Case #1337.0

Nelson Mandela: The Man Behind the Symbol

Publication Date: January 01, 1996
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This is another in the series of "great leader" cases. (See also George Washington (Case # 479.0), Martin Luther King (Case # 365.0), and George Marshall (Case # 480.0). In its focus on the man who, against all odds, helped lead South Africa from apartheid to democracy, this mini-biography of Mandela raises a central question. What was it about Mandela which so equipped him for his historic task? What was there about him which led others -- even erstwhile antagonists, including his prison guards -- to defer to him and respect him? The case tracks the development of Mandela's political career, including descriptions of his origins as a member of a tribal royal family, his early days as a student political leader, and the events which enabled him to gain legal training and gradually to become a leader of "the struggle" against apartheid.

Learning Objective:
The case focuses on events and anecdotes that highlight the perceptions others (crowds at rallies, prison guards, opposing lawyers) had of Mandela, in an attempt to spark discussion of those elements of personality and style which create the aura of leadership.

Other Details

Case Author:
Kirsten Lundberg
Faculty Lead:
Philip Zelikow
Pages (incl. exhibits):
South Africa