“Mandela was filled with humility,
forgiving spirit and the ability to
unite people, sharply contrasted with
the utterances of some politicians who
speak as if ‘Nigeria is their bedroom’
from where they make proclamation
and intimidate others.” Goodluck
Jonathan of Nigeria.
When President Goodluck Jonathan
made the above praises after the
demise of Nelson Mandela, the weight
of the message was not realised until
after a leakage of a letter addressed
to him from former President
Olusegun Obasanjo.
Meanwhile in his tribute Chief
Olusegun Obasanjo stated that “we all
have the opportunity to act nobly in
whatever position we find ourselves.
When we teach our children the
lessons for tomorrow, let us be
reminded of the lessons Mandela gave
the world in forgiveness and
Those who read between the lines,
considering the rapid turn of events
within the period, would realise by now
that beneath the tributes are political
grandstanding and Public Relations
(PR) strategies by leaders in their
deliberate effort be relevant and be
so recognised. President Barak Obama
of America seemed to outshine others
in his tribute and actions during the
memorial on Mandela in South Africa.
Nelson Mandela was an embodiment of
great public relations: charming,
charismatic, eloquent and convincing
in his approaches. While protecting the
interest of his people, he was
harassed and jailed for 27 years
before his eventual freedom and
election as President of his nation.
He was a great communicator who
used his power of oratory and
conviction to mobilise and move his
people to action. He dignified himself
in and outside the office, such that
he eased the task of reputation
managers. Ironically, in other climes
such reputation managers who go with
such titles of spokespersons or media
advisers deserved to be managed
from wrecking havocs on the image of
their principals.
Going by the International Public
Relations Association (IPRA) code of
Conduct, the anti-Apartheid icon, who
died at the age of 96, exemplified all
the attributes of PR person. The IPRA
Code is an affirmation of professional
and ethical conduct for
communicators. The new Code which
was adopted in 2011 consolidates the
1961 Code of Venice, the 1965 Code of
Athens and the 2007 Code of Brussels.
The code urges communicators to
observe the principles of the UN
Charter and the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights and act with honesty
and integrity at all times so as to
secure and retain the confidence of
their people. During his life time,
Nelson Mandela insisted on the human
dignity and respect for human right
which engineered his struggle for the
emancipation of his people from
While PR communicators are enjoined
to establish the moral, cultural and
intellectual conditions for dialogue,
and recognise the rights of all parties
involved to state their case and
express their views, Mandela garnered
more friends as he embraced his
adversaries wholeheartedly. It was
indeed ironic that all those who had
fought him and called him terrorists
were among those singing his praises
while he was alive and after his
While IPRA urges its members to be
open and transparent, and to avoid
any professional conflicts of interest,
Mandela’s reluctant to seek for
extension of tenure was one of the
indicators that he had no hidden
agenda. In some countries, especially
in Africa leaders perpetuate
themselves in office for immunity
from prosecution for their
misconducts. He was a selfless leader,
who rather than making money for
himself as a lawyer and politician, he
was busy counselling the world on the
necessity of living peaceful.
The IPRA code of conduct strongly
admonishes communicators to honour
confidential information provided to
them. As a former President of South
Africa, Mandela must have had the
privilege of accessing information on
those involved in his incarceration and
the killing of blacks during the war
against apartheid and colonialism. He
never allowed those privilege
information to influence his sense of
judgement as a leader who was
neither petty nor vindictive.
Deception and misleading information
for political patronages are attributes
of propagandists who led their
followers and communities astray,
Nelson Mandela was a sincere and
honesty communicator who bare his
mind openly without any aura of
arrogance and intellectual supremacy.
Mandela avoided unnecessary
controversies as a man of peace. He
was very mindful of his utterances,
actions and the kind of friends and
allies he related with during his
sojourn on earth. As a global role
model, every word he uttered was
loaded with lessons and power to
mobilise people to good causes.
He is being celebrated not only for
being a freedom fighter but for his
spirit of public relations and
communication skills. We can obtain
any qualification such as Law,
Accounting, Medicine, Engineering,
journalism, architect, politics among
others, but we may need to imbibe
elements and principles of Public
Relations like Nelson Mandela to
communicate truthfully and
convincingly to win the supports of our
Indeed Mandela, the pride of African
and black race was truly a PR Man of
the Century.

Yushau A. Shuaib