Walk Barefoot

Shaun Dippnall
4 min readNov 24, 2019


Nelson Mandela

Activist. Revolutionary.

Freedom Fighter.



Imprisoned for a lifetime.

First Black President of South Africa.

260 Global Awards over 40 years.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

One of the great Leaders of the 20th Century.

The Long Walk to Freedom

Mandela spent 27 years in prison.

27 years.

He missed his children growing up; he never got to see them go to school; he missed their marriages, he could not watch them learn how to read, how to write, how to run freely down the streets with the wind rushing through their hair.

He was unable to bury his oldest son.

He lost a life with his family. It was taken from him. His family was ripped from him for doing what was right.

I can’t think of anything more difficult.

After Mandela was released you would think he would return an angry, bitter man out for revenge.

You would think he would be out to dominate the millions of South Africans who had devastated his people with their apartheid. The millions who had robbed him of his life.

But no.

That’s not how he was.

Instead he moved forwards with humility, with forgiveness, with a loving heart.

He had power, he had position.

He had the majority, he had the Presidency.

He had awards, medals and trophies all around him.

His response: forgiveness, peace, humility.

A Long Walk to Freedom.

A Long Walk.


Who suffers like that yet responds with such grace?

Rugby World Cup 1995

Rugby is a symbol of the old South Africa. It is the beloved sport of the Afrikaner, the game played on their farmlands for centuries with boerewors, beer and oppression crackling in the background.

It was an obvious sport to break apart. Change the emblem, change the name, destroy the history.

Instead Mandela supported the jersey and kept the name.

For the World Cup Final on home soil he arrived at the game wearing a No 6 Springbok jersey.

He was in the stadium cheering The Bokke from start to end. No-one was as ecstatic as him when they won.

He was there to help, to build his country, to model the behaviours he demanded from his people.

There’s a Zen Proverb about walking barefoot — It’s about staying grounded, about walking peacefully, about being one with the earth.

It’s about showing respect to the path you are walking, about honoring the journey you are on.

When I think of the great Nelson Mandela I think of him walking barefoot his whole life. As a youngster in the snow of KZN to a global icon over the streets of New York.

Humble. Peaceful. Respectful.

Warriors walk barefoot.

Only the strongest have it in them to walk like he did.

Walk Barefoot

Walk with gratitude. Walk with respect. Walk with purpose. Walk with your feet close to the ground.

Give thanks for the gifts you have been given. Never take what you have for granted.

Don’t dwell on your successes. Never count your trophies.

Don’t let your Ego get the better of you.

Focus on your cause. Remain subservient to your Mission. Know that you’re part of something much bigger than you.

Understand what your team needs and do that.

It’s not about you.

Remember where you come from. Don’t forget how lucky you are. Let your attitude be a tribute to your loved ones. Treat everyone you meet with equal respect.

Stay humble. Stay pure. Stay grounded.

Show respect. Treat everyone with the dignity they deserve.

Honor the path you have chosen.

Leave your pride at the door.

Walk Barefoot.




Shaun Dippnall

Father, husband. Dodgy author. Founder Chairman of EXPLORE