Gandhi & mandela paper


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Gandhi & mandela paper

  1. 1. G A N D H I & M A N D E L A Bo o k Reviews HUMANISTIC APPROACH BY MISTY SIMS I was deeply affected and enlightened by reading Bhikhu Parekh book on Gandhi and Elleke Boehmer book on Nelson Mandela. Admittedly I did not know as much about Nelson Mandela as I did about Gandhi. I discovered that both men had a few things in common, and their respective authors did a great job in writing about these great men with a very humanistic approach.
  2. 2. G a n d h i & M a n d e l a Bo o k Reviews I began reading about Gandhi approximately thirty years ago because I was fas- cinated by his non violent approach to resolutions and his quest for truth. I too was on a quest for truth and believed in absolutes. I was an idealist. I read his autobiography and immediately my thinking began to transform. I recall that I would discuss Gandhi’s phi- losophy at every opportunity I could. Gandhi possessed the perfect balance of strength and humility, and a morality that sought the pure attribute of loving others. “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always” Gandhi Gandhi maintained a high view of God, and he relied on this for his own trans- formation. Gandhi knew “God is Truth” and this belief was core to Gandhi and was what equipped him in his ability to fight for India’s independence from Britons colonial rule. Gandhi was a man seeking truth and he lived out his philosophy daily not as an ideal but as “a moral compass with which to navigate one’s way through life” (Parekh p.115). He lived what he believed and journalized regularly observing his thoughts and gauging his spiritual and moral development, sometimes even with testing and ex- perimentation. Gandhi was a man of intelligence and of action. Gandhi needed to “mobilize” a whole country in the pursuit of independence from Britain (Parekh p.12). Gandhi im- plemented the use of symbols to unite people, like the spinning wheel. India’s society
  3. 3. G a n d h i & M a n d e l a Bo o k Reviews had been demoralized by colonial rule, the poor were repressed and beaten down and there was disgust for the manual laborer. By initiating symbols to solidify people Gandhi ignited unity and honor. Gandhi himself became a symbol for independence with his demeanor, clothing and walking stick (Parekh p.13). After reading through Bhikhu Parekh book on Gandhi I gained a new perspec- tive on Gandhi’s life. I really enjoyed the way Parekh portrayed the thoughts of Gandhi, his book was not a chronological discourse on Gandhi’s life but rather a discovery and disclosure of Gandhi’s ideas and thoughts. As well Parekh demystified Gandhi by por- traying him in his humanity, he challenged some of Gandhi’s ideas and revealed the thoughts of those who opposed Gandhi’s methods. He aptly explained the complexities of Gandhi. For instance in Parekh’s book I was able to grasp Gandhi’s intricate views on humanity, self introspection without self centeredness and the duty of each persons in- debtedness to society intertwined with Gandhi’s difficulty in accepting the possibility of irreversible innate barbarism of people. I discovered that Gandhi had even written a let- ter to Hitler imploring Hitler to reconsider his approach to humanity. Gandhi was a great leader and succeeded in accomplishing India’s independence from Britain’s dominating colonial rule. Gandhi lived his life according to his conviction “non- violence was definitely more powerful than brute force” and “It is difficult to think of many higher examples of morally sensitive leadership” than Gandhi’s (Parekh p. 125).
  4. 4. G a n d h i & M a n d e l a Bo o k Reviews Nelson Mandela was also a leader who fought for the liberation of his country. Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 into the royal family of Thembu, in the vil- lage of Mvezo in South African. South Africa like India suffered from the effects of colo- nization. Along with India, its native non white inhabitants were abused and subjected to racism. Apartheid, legalized racial segregation, (racism) became law in 1948 and it was one of the worst enduring effects of colonization for South Africa. In South Africa the majority of blacks were ruled by the minority of whites, and the government pro- grams like education for the blacks were deficient and substandard comparatively to that for the whites. Nelson Mandela was educated like Gandhi, in Christian schools formed by mis- sionaries and received his college education from a Wesleyan college. Both Mandela and Gandhi were educated in Evangelical Christian schools that incorporated responsibility to ones society with Christian social doctrines and social ideals, like the accountability platforms of Jesus Christ’s for one another and the ethics of salvation and ethics of good work. This environment was conducive to higher learning and training because it was not racially fueled, it was very influential for Mandela, “an environment that was rela- tively free of overt racial prejudice, is incalculable”(Boehmer p.84). Mandela became an antiapartheid activist and joined the African National Con- gress, ANC. He was eventually arrested and accused of treason and endured the Trea- son Trials of 1956 -1961, Mandela was eventually acquitted. But the ANC was banned
  5. 5. G a n d h i & M a n d e l a Bo o k Reviews after the Sharpeville Massacre and Mandela was forced to go underground along with other members of the ANC. During this time Mandela and others felt they needed a more aggressive approach to end apartheid. Mandela was arrested again and during his first imprisonment at Rodden prison, the ANC was investigated and the underground was exposed. There were tons of documentation connecting Mandela to his more ag- gressive military stance against apartheid. Mandela was again on trial for sabotage and eventually sentenced to life in prison. Mandela became a political prisoner along with his friends and associates in the ANC. Mandela was in prison for 27 years. During his time in prison Mandela developed and refined the art of communica- tion and negotiation. Mandela was deeply concerned for the suffering of humanity and desired the independence for his country from apartheid. Mandela was eventually re- leased from prison after the end of apartheid and became the first President of South Africa elected under non racial elections. Both Gandhi and Mandela fought for the independence of their respective coun- tries and were victorious. Core to their belief systems was their quest for the rights of humanity, dignity and equality. Both men were represented by their biographical authors within the scope of human frailty. Elleke Boehmer in her writing of Mandela described his evolution and varying stages as he grew into the leader he became. In a time when people are iconi-
  6. 6. G a n d h i & M a n d e l a Bo o k Reviews cally represented she brought forth the essence of the man and his humanity and strug- gles. Mandela’s difficulties with his family life were exposed, his flare for style and his physical stature as a man were revealed. I enjoyed reading these books as they described these men in a less iconic and mysterious realm. Yet maintained the essence of Gandhi’s and Mandela’s characters and the huge feats these men accomplished in leading their countries into independence from colonial oppressors. The material in these small books is vast on these leaders of independence and my knowledge and understanding of them has grown significantly and too extensive for this paper. But I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about them and gained a more personal in-depth view of the horrors of colonization.