about his rise to eminence and political importance. Instead, as  he was insulted as a black man over and over again he advanced in his  determination to right this wrong.

As he was humiliated as a black man over and over, so he vowed to do his part to  overturn the egregious apparatus of state-sponsored racism. Instead, as he was  demeaned in every aspect of his humanity, so he was adamant that this must be  stopped here, now, forever… and he said he would do his part, though death be his  portion.

Is it any wonder these great lines from “Julius Caesar” were his favorite? “Cowards  die many times before their deaths/The valiant never taste of death but once.” And  he was the most valiant of men. However as we all know, discretion is the better part  of valor… and discretion is a matter of experience and education.    The more he knew, the more he observed, the more he considered, the more he  moved towards his ultimate goal — freedom– something far more important than  mere retaliation and revenge.

This all took time, pains, focus, commitment and resilience.  It was never overnight,  never easy, never the work of a single day, and it took the faith that moves mountains.  Thus Mandela, so often in prison from 1956 to1990, created himself, examined himself,  crafted himself and  moved towards becoming the man he needed to be and all the  people of South Africa needed him to be for the great work at hand.

>From Communist to non-violence, essential elements in his “Long Walk to Freedom”.

Like so many black men around the world, Mandela was at first determined to  use any means to topple a system that systematically devalued him and his kind.  If the transition could be peaceful well and good. If not… then let the chips fall where  they may. Freedom might well need weapons, and these weapons might have  to be used.

This was the Great Fear of the white minority and many blacks. And it was very  real, a thing of apprehension and profound anxieties, a Reign of Terror far  greater and more bloody than Robespierre’s. The possibility of such a bloodbath  was always present and who can doubt that if Mandela had continued to advocate  violence as he did in his early career the “beloved country” would have cried indeed?  “If this man wasn’t there, the whole country would have gone up in flames.” This is  the considered opinion of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the man who won the Nobel  Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993.


Here was the problem Mandela faced. Particularly young black men pressed him  for action now, armed action if necessary, war a l’outrance .They demanded “results”,  damn the consequences. Following this bloody course would have activated the full  power of a powerful regime with catastrophic consequences for all. This was the policy  of Apocalypse, and if it had been implemented South Africa would have drowned in its  own blood.

He knew the undeniable attraction of this adamant position. After all, he had once  advocated this line himself. But as he matured he knew he had to take a very different  course than turning the land he loved into a battlefield. He needed to stay focused on the  big picture, the policy that would save the nation, not destroy it; ensure freedom to all, not  deny it to anyone.

To ensure this end meant keeping the hotheads in line while using their undeniable  power to press for constructive resolution; to use their outrage to bring constructive  interaction, to bring forth harmony from rancor. This was difficult, often frustrating,  perplexing, baffling. And it demanded statecraft of the highest level; statecraft perfected  in a 7 feet square prison cell he occupied at a maximum-security facility, Robben Island,  near Cape Town. He spent 18 years there before being transferred to a less isolated prison  on the mainland.

“You have no idea of the cruelty of man against man until you have been in a South  African prison with white warders and black prisoners.” Under these circumstances  Mandela could have perfected hatred and bile, becoming the merciless Angel of  Retribution. The world would have understood this, but Mandela chose a different  course, the harder course, the course of freedom, liberty… and a united South  Africa, a destination almost unimaginable in the acrid years after 1948… the years  when the regime denied Mandela sun glasses. He suffered permanent eye damage;  but it was the ruling authorities who were blind.

Thus, simultaneously he had to let the members of the elite know that they had to  make compromises to appease his followers, who could not be expected to be patient  forever. A declared Communist at first, this orientation estranged  the United States,  which continued to support the rigidly anti-Communist regime, that being far more  important in Washington, D.C. than civil rights. It was an understandable position,  but only exacerbated an already confounding situation.

Through this maze of bewildering possibilities, many contradictory, often repugnant to a  nose-holding degree, Mandela had not only to maneuver… but he had to grow. The fate of  millions depended on it. And bit by bit the world came to know it, nowhere more than in  Boston, Massachusetts, a city which revived its revolutionary heritage by supporting  Mandela’s.

There on June 23, 1990, I took advantage of the opportunity to see and hear the last of the  great racial liberators, Mahatma Gandhi, The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mandela himself. All three were men of privilege and learning who put their comfortable lives on the  line for something of worldwide impact and importance; men who had to master themselves before they dared to ask others to follow.

Of course, I had to see the last of these titans and so along with over a quarter million  other souls, many radiant, all of good cheer, I trekked to the Hatch Shell on the  Esplanade alongside the Charles River. Here Mandela, just released from prison, made  his first remarks to America and its iconic City on a Hill. He said little, told us nothing new.  He didn’t have to.

He was the man who had cleansed a great nation of its debilitating burden, thereby  saving that nation and the lives of thousands; thus even the tiniest tot knew something  special was happening here and remembered. Then he smiled at the delirious crowd,  danced on stage to the delight of all, thence speeding on his way to immortality.

At that moment every person in that undulating sea of humanity felt better, happy, glad  to be reassured that a single person could make the world a better place and do it  without revenge, retribution, retaliation, or the slaughter of a single person, black or  white. That is the legacy of Nelson Mandela, and its relevance will never dim or tarnish.  We must all see to that…

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 40 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com


His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

Get a FREE Copy of “Create An E-Book Today. Publish It On Amazon.com. Profit From It for the Rest Of Your Life!” by Dr.Jeffrey Lant Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE

George Quacker Production

Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.

All Rights Reserved


Of Black History Month

www.writerssecrets.com Famous People Series for Black History Month

Black History Month which according to Wikipedia started out as

Negro History Week (1926)

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.”[1] This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.[1]

From the event’s initial phase, primary emphasis was placed on encouraging the coordinated teaching of the history of American blacks in the nation’s public schools. The first Negro History Week was met with a lukewarm response, gaining the cooperation of the Departments of Education of the states of North Carolina, Delaware, and West Virginia as well as the city school administrations of Baltimore and Washington, D.C..[4] Despite this far from universal acceptance, the event was regarded by Woodson as “one of the most fortunate steps ever taken by the Association,” and plans for a repeat of the event on an annual basis continued apace.[4]

At the time of Negro History Week’s launch, Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society:

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.”[5]

By 1929 The Journal of Negro History was able to note that with only two exceptions, officials with the State Departments of Educations of “every state with considerable Negro population” had made the event known to that state’s teachers and distributed official literature associated with the event.”[6] Churches also played a significant role in the distribution of literature in association with Negro History Week during this initial interval, with the mainstream and black press aiding in the publicity effort.[7]

Negro History Week was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. Negro History Week grew in popularity throughout the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday.[1]

Black History Month (1976)

The expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month was first proposed by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of the Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970.[8]

In 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial, the informal expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. President Gerald Ford spoke in regards to this, urging Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”[9]

United Kingdom (1987)

Black History Month was first celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1987. It was organized through the leadership of Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, who then served as a coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council (GLC) and created a collaboration to get it underway.[10] It was first celebrated in London and has become a national institution.[3]

Canada (1995)

In 1995, after a motion by politician Jean Augustine, representing the riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore in Ontario, Canada’s House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month and honored Black Canadians. In 2008, Senator Donald Oliver moved to have the Senate officially recognize Black History Month, which was unanimously approved.[2]

See more at the Source of this article: Wikipedia

We will be featuring articles on

Maya Angelou at: http://writerssecrets.com/maya-angelou-lashes-out-on-paraphrase-at-the-new-martin-luther-king-jr-memorial-and-shes-right/

Martin Luther King at: http://writerssecrets.com/americas-newest-national-monument-debuts-dedicated-to-the-reverend-doctor-martin-luther-king-jr-what-we-must-never-forget-about-the-man-and-his-resounding-message/

Nelson Mandela at: http://writerssecrets.com/of-nelson-mandela-an-appreciation/

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Join in for the Writers Secrets Session with Dr. Jeffrey Lant as we cover topics like how to write for Black History Month

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