In 1994 a close friend and colleagues of Nelson Mandela , Joe Slovo noted "Without Mandela South African history would have taken a completely different turn." Mandela played the role of a man who fought for justice, unity, harmony and forgiveness. His most admirable personality qualities included charm, dignity, loyalty, combined with his positive view on human nature and with out a doubt his intelligence. All of these aspects helped him succeed in establishing democracy in South Africa. But most of all as Anthony Sampson pointed out in his novel, Mandela was a political mastermind that knew what needed to be done and what had to be done to achieve it.
To understand Mandela it is important to appreciate his commitment to the African National Congress, the country's oldest and largest anti-apartheid organization that was founded in 1912. "Loyalty to an organization," he says, "takes precedence over loyalty to an individual."
A Canadian diplomat pointed out in 1953: "The ANC is a great deal more than a political party. Representing as it does the great majority of articulate Africans in the Union, it is almost the parliament of a nation. A nation without a state, perhaps, but it is as a nation that the Africans increasingly think of themselves."
Sampson makes a strong case for his belief that Mandela's 27 years of imprisonment was "the key to his development, transforming the headstrong activist into the reflective and self-disciplined world statesman." During that difficult period Mandela was not only a role model for other prisoners, but, in a sense, the leader of a government in exile.
Mandela's devotion to his goals led to terrible relationships with members of his own family; his political commitment "was at the expense of the people I knew and loved most."
Sampson explores both the...