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Nelson Mandela as a Strong Leader in The Film Invictus

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The Invictus is a biographical movie talking about the leadership of Mandela on the Nation of the South Africans. The film is also based on a book. “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation.” From the book title, one can easily deduce that the Film Invictus looks into the life of Mandela whereby it revolves around his efforts and the strategy implemented by him in trying to unite the South Africans (Teays, 2017). The previous periods before the coming of Nelson Mandela the Apartheid had done South Africans badly. South Africans were heavily divided along racisms lanes, and when Nelson Mandela ascended to power, he had a lot of objectives to meet. In trying to fulfill his targets as the president, he met a lot of challenges, and it was not easy to unite his country people.

Morgan Freeman played Mandela’s role in the movie. Mandela is caught in between trying to cool down his fellow blacks who felt oppressed and the whites who had jailed and tortured him in the jail. As a leader, he had to quell the fears of the whites and try hard to gain their trust to enable him to lead as a leader effectively. When Mandela got into office as a president, Mandela retains the office workers and bodyguards from the previous government. It is through the rugby game that he saw an opportunity to unite the South Africans together. Having identified the potential in games in uniting his people, Mandela organizes a world cup match that would be attended a year later by all the participants in the world. As a leader Mandela can thus be said to have been an opportunistic leader, He saw the opportunity in organizing the world cup trophy which was to be hosted in South Africa and in turn he succeeded in achieving his goal.

The film consists of leadership as a major theme, and therefore it is portrayed throughout the film. For instance, Mandela as a leader was devoted to eradicating Apartheid. He even went against his people’s wish to eliminate the Springboks team. They complained that they were revenging for the Apartheid actions rallied on them by the whites. Mandela can be said to have been a firm leader. He could not compromise his thoughts and beliefs. Whatever he believed in is what he did. When his people wanted the team disbanded he told his friend that the people were wrong. According to Mandela’s believes leadership does not involve following the public opinion, but it entails persuasion and convincing the people from their passions to inline activities to just or fair principles.

Moreover, in his meeting with Francois, he consulted Francois the better ways in which he can sharpen his leadership skills. Mandela wanted to inspire his juniors into being future and better leaders. According to him, leaders ought to live under the principle of encouraging them to become their best. He portrays the principles of being good and doing better by asking a black bodyguard to forgive a white bodyguard (Van der Westhuizen, 2016). Having spent close to 30 years in jail and finding the heart to forgive the whites depicts what Mandela expected of his country.

Leadership as a trait requires an understanding of human nature. His friend had accused him of playing to the base political calculation by supporting the continuation of the rugby team even though the people never wanted its continuation. In his reply, he trusted the process and patience that the people could change their mind someday. His method involved replacing hate with love. Additionally, through sports, he intended to establish unity, and he would easily replace the hate with love (Van der Westhuizen, 2016). Through ethics principle by Aristotle, the citizens could form goodwill towards an athlete, and the goodwill will unite the team to the nation and the nation to itself and hence peaceful coexistence and unity. Mandela as a leader understood the influence of sports on their nation. Not only will it solve their economies problems such as job and national defense it will also help in building peaceful political leaders.

Even though the people did not quite understand how the rugby game was played, with him, he trusted the process and believed on the principle that winning was not the end but the means of achieving his objectives. Even though a fanatic of Rugby maybe disappointed but to other people like Christians fans they need not be disappointed with the principle of football being the means and not the end. He successfully implemented his idea of opposing the crowd to bring them towards him. He told them that as Christians they needed to stay truthful to themselves.

Mandela was a strong independent leader who believed in himself as he declares that he was the master of his fate and that he was the captain of his soul. Despite being imprisoned by the whites, that did not stop him from interacting with them and getting to achieve their trust.


  • Alter, G. (2016). I Am the Captain of My Soul. Invictus in the EFL classroom. Feature Films in English Language Teaching, 129.
  • Teays, W. (2017). Show me a class that’s got a good movie, show me: Teaching ethics through film. Teaching Ethics, 17(1), 115-126.
  • Van der Westhuizen, J. (2016). South Africa’s soft power conundrum: How to win friends and influence people in Africa. Journal of Political Power, 9(3), 449-465.

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