Who is the actual Nelson Mandela of the Middle East? In these times of turmoil, desperation and hatred we need new kinds of political, religious and social leaders, men and women who could give hope and change this region and the world. I would suggest the following seven dimensions and aspects, but are open for other suggestions:
He or she should have a personality and a track record in the fields of:
Reconciliation: As Nelson Mandela showed after 27 years in detension, he came out not as a broken person fill of hatred and revenge, which probably whould have been the natural thing taken into consideration what we went through. Instead, he set a new path to reach out to his enemies and the apartheid-regime, despite the opposition from many of his colleagues in ANC and the majority black and coloured population.
Justice: Reconciliation without justice is difficult, if not impossible. Through concrete legal, political and social measures, the responsible political leadership entered into a transformation process of Truth and Reconciliation where the atrocities of the past regime were treated and later handled through the rules of law. This made both the minority white and the majority populations come to term with the past.
Equality: A leader like Nelson Mandela understood that humankind is created equal, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, political or religious affiliation. He contributed to one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.
Honesty and simplicity: A leader like Nelson Mandela wouldn’t seek personal financial gains and fortunes through or in connection with his office and authority. He or she would live close to his/her community and people. Guiding values such as transparency and shared leaderships would also be important in this regard.
Hope and change through an inspiring vision and concrete actions: Nelson Mandela had a bold vision with the ability to set up the measures to achieve it. He both talked the talk and walked the walk in a world of turmoil and change.
Dynamic personality: Nelson Mandela had the ability to read the signs of the times in the society and the world where he was living. He had firm convictions but also a pragmatic approach in dealing not only the people from his own community, but also with his enemies.
Humanity and a sense of humour: Leaders of the kind of Nelson Mandela has a sense of humour even during the most terrible and difficult moments. They are ready to share their grievences, weaknesses and also to give hope through their life style. Humour is in that sense an important asset.
So, do we any leader in the Middle East who could fill in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela in all of the seven mentioned dimensions above? My suggestion is probably not, but I have a couple of names that I would suggest in my coming blog.
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