Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

This long walk to freedom!

Written by: on September 15, 2022

The heroic acts that led South Africa to freedom have paved a way to many other African countries seeking a way to freedom and stability for their citizens. Even after many years of struggle and attempts for such a freedom destination, countless of Africans still suffer from bondages than one can care count and the endless struggles to freedom must have taken a toll to some who have simply gave in to lifelong enslavement that only God knows the end.

Various forms of conflict continue to lead to problems like poverty, hatred and resentment hindering proper growth and development.[1] Even in South Africa when you look at the livelihood of those that Nelson Mandela and many of his fellow freedom fighters fought for, one would wonder if there is such a time as when freedom will come! In his Autobiography, Nelson Mandela writes at the time of his meeting with Lembede one of the men that inspired him so much towards his “Long Walk to Freedom” saying the following.

He hated the idea of the black inferiority complex and castigated what he called the worship and idolization of the West and their ideas. The inferiority complex, he affirmed, was the greatest barrier to liberation. He noted that wherever the African had been given the opportunity, he was capable of developing to the same extent as the white man, citing such African heroes as Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Haile Selassie. [2]

Isn’t it sad that the same challenges probably to a lesser extent that Nelson and Lembede struggled to defeat decades ago persist in our various societies around the world? Let us start by looking at the issues of idolization of the West and their ideas.

Speaking to a friend (a co-worker) a while back, he shared a story that had angered him of a congregant who stated, “Africans are lazy and that’s the reason they are poor”. My coworker shared he had reminded the congregant that most of the American prosperity was built by Africans who had been forcefully brought here as slaves, reminding her that even now Africans are still contributing a great deal to the development of the West.

There was anxiety about what Kenya would become after Kenyatta. Ubuntu was abroad in the post-uhuru Kenya. One could point to the opposite that had occurred in the Belgian Congo in the early 1960s, and more recently in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.[3]

As regards to the inferiority complex as the greatest barrier to liberation, I think it is indeed one of the evils left behind by decades of enslavement, colonial rule, and various dictatorships where people have gone to the extent of behaving worse than beasts, killing one another to advance their selfish interests. As I study Mandela and Tutu and their leadership towards Truth and Reconciliation the self-evident work that took South Africa to where she is today, it’s my hope more people of such courage and conviction will stand and lead in our world today.





[1] Grupp et al., “‘Only God Can Promise Healing.’”

[2] Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.

[3] Desmond, No Future Without Forgiveness.

About the Author


Jean de Dieu Ndahiriwe

Jean de Dieu Ndahiriwe is a Clinical Correctional Chaplain and former Child Refugee from War-torn Rwanda. A member of the Maxwell Leadership Certified Team, Jean is passionate about Servant Leadership and looks forward to seeing more leaders that inspire Lasting Peace and Justice for all, especially "the least of these".

7 responses to “This long walk to freedom!”

  1. mm David Beavis says:

    Hi Jean de Dieu,

    Your post reminded me of a quote from A Long Walk to Freedom. Mandela writes, “It was not lack of ability that limited my people, but lack of opportunity.” (Long walk to Freedom, p. 35). It is an understatement to say it is unfortunate your friend received such harmful words, and they are far from the truth.

    My friend, I am excited for further conversations with you as we learn together in South Africa. Mandela and Tutu are remarkable men who have fought against the inferiority complex you write about. I am with you in hoping for a future of courageous, conviction-led leadership.

  2. Audrey Robinson says:

    Jean, thank you for your post. I can certainly identify with the struggle of blacks in general to overcome inferiority complexes due to the idolization of the West.

    Over centuries, white dominant culture’s dehumanization has led to what we see today.

    One of the critical issues for me is the Church’s success at evangelizing indigenous people of color but the disconnect between their (people of color) beliefs and behaviors. Are those evangelized for the gospel’s sake truly set free?

    I look forward to future discussions.

  3. Jenny Steinbrenner Hale says:

    Jean, I am grateful for the chance to read your thoughtful and pointed blog post. I appreciate your honest sharing and am especially struck by these words of yours: “Isn’t it sad that the same challenges probably to a lesser extent that Nelson and Lembede struggled to defeat decades ago persist in our various societies around the world?” I am inspired to be part of creating communities where everyone has the opportunity to live up to their potential and achieve great things (according to their own definition), and experience abundant health physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

    I look forward to learning more from and alongside you in the next two weeks and in the next two years. Safe travels to South Africa.

  4. mm Becca Hald says:

    I can relate to being that congregant. I remember when I was filling out college applications in high school thinking that Affirmative Action was unfair. Why should someone get a spot ahead of a qualified individual based on the color of their skin? I did not understand systemic racism or the privilege I had simply due to my birth family. I hope that congregant was able to hear your friend’s words and change their perspective. I hope that I will continually grow and learn and push back against the racism I was taught and the racism that systemically exists in our world. Thank you for sharing and please call me out if I do or say something inappropriate.

    It was great to see you this past week. God bless you my friend,

  5. Alana Hayes says:

    “My hope more people of such courage and conviction will stand and lead in our world today.”

    What a beautiful sentence. I look forward to watching your leadership skills throughout our next year together.

    Let’s pray this sentence together!

  6. Growing together is my prayer! Philippians 1:6

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