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ITGS 400

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Explorations in Leadership


This related for Module 7 (Read Mandela Part 8)

Response Posts: Respond to the posts of at least 2 other students. Each response should be at least 150 words. Statements like “I agree/ don’t agree” are not helpful unless they are supported with arguments and reasoning. Remember everyone’s right to freedom of speech and the importance of ensuring a safe environment by being respectful: we don’t criticize people, we argue thinking.


Geena Miles,

This week in Long Walk to Freedom, we walk with Mandela through his dark years on Robben Island. The Island can only be reached by plane and is truly a test of isolation from the outside world. However, Mandela will not find himself all alone here, he is met with a mix of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Using tiny scraps of paper hidden in their shirts, dispersions of newspaper stories, and match-boxes, Mandela and his small political crew manage to spur up communication methods. Communication in prison, as Mandela sees it, is essential to keeping comradery and morale high. Being one who is never satisfied with unequal and unethical treatment in prison, he is also the one continuously filing complaints against the prison for the betterment of him and his fellow prisoners, showcasing a dedication to the struggle within the Island itself. Although political prisoners and general prisoners were kept separate (as to avoid “political poisoning” of the general prisoners), the two rival groups eventually establish a communication method as well. Instead of seeing these people as potential foes, Mandela saw them all as potential for conversion towards the struggle’s cause.

Despite many successes in Mandela’s leadership skills demonstrated on the isolated island, events of the outside world manage to strike him deeply. In this chapter, Mandela is subject to three major life events. First, his beloved wife is subject to harassment and eventually imprisoned due to the hardcore paranoia and speculation from the government. If having one’s spouse be in imitate danger was not enough to wrap one’s mind in paranoia, Mandela loses both his mother and his eldest son to death while in prison. Mandela expresses deep sorrow for not being able to bury his mother as it was his cultural duty to do so. I personally felt very touched and saddened by this outcome, but it is important to remember that we should not condemn ourselves for circumstances in which we have no power over.



Part 8 of Mandela describes his routine in prison. Inside just like outside he fights the oppression towards him and the inmates. He continues to actively practice his work for the cause through limited means but shows incredible resilience and determination. His protests about the clothing demeaning to the natives as a symbol of boys, the nauseating food degrading their ethnic background and the poor study conditions have yielded some successful results which proves his perseverance as a freedom fighter. His message is strong on solidarity, unity and won’t take any preferential treatment but for the inmates as a whole or nothing, just the same way he is fighting for the entire country. His stubbornness and bravery inspires inmates to gather with him in creating ingenious ways of communication to stay updated with the outside world secretly.

As a true leader he was able to scan the prison’s culture and understood the challenge to keep the inmates upbeat with faith with the goal to survive prison intact and not bound to be exploited by prison staff, as weakness is easily preyed on in that setting. Even through series of humiliation, it did not break Mandela, but that learning curve got him to rethink a situation with a more objective view and approached adversities with an appropriate behavior for alternative solutions. Throughout his presence in any situation encountered Mandela promotes integrity and preserves human dignity. As if being thrown in jail wasn’t enough, a chain of misfortunate news hit him hard one after another that proves to be personal. His mother’s passing after a brief visit, then his son Thembi’s fatal accident, while his wife losing her job and in and out of jail were really trying moments for Mandela as he felt powerless for his personal circumstances, yet a powerful leader of the whole country.

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