Day 8. Nelson Mandela teaches us about preparation during lockdown

Just imagine being locked up in a small 2×3 meter maximum security cell with only a small bed, mattress and a Bible for years on end.

Just imagine

Just imagine, no PC, no Wi-fi, internet, Google or Netflix, no cell phone and no outside contact, whatsoever.  No wonder it would be easy to lose your mind.

However, Nelson Mandela emerged from his lockdown an inspired, motivated and most of all – prepared leader. He emerged a man for the time.

The question is: What happened during all that time?

I believe we can find an answer in the material Madiba read during lockdown.

Madiba and reading

Nelson Mandela was and arduous student and accomplished reader. At school he read widely. While he was in prison there was an opportunity to read from their small selective ‘library’.

Madiba had the opportunity and time to read numerous books, even very liberal books that included novellas by Nadine Gordimer[i], publications by Ernest Hemmingway[ii], books by Tolstoy that included War and Peace and others.[iii]

Books, like the Shakespearean plays, were smuggled to Madiba by his friends who were responsible for the library in prison.[iv]

Various memoirs and autobiographies[v] also made part of his quest to grow in a deeper knowing and understanding while becoming more competent in his quest and the inner calling of freedom for all.

Madiba also read the Bible.

Preparation during lockdown

The time spent in prison was a valuable tool in Madiba’s universal calling and personal preparation.

This too goes for us….

Before being sent to prison, he was in constant a struggle with the Apartheid Government. Most of the time he was on the run or travelling abroad, looking for support for the cause of the ANC.

However, during his imprisonment, Madiba came to a standstill. He had to stop. Without any preconceived planning, he underwent personal growth, global training and spiritual development.

Madiba could harness the power of the 3 S’s of lockdown – Solitude, Silence and Simplicity.

Madiba was now a student of the Universe. It was also a spiritual preparation for his task to come.

The question is: What is spiritual preparation?

Spiritual preparation

Spirituality is a universal concept. Each person has a body, mind, soul and spirit. We are a universal, spiritual or light being having a physical experience. Not the other way around.

Each soul has a spiritual purpose and calling. This purpose and calling are written as a DNA blueprint in every cell of our being. It is given in our mind and written on our heart. Unfortunately, we got disconnected.

To fulfill your spiritual calling and soul purpose, you need to reactivate this part of self. Sometimes we go through dark and difficult situations to be able to identify who we are and what our soul calling is.

Religion and spirituality

Religion is a human concept and interpretation of spirituality. Each religion has its own dogma, its own teachings, teachers and its books. Followers of each religion are expected to uphold these religious teachings and laws.

Madiba, never outright attached himself to any specific religion, because like Hemmingway and others, he was against blind faith.

Madiba said about blind faith religion[vi]:

Religion was a ritual that I indulged in for my mother’s sake

 and to which I attached no meaning,’

It appears Madiba clearly distinguished between blind faith religion and spirituality. Spirituality is not necessary religion. The hope is that spiritual Truth is the cornerstone or religion.  

Universal, spiritual truths.

However, it becomes evident that Madiba’s personal interpretation and implementation of universal spiritual truths, values and principles, as outlined in most of our frontline religions, shine through in his clear commitment to Freedom and quality living for all.

The question is: Where did Madiba find these universal truths?

Finding spiritual truth

I believe Madiba went within and found it within his own heart and soul. He also found answers in the people around him and the people he admired and followed.

His great friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was one of Madiba’s great influencers. So were many of his inmates during his time on Robbin Island.

During his imprisonment Madiba read about the philosophies and struggles of other ‘freedom fighters’. He also admired and followed the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Tolstoy and Martin Luther King.

Life after lockdown

Nelson Mandela never had any certainty that he would ever be released from Robbin Island – or even ever see his loved ones again.

However, there is life after lockdown. There will also be for us.

Looking back, it becomes evident that Nelson Mandela was prepared to fulfill a valuable role in the course of history. The real fulfilling of his purpose only started after spending nearly 28 years in lockdown.

This can also be true for us…

What did Nelson Mandela long for after lockdown?

‘One of the things that made me long to be back in prison

 was that I had so little opportunity for reading,

thinking and quiet reflection after my release.’

Nelson Mandela

This teaches us to make the best of our time available.

To do list

Here are a few ideas to help you on this path:

  • What are you currently reading and learning?
  • Is it preparing you for life after lockdown?
  • Is it entertainment – or is it preparation?
  • What do you do for entertainment? Is it wholesome?
  • How are you currently preparing your heart, mind, soul and spirit for life after lockdown?
  • Are your calling and purpose becoming clear?
  • Contact us if you need help, assistance and coaching.  
  • To catch up and previous lessons see. Website: Stay up to date…
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Stay safe – stay connected

Have fun


[i]   Gordimer, Nadine. (2012). Burger’s daughter. Bloomsbury Paperbacks. London

      Gordimer, Nadine. See all her novellas:

[ii]   Hemmingway, Ernest. (2002) For whom the bell tolls. Scribner Publishing.

      Hemmingway, Ernest. Old man and the seer.

[iii]   See his list of books on website:

[iv]   See:

[v]   See the other books, memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, Madiba read.

      -Cleaver, Eldridge. (1999). Soul on Ice. Delta publishers. New York.

      -Rockerfeller, David. (2011). Memoirs. Random House Paperbacks. London.  

     -Morrison, Lionel. A century of black journalism in Britain. (out of print)

     -Frasier, Malcolm & Simmons. The political memois. (out of print)

     -Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

                Council of  Europe. (out of print)

     -Nasser Al-Bader, Atiq. Dearest. (out of print)

     -West, Cornel. (2005) Democracy Matters. Penguin Books. London.

     -Tobias, Philip. (2013). Into the past. A memoirs. Picador Africa.

     -Gandhi, Sonia.(1992) Rajiv. South Asia Books.

     -Steinbeck, John.(2001). Grapes of Wrath. Penguin Books. New Ed Edition.

     –Nehru, Jawaharla. (2004) Glimpses of World History. Penguin Books.

     -Most books by Gandhi. 

     -Books by Tolstoy

     -The Bible 

[vi]   Mandela, Nelson, R.  (1994). The long walk to freedom. The

          Autobiography of  Nelson Mandela. Illustrated. Little, Brown &

          Company. London. p. 11.