Nelson Mandela’s Ideology

Nelson Mandela is one of the most iconic political figures of the 20th century. He was a man who fought for freedom and equality in South Africa during a time when the country was divided along racial lines. As the first black president of South Africa, Mandela helped heal the wounds of apartheid and bring about a new era of democracy.


Mandela’s political ideology was strongly influenced by his upbringing and experiences in South Africa. He was exposed to traditional African culture and beliefs as a child, which shaped his views on equality and social justice. He firmly believed in Ubuntu, a traditional African concept that can be translated as “humanity” or, more literally, “I am because we are.” Ubuntu emphasizes the interconnectedness of all human beings and the importance of community.

As a young man, he was greatly influenced by the writings of Jamaican-born activist Marcus Garvey, an advocate for black self-determination. Garvey believed that black people should be proud of their African heritage and should fight for an independent state. His idea of black nationalism inspired Mandela to fight for the rights of his people. Although Garvey’s more violent ideas were not something that Mandela fully agreed with, they nonetheless played a role in shaping his political ideology. Garvey expressed the need for black people to have their independent state, while Mandela would go on to fight for a South Africa in which black and white citizens are equal and can live harmoniously.

Mandela was also influenced by the Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi. He was impressed by Gandhi’s use of nonviolent resistance to achieve political change, and he would later use this same tactic in his own struggle against apartheid, at least initially.

Another less well-known influence of Mandela was Karl Marx. With some of his fellow African National Congress (ANC) leaders, Mandela studied Marxist ideas and how they could be applied to the South African situation. He even joined the South African Communist Party (SACP), which at that time, was banned.

Core Belief

The apartheid system in South Africa was the greatest influence on how Mandela expressed his ideology. The system of racial segregation and discrimination that was in place during his lifetime served as a powerful motivator for him to fight for change. Seeing the effects that apartheid had on his people, Mandela was driven to end the system and create a more just and equal society.

Mandela’s ideology can best be described as a mix of traditional African beliefs, black nationalism, socialism, and nonviolent resistance. However, if we were to boil it down to one core belief, it would be that of human dignity in the context of equality. Mandela believed that all human beings are equal and deserving of respect, regardless of race or background. This is reflected in the South African Constitution, which states that everyone has “the right to have their dignity respected and protected.”