J O H A N N ’ S
Nelson Mandela influenced my governing strategy in three remarkable ways:
First, the principle of ubuntu, which identifies our common humanity as the highest good. In negotiation, avoid a winner-takes-all triumph. This strategy diminishes the humanity of the loser. If you cannot persuade to win agreement from your opponent, you always find the good in your opponent’s perspective.
Second, always disagree with your opponent without becoming disagreeable. Losing itutu (translated as “coolness”) is regarded as losing one’s humanity.
Third, as the son of a chieftain, Mandela developed the custom of chiefs; never speak until everyone has laid out their arguments. Synthesizing the best of all arguments, the wisdom of a win-win strategy—affirming the common humanity of all opponents—brings joy to heated and passionate deliberations.
This is how I implemented community advocacy in River Forest. River Forest residents have known me to state my case forcefully and passionately. I learned from Mandela’s perspective: don’t hate persons who differ with you. Interrogated and threatened with imprisonment by a South African official for standing on principles of vision, integrity, and advocacy, I’ll fight for the common good of all, even if consequences are dire. I bring Mandela’s strategies to serve River Forest.