This is the intellectually disciplined process of observing, analysing and creating ideas. Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. The world has very few critical thinkers who always try to live reasonably, rationally and empathetically. They are often aware of human nature and the kind of thinking that emanates from it. If left unchecked, irrational human counterparts are often on a path to destruction. This is where critical thinkers come in. Critical thinkers swoop in and think diligently, analyse the situations at hand and give an empathetic and informed judgement.
One of the world’s renowned critical thinker was Nelson Mandela. He helped fight for the freedom of the people of South Africa. This was despite the court acquitting him for treason. He arranged for underground meetings to sabotage the apartheid rule. He later founded Umkhonto we Sizwe (spear of the nation) which spearheaded the armed struggle for independence.
On 11 January 1962, Mandela used the name David Motsamayi to secretly leave South Africa. He needed to get through the road blocks and various identity checks, and this was the best perceivable means. Getting out of the country was a big problem and his men on the ground needed to learn from other states that have won their independence. Tanzania, for instance, has recently won its independence and was a source of inspiration among other African countries. By paying a visit to these countries, he was able to even see how best to govern the country after the departure of the white man. His big idea was to mobilise the rest of the independent states in Africa to help with funding and manpower.
The kind of exposure Mandela got had a big effect on the decisions he made while he was president. He was accommodative of the whites even after South Africa attained its independence. This move was strategic in that; the corporations and the developments the Boers had started were able to continue peacefully though under a different regime. He learned that the country was normally left in shock after the whites were chased away. Most of the times the developments went down, and most companies were closed down. Alienating the whites only made us like them or worse. Mandela, therefore, incorporated the Boers into the government and he in turn won the Nobel peace prize alongside FW de Klerk, who was the president in power. He was later handed the instruments of power as the then leader of ANC.
While in prison, he received many conditional offers. Had he agreed to them, South Africa would not be where it is right now. During the sentencing in court, Mandela told the judge and the public that witnessed it that he was not for the idea of minority rule, but wanted an equal country with equal opportunities regardless of the skin colour. These are the insights of a man who used reason and sense. Despite how the whites treated his people he still had no intentions for revenge but only to make the lives of everyone better. Such empathy is mostly seen in people with a mind able enough to see that there is no good reason to hate or discriminate one another.
Currently, South Africa is rated to be a leading African country alongside Egypt and other well-to-do developing countries. This, among others, is the fruit of critical thinking. The strategies laid down, and the process of attaining independence may have taken longer than most African countries. This has, however, helped improve the lives of the South Africans immensely. The infrastructure is worth making an example of and the education system among others.
Zimbabwe is a far cry from South Africa yet it attained its independence earlier. The leadership was handed over to Mugabe, who chased away all the whites in the country. His hatred to date has not born much fruit. Zimbabwe has been sanctioned from many international organisation. Besides that, Zimbabwe people wallow in poverty, and the authoritarian rule by their leader is not helping. This clearly shows how much critical thinking is useful in the development of self and the courses one pursues in life. A rational approach always puts you many steps ahead of the irrational minds.
Mandela is known worldwide to be an icon of equitable and fair distribution of opportunities. He is a leader, who is not like most African leaders. He may have won South Africa its independence, but he stepped down after one term as promised and focused on more constructive things. He had missed a lot in life due to prison and needed time with family. Most leaders in Africa do not concede defeat and stay in power regardless of the choice of the people. Democracy was his gospel, and he never wavered. This is a big lesson to learn and big shoes to fill. Africa would be a better place if we had more Mandelas.
Paul, Michael Scriven and Richard. Critical Thinking Community. 2013. <http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/410>.
The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela. 2013. <http://www.nelsonmandela.org/content/page/biography>.