His Excellency Nelson Mandela – The Epitome of Global Leadership

Epitome of Global Leadership - Nelson Mandela


On  December 5, 2013, the President, Board of Trustees, and Staff of Meridian  International Center honored iconic global leader, His Excellency Nelson  Mandela, (1918 – 2013), the first black President of South Africa.

In  1993, Mr. Mandela, then President of the African National Congress, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with then President F.W. de Klerk for their work in dismantling the  system of apartheid in South Africa. Because of this work and Mr. Mandela’s  tireless commitment, South Africa held its first democratic elections on April  27, 1994. This election led to Mr. Mandela’s victory as the country’s first black  president on May 10, 1994, with de Klerk as his first deputy.

As  President of South Africa, Mr. Mandela’s leadership was characterized by the  innovative ways in which he utilized the talents and strengths of South  Africans to integrate their society. One of the hallmarks of Mr. Mandela’s  nation-building efforts was his use of the country’s enthusiasm for sports as a  pivot point to promote reconciliation between whites and blacks, encouraging  black South Africans to support the national rugby team. Just one year after  the end of apartheid, South Africa held the world’s attention when it hosted  and won the Rugby World Cup, bringing further recognition and prestige to the  country. In 1996, Mr. Mandela signed into law a new constitution for the  nation, establishing a strong central government based on majority rule, while  guaranteeing the rights of minorities and the freedom of expression.

Mr.  Mandela also strived to protect South Africa’s economy from collapse during his  presidency. Through his Reconstruction and Development Plan, the South African  government funded the creation of jobs, housing, and basic health care. In  fact, much of Mr. Mandela’s efforts laid the foundation for the path of  economic development on which South Africa is currently embarked. Since  stepping down from the presidency in 1999, Mr. Mandela continued to serve as an  ambassador for South Africa and the fundamental tenets of equality and freedom.  Whether through critical roles in peace negotiations, efforts to bring the 2010  Football World Cup to South Africa, or the fight against HIV/AIDS, Mr. Mandela remained  a consummate statesman and an invaluable voice in the global community.

Ambassador  Stuart Holliday, Meridian’s President and CEO, remarked, “As a global  leadership organization, Meridian recognizes leaders who have contributed  dynamic, innovative, and collaborative solutions to the complex social,  political, and economic problems of our time. In this light, we see President  Nelson Mandela as the epitome of global leadership. Through his fight to end  apartheid, even during his 27-year incarceration, Mr. Mandela taught the world  that with unwavering commitment and perseverance, anything is possible. Today our  team honors President Mandela and his legacy. Our thoughts and prayers are with  his family, and the people of South Africa.”