Leadership in a Time of Transition: An Analogy between Post-exilic Judah/Yehud and Post-apartheid South Africa

  • Daniel Francois O'Kennedy Department of Old and New Testament, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch
Keywords: Leadership, Joshua, Zerubbabel, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu


There are certain analogies between the post-exilic community in Judah (or Persian Yehud) and post-apartheid South Africa. According to the OT two prominent leaders took responsibility for the rebuilding of post-exilic Judah: the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua (cf. Ezra, Neh, Hag and Zech). Two prominent leaders made a major contribution in post-apartheid South Africa: president Nelson Mandela as political leader and bishop Desmond Tutu as religious leader. This article will make a comparison between these two different communities and their leaders. The article will briefly discuss the respective leaders and will focus on the following analogies: both communities had an influential political leader and a religious leader; the diarchic model of leadership lasted only a few years in Judah and in South Africa; the concept of forgiveness played a significant role in both communities (cf. Zech 3 and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission); there was a temple building process in Judah and a process of nation building in South Africa.

Author Biography

Daniel Francois O'Kennedy, Department of Old and New Testament, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch
Part-time lecturer and research fellow


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