Day 7. Nelson Mandela teaches us about doing what’s right and not what’s easy during lockdown

During his time in prison, Nelson Mandela was given the opportunity by the South African Apartheid Government, to set himself free. The terms were that he denounces violence and dismantles ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe, the military ‘Spear of the Nation’.

He refused.

The question is Why? Why didn’t Madiba take the easy way out? Why didn’t he save himself a lot of pain and suffering?

The reason is, he had a higher calling and purpose than his own welfare, even his own life.

I believe it was the power of his vision and a growing awareness and understanding of this personal calling and purpose, that drove him to make the choices he did. He had to do what was right – not what was easy – for him.

We too have this challenge…

The power of vision

As young student Nelson Mandela became aware of the inequities taking place. Deep down this must have stirred an awareness of a personal purpose and calling to oppose and rectify injustice. He knew there was a better life – and a better way of obtaining it. He decided to become a lawyer.

Creating a better world

It has been obvious that Nelson Mandela had this inner driving force fired by his desire to create a better world.

Although Madiba began his studies at the University College of Fort Hare, he was expelled for joining in a student protest. Fortunately, he later completed his BA degree through the University of South Africa in 1943. This was the beginning of his revolt against suppression by both black and white.
Madiba’s vision was:

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”[1]


Nelson Mandela was even willing to give his life to fulfill this purpose. Madiba as prepared to offer self for the higher good of everyone. He was prepared to sacrifice self.

He held steadfast to this vision and calling. irrespective of the cost to self. He was even willing to give his life to fulfill this purpose.

Nelson Mandela knew the power of doing what was right and not what was easy, in order to maintain focus and fulfill his mission.

We too can learn from Madiba’s life philosophy of doing what’s right – and not what’s easy.

Lockdown is not easy

Lockdown is not easy. It’s disrupted life all over the world. Businesses could fail while markets plummet and world economics are in the balance.

To save this economic situation, it would be easy to lift the lockdown and precautionary measures to curb the Covid-19 virus pandemic. However, within a few short months, values have shifted.

The value of health, life and quality living is now a higher priority than economies, money and business. All decisions are now centered around this one unified global focus. The safety, health and wellness of the people are now priority

So, although not easy, we do what is right. We stay at home and save lives.

The question is: What do you and I do when confronted with difficult decisions?  

A strong person

It takes a strong person, who has a clear vision and deep awareness of a personal purpose and calling, to stand steadfast under all and every challenge. Perseverance is the key if you want to achieve anything worthwhile and of value.

Self-denial means giving up the easy stuff – and standing up for what is right. Sometimes this is difficult for the shadow ego-self is a hard taskmaster that won’t let go of its ill-gained control without a fight.

The question is: Where do you and I stand?

South Africa in lockdown

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lockdown in South Africa, starting at midnight of Thursday 26 March. Like everyone, else I prepared myself emotionally and mentally and stacked up on fresh fruit, veggies, snacks and chocolates.

As the sun rose, early Friday morning, I woke up with a sudden awareness that Nelson Mandela too had his ‘lockdown’ period and wondered what he would have liked to teach us during this time.

Flying blind

I knew in my heart, I had to write Life lessons from Nelson Mandela during lockdown.

I had no idea where this would take me or what I needed to do with this information. Although there was this inner driving force and heartfelt calling to write about Madiba and his lockdown period, I had no idea what the content would be.

I was flying blind…

Writing the daily teachings from Nelson Mandela

As the day unfolded, I had this inner urge to go back to the research done about Madiba in 2014. The book that followed was titled; Sevens steps to securing the Madiba Magic in life and leadership.[ii]  

Suddenly it came to me and I just started writing. There’s no planning, no script, no outline or preparation. I just did it… and still do.

Madiba was willing to give his life to fulfill this purpose. Madiba was prepared to offer self for the higher good of everyone. He was prepared to sacrifice self. My little effort looked pale in comparison to his. By the afternoon an email was sent out to share this with others. It’s not meant to entertain or as a quick fix. It’s meant to bring enlightenment…

The other option was of course to just veg out in front of the TV until lockdown was over.


Everyday I’m astounded by the day’s outcome. I was doing what was right – not what was easy – for me. Now it’s being shared with you. You have the choice to follow or not. So, we’re in this together.

Since the first day, I’ve just been listening intently to my inner voice. I hear a title and then just let it flow. This is not a mind thing – it’s a heart thing. I was surprised to realise that Madiba was teaching me, and all of us, to listen and think with our hearts.

Time and effort

I know, you who are reading this now, need to concentrate and work through this work. Some of the pieces are quite lengthy. Others are a bit more complicated, challenging, even heavy. It’s not always easy to stay focused. It cost time and effort.

The question is: Will you and I see this through to the end of lockdown? Some will – others won’t.

Breaking through the brain barrier  

The reason is we have a brain barrier. The current world teaches us about quick fixes, our attention span is about 8 seconds, time is of the essence and people want instant, short and sweet.

However, it took Nelson Mandela about 28 years in his lockdown to break through his brain barrier. He merged on a totally new level. An ordinary man emerged an extraordinary leader. So can we – and it needn’t take many years. However, we need to put our mind to it, make it a priority and persevere.

Breakthroughs don’t come easy. Breakdowns do. It’s a question of choice.

The purpose

We too need to do what is right for us – and not what is easy. The purpose is to become more self-aware, raise our conscious and to emerge on a whole new level by turning everyday ordinary people like you and me, into extraordinary influencers. If these daily messages from the Mandiba-wisdom, can help us on our journey – what a blessing. It can only fast-forward our progress.

My hope is that we stay with this till lockdown is over. The Madiba-wisdom has so much still to offer…

To do list

  • Assess your values, focus and priorities prior to lockdown.
  • Now assess what has already changed. Do you keep to the lockdown rules although it could be financially detrimental? What values and priorities have changed? Why?
  • If you’ve kept up with each lesson from’ Nelson Mandela teaches us…’, you’ll know by now this is not for the feint hearted. How do you feel about breaking through your brain barrier? Will you be able to go back? Why? Why not?
  • What offers will you need to bring in order to secure your breakthrough. Remember – everything has a price. Are you willing to pay whatever your life demands in order to grow and evolve? Why? Why not?
  • If you want to catch up and previous lessons see. Website: Stay up to date.
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Stay safe – Stay connected.

Brenda Hattingh


[1]  Mandela, Nelson, R. (1994). Illustrated. The long walk to freedom. The          Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Little, Brown & Company: London.

[ii]  Hattingh, Brenda. (2014). Sevens steps to securing the Madiba Magic in life and leadership. Currency Communications (Pty. Ltd.); Johannesburg.