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It was partly this status in prison — for he must have understood the effect of his own personality on his captors — that empowered Mandela to set out on a mission that would entail his release and culminate in his ascendancy to the presidency of the country. While alerting him to his own vulnerability, prison was also a place where he came to terms with himself, his predicament and the conundrum that faced his country. Although meant for his wife, who certainly needed his support to survive one of the bleakest periods of her incarceration, when she suffered from periodic bouts of claustrophobia, the advice was also directed inwardly — especially the part where he suggested meditation nightly before going to sleep.

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It was this sense of discipline that contributed to the peculiar aura of gravitas surrounding Mandela. In his early years on Robben Island, he found himself imprisoned with a cross-section of South African society. There were of course the grand old men of the struggle, like Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki, to name a few. He crossed swords with Harry Gwala and countenanced the frustrated belligerence of people like Strini Moodley, who held that the old-timers were too tame.

The toll was especially high in the aftermath of a series of states of emergency enforced first in The intensified repression was aimed at countering heightened — and widespread — resistance, which was inspired in the main by the Mass Democratic Movement. Appalled at the level of desperation, Mandela could see the country easily turning into a wasteland.

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It is not often that we can count ourselves lucky for having witnessed the making of history. The official announcement signalling the dismantling of apartheid with the release of Nelson Mandela in February is as etched in my mind as could be V-Day, the assassination of JFK or of Martin Luther King, Jr, or — much later — the day the planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York for a succession of generations.

As there is something ineffable about these moments, and memory is sometimes unreliable, it is always advisable to get them corroborated by other witnesses. Here, the poets who have a licence to dream on behalf of their communities are especially helpful. To her and others like her, we owe a commitment to the poor, the oppressed, the wretched and the despised. For Mandela, who had always prized children and childhood, it was inevitable that he saw the symbolic connection between the death of one child as an example of a dream deferred.

He reasoned, however, that a death must not be in vain but should galvanise all to create a liveable future for all South Africans. He wrote, and said:. It is, however, his five-year presidency that has come under scrutiny, because this was where he was responsible to the totality of the South African citizenry and not just to the ANC.

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In this period, a blip in the hundreds of years it took to manufacture modern-day South Africa, he must have appreciated that he would become weighed down by the burden of expectation from a populace in need of a quick miracle. He was a ready-made scapegoat and messiah all rolled into one; the tension between these two poles would have led many straight into a madhouse. He had seen from history how some leaders that might have come to power via a popular mandate were overthrown on the strength of a faltering economy.

Mandela was familiar with the case of the late Chilean socialist president, Salvador Allende, who came to power when the country was in the grip of severe economic crises. To make matters worse, he was trying to build a socialist society through the nationalisation of industries in the face of unemployment, inflation and widespread malnutrition. Aware that the goodwill that derived from the peaceful transition would not last unless leveraged upon — and cognisant of the dire consequences of an underserved public — Mandela knew that the biggest hurdle to overcome was the one of socio-economic transformation.

Growth and development, Mandela would note, were more than interdependent; they were mutually reinforcing. Addressing inequalities, he maintained, would expand markets at home, open markets abroad and create opportunities to promote representative ownership of the economy. The expansion of the economy would raise state revenues by expanding the tax base, rather than by permanently raising taxes. However, many analysts point out that great strides were made in delivering some of the Freedom Charter aspirations in the early years of the new South Africa. Dawie Roodt, chief economist at the Efficient Group, says:.

The ANC had once been greatly enamoured of the social democratic model it had seen in various countries, especially Sweden; here, they saw a seamless relationship between government, labour and the private sector, to the extent that the boards of large corporations had trade union representatives.

That option has not been exercised in that country for decades. In truth, however, the complex question facing South Africa today — the economic quandary the country faces today, the runaway unemployment, the unacceptable levels of inequality — simply means that an anomaly in the negotiations became the recessive gene carried in the bloodstream of our democracy.

He had a handpicked team, which, one believes, was also blindsided when it came to the question of the future implications of the economy. Let us be honest and say that we would have been satisfied if more people could concretely feel the impact of social change. The compromises reached in order to set up building blocks towards the emergent democracy had left the ANC with very little leverage in terms of economic clout. On 3 January , two events, a birth and a death, took place within minutes of each other.

Another prophetic poet, who I mentioned earlier on, was Keorapetse Kgositsile. Then, suddenly, he was gone, after a short illness. The second event was the birth of my grandniece, Chloe. He was meticulous in ensuring that an archive of his life would be made as accessible and as comprehensively as possible. The collections housed at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, vast as they might be, are by no means able to present him in sum, however, this man who towered above his contemporaries at home and abroad.

His gaolers tried to force the bitter destiny of the Book of Job on him: His remembrance shall perish from the earth and he shall have no name on the street. The concluding lines from Departure From the Isle of Torments by the late former South African poet laureate, Mazisi Kunene, capture the essence of that long journey of a man whose intellect and emotion — head and heart — were the essential qualities for the management of a most trying transition.

For one, the isolation of prison, the enforced hibernation, became a refresher course in survival. The media, print and broadcast, was awash with a face that had become as ubiquitous as spring air — and as revitalising. Old black-and-white pictures flickered across screens: Mandela in a group photo as a year-old student at Healdtown Comprehensive School; in a portrait wearing traditional attire; in , standing next to Ruth First at an ANC conference in Bloemfontein; in , singing among fellow accused at the marathon Treason Trial in Pretoria; a bearded Mandela bulked up by army fatigues, standing with Algerian Army commanders in Across the globe, television sets beam contrasting images of a youngish Mandela in his jackal-skin kaross worn toga-like as he strides defiantly in slow motion during his trial for leaving the country without a passport and inciting a strike.

He was sentenced on 7 November to five years in prison. There are many more, a catalogue of the various incarnations he has had to pass through. The most enduring images, however, are of Mandela as a free man, a man who embodied freedom with such assuredness that it became synonymous with his name. In all this, the making of Mandela the symbol can be credited to the regime that threw him in prison. In Nelson Mandela handed power to Thabo Mbeki, who served as South Africa's second democratically elected president. The presidency of the ANC is held in high esteem for the simple reason that it confers on the incumbent the stewardship of the National Executive Committee, a council that could, if need be, bring about a resignation of the state president.

Ndebele observes that a leader,. For Mandela, leadership was mainly about advancing the cause of others, because he understood how they — especially strangers in neighbouring countries who suffered untold misery in sanctions and cross-border raids launched by the South African military — had paid a huge price.

These are men and women, known and unknown, who have declared total war against all forms of gross violation of human rights wherever in the world such excesses occur. Therefore, when he was in various circumstances required to comment on the leadership in, say, the Southern African Development Community, he stressed the importance of serious planning for regional growth and development.

These were not mere words or the rehearsed platitudes that characterise speeches in summits; coming from a generation of hard idealists who had grown up in the principle of a united Africa, Mandela believed that the current crop of leadership could turn the tide against poverty and inequality in the region. None of us can achieve sustainable growth and development, or peace and stability, in isolation.

Today, as South Africa and the world gear up to celebrate the centenary of his birth, the inevitable question comes up: What would our country be like if Mandela had not stepped into the breach to assume leadership at a most perilous period of our history? Aligned to this question is the subtext in current debates about the economy, where queries are being raised — oftentimes with a real purpose to elicit knowledge and sometimes with an aim of breaking down what is held to be the mystique around Mandela — about whether the negotiations in the early s were skewed against the black majority.

Was the Mandela project a massive sell-out? Behind these unasked questions — one is helplessly forced to conclude — are justifications for the fancied sell-out: They were scared of the white man. Commentators tend to approach the debacle — the human tragedy — that characterised South Africa from its inception as a colonial construct to the present moment, where it struggles to integrate its discrete pieces into a coherent whole, much the same way sports fans do a post-match analysis.

Armed with the advantage of hindsight and instant replay technology, the analyst can reimagine, but never quite empathise with, what took place in the arena. The act of recreating the past is always subverted by the gaps lying between what has been experienced by the flesh-and-blood actors — the gruelling trial that informs their decisions — and our collective grasp of their actions long after the noise of battle has died down. It is always tempting, when dealing with a venerated figure like Mandela, for commentators who wish to ascribe to him an unassailable saintliness to urge detractors to remember what it was like back then, meaning that, given the overwhelming odds stacked against him, it would be understandable if Mandela capitulated and quailed before his captors.

But all evidence points to a man who was single-mindedly steadfast in his quest to create a democratic and non-racial country of the future. The hardship was a temporary inconvenience, a time when he had to do the groundwork for a radical change, especially in the heady s when repression in the country increased, a sign that the regime was losing its grip. Or, put differently, if there was some residual inferiority to the white man roiling in the mind of leaders like Mandela.

Mandela gave an emphatic no, because, he said,. We cannot today realistically know what Mandela et al felt when faced with incarceration. We have his word and the testimony of his compatriots. We do know, however, that it was a grim period, which none of us, certainly not the children of the dispossessed, would wish to revisit. What we can take from what we know about Mandela is that he strove to enshroud himself and those around him with dignity that makes it hard for the enemy to unravel.

From their arrival in prison, he insisted on being addressed as Mr Mandela.

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It is here, also, that his counter-intuitive stance towards leadership proved equal to the task: Through the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which allowed for a long cathartic moment, violators of human rights stepped forth and owned up, thus ensuring some form of closure for their victims. To use a crass metaphor, a father builds a house but cannot be blamed for the incapacity of his children to improve on the dwelling. He had many transgressions, some of which would convert into virtues, in the scheme of things.

Without verbalising it, he embodied what is credited to one-time president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, that leadership is the other side of the coin of loneliness and that, acting alone, the leader must accept everything alone. Mandela knew fully well that the ANC was viscerally opposed to the idea of talking to the regime. Aware of the hostility to those talks, which were dismissed as enemy manoeuvres, OR Tambo had to steer a cautious course.

But the practicalities of the times — the ouster of the ANC from Mozambique, cross-border raids in neighbouring countries and the clamour of Umkhonto weSizwe fighters that they wanted to go home — coalesced into an acceptance of the reality of a negotiated settlement. It would, of course, be accompanied by an intensification of armed actions inside the country. Isolated from his support network, watching the carnage against defenceless people being played out on the daily news bulletins, Mandela started tentative steps towards brokering a negotiated settlement.

He had consulted Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and Govan Mbeki about this intention — and was told in no uncertain terms that this was a very bad idea. Much later, alone, Mandela went into action. Mac Maharaj has said that Mandela was a man who took responsibility for his action. Having decided that the time had come for talks to start — an impulse no different from the moment he decided on armed action — Mandela knew he would have to go against the advice of the prison collective.

In time, the collective — which also involved Oliver Tambo in Lusaka — accepted the strategy of talking to the enemy. He accepted that, in the event of the plan blowing up in his face, he would carry the can. Each generation has come up and defined its mission; land and economic transformation, twin imponderables that have been left unaddressed for centuries, stand out and cry for resolution.

A new cadre of leaders asks questions and challenges the answers given as being not enough. Sometimes the questions go to the very legitimacy of the Constitution, an enduring irony given the provenance of the Constitution. What is significant is that the country has come to growth. The youth, dreaming dreams and hoping hopes, strives to carve out a reality that will ensure their own survival.

They too will in time grow old and drag their increasingly disgruntled children into meetings and councils, to plan on how to change their lots. And Chloe, my grandniece, will not remember her hour of helplessness and hunger.


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The world will move on, secure in its moorings. There is no doubt that Mandela, a modern titan, was as much the creator of history as he was its product. He could have chosen other routes to usher in the democracy that we now enjoy; he, however, chose alchemy of head and heart, logic and compassion, to coax out of a complex and volatile society, something of value. Wednesday 18 July Nelson Mandela signing the Parliamentary Bible.

Mandela the pacifist, Mandela the warrior: I fear the end of peace and I wonder if that is perhaps why our memories of struggle refuse to be erased. A chilling account by journalist Janet Smith, writing in , typifies a day in the life of a black South African under apartheid in the period that Mandela mounted his challenge: Many of the farmers compelled their workers to dig up the potato harvest with their bare hands, and those who could not keep up, or became exhausted, were beaten unmercifully.

Head and Heart: The Lessons of Leadership from Nelson Mandela

For those who want to dig deeper still into this concept, check out the webcast version of the Transmedia Entertainment panel from the Futures of Entertainment Conference. Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story. So, for example, in The Matrix franchise, key bits of information are conveyed through three live action films, a series of animated shorts, two collections of comic book stories, and several video games.

There is no one single source or ur-text where one can turn to gain all of the information needed to comprehend the Matrix universe. Transmedia storytelling reflects the economics of media consolidation or what industry observers call "synergy. A media conglomerate has an incentive to spread its brand or expand its franchises across as many different media platforms as possible.

Consider, for example, the comic books published in advance of the release of such films as Batman Begins and Superman Returns by DC owned by Warner Brothers, the studio that released these films. These comics provided back-story which enhanced the viewer's experience of the film even as they also help to publicize the forthcoming release thus blurring the line between marketing and entertainment. The current configuration of the entertainment industry makes transmedia expansion an economic imperative, yet the most gifted transmedia artists also surf these marketplace pressures to create a more expansive and immersive story than would have been possible otherwise.

Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories. This process of world-building encourages an encyclopedic impulse in both readers and writers. We are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp.

This is a very different pleasure than we associate with the closure found in most classically constructed narratives, where we expect to leave the theatre knowing everything that is required to make sense of a particular story. Extensions may serve a variety of different functions. For example, the BBC used radio dramas to maintain audience interest in Doctor Who during almost a decade during which no new television episodes were produced.

The extension may provide insight into the characters and their motivations as in the case of websites surrounding Dawson's Creek and Veronica Mars which reproduced the imaginary correspondence or journals of their feature characters , may flesh out aspects of the fictional world as in the web version of the Daily Planet published each week by DC comics during the run of its 52 series to "report" on the events occurring across its superhero universe , or may bridge between events depicted in a series of sequels as in the animated series - The Clone Wars - which was aired on the Cartoon Network to bridge over a lapse in time between Star Wars II and III.

The extension may add a greater sense of realism to the fiction as a whole as occurs when fake documents and time lines were produced for the website associated with The Blair Witch Project or in a different sense, the documentary films and cd-roms produced by James Cameron to provide historical context for Titanic. Transmedia storytelling practices may expand the potential market for a property by creating different points of entry for different audience segments. So, for example, Marvel produces comic books which tell the Spider-man story in ways that they think will be particularly attractive to female a romance comic, Mary Jane Loves Spiderman or younger readers coloring book or picture book versions of the classic comicbook stories.

Similarly, the strategy may work to draw viewers who are comfortable in a particular medium to experiment with alternative media platforms as in the development of a Desperate Housewives game designed to attract older female consumers into gaming. Ideally, each individual episode must be accessible on its own terms even as it makes a unique contribution to the narrative system as a whole.

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Game designer Neil Young coined the term, "additive comprehension," to refer to the ways that each new texts adds a new piece of information which forces us to revise our understanding of the fiction as a whole. His example was the addition of an image of an origami unicorn to the director's cut edition of Bladerunner , an element which raised questions about whether the protagonist might be a replicant.

Transmedia producers have found it difficult to achieve the delicate balance between creating stories which make sense to first time viewers and building in elements which enhance the experience of people reading across multiple media. Because transmedia storytelling requires a high degree of coordination across the different media sectors, it has so far worked best either in independent projects where the same artist shapes the story across all of the media involved or in projects where strong collaboration or co-creation is encouraged across the different divisions of the same company.