Nelson Mandela—When the Power of Nice Changed a Nation

On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela, the heroic leader of South Africa's Liberation Movement who helped end apartheid in his country, passed away. His loss triggered worldwide attention and countless testimonials. I, like so many others, greatly admired the way he lived his life. Mr. Mandela and his methods are a fitting coda to this book. Excerpted below is an op-ed piece I wrote for The Baltimore Sun just prior to his passing, focusing on his approach to negotiation and the lessons that other leaders could learn from it.

  1. I wondered…what lessons the leaders of our polarized political parties might learn from the example of Nelson Mandela. He did not succumb to pure partisanship as he led South Africa from the violence and repression of Apartheid to a multicultural functioning democracy. When Mr. Mandela was released from prison in 1990, South Africa's racial and political divisions were in many ways sharper than the economic divide that is tearing our Congress apart. Mr. Mandela negotiated his path to South Africa's presidency and his nation toward reconciliation by doing something which appears unthinkable to many leaders today: taking into account the interests and feelings of the other party while seeking to achieve his own objectives.
  2. President F. W. De Klerk, who had ordered President Mandela's release from prison, engaged in discussions with him for almost four years on the future of the South African government ...

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