Introduce the concept of leadership with examples of leaders.


This lesson plan for high school students introduces leaders from the modern history and provides a better conceptual understanding of leadership.


Students will be able to:

  • Gain insights about accomplishments, failures, and characteristics of Julius Nyerere, consider Rigoberta Menchu as a leader and finally choose an American leader they have already studied to evaluate.



  1. Introduce Julius Nyerere to students as the first and longtime President of Tanzania and a prominent Pan-African leader who was often called "Mawalimu".
  2. Ask the students to locate Tanzania and its capital, Dar es Salaam, on a map and explain that Tanzania includes the islands of Zanzibar.
  3. Introduce Ali Mazuri as an important Kenyan scholar who wrote this tribute to Nyerere on his death.
  4. Ask students to look as the read for at least two accomplishments, two failures and two characteristics of Nyerere as a leader. Together make a list on the broad or overhead. For examples check the list below:
  • Accomplishments
  1. Making Tanzania a frontline state for the liberation of southern Africa from Portugal and white minority rule including hosting training camps.
  2. Making Kiswahili the national language which contributed to nation-building.
  3. Uniting Zanzibar and Tanganyika- the only case of two nations joining together in Africa and surviving for three decades.
  • Failures
  1. African socialism or Ujamaa
  2. The political experiment of a one-party state
  • Characteristics
  1. Deep intellect
  2. High integrity

During discussion, ask such as:

  • Why did not the East African Federation of Tanganyika, Kenya, and Uganda work?
  • Why do you think it has been difficult for African countries to unite regionally?
  • Why were training camps for freedom fighters important?
  • What did the promotion Kiswahili contribute to the nation?
  • Why did Nyerere translate Shakespeare into Kiswahili?
  • What did Nyerere`s leadership have to do with a poor country like Tanzania being a major actor in Africa?
  • What do you think Mazuri admires most about Nyerere?
  • Who are the other African leaders who led their countries to independence in the mid twentieth century?
  • Who are admired African leaders now? (If students learned about South Africa earlier, talk briefly ask about Nelson Mandela`s contribution as a leader.)

Introduction and discussion of second article:

Women political leaders are more rare. Tell students they will now read a brief article about the Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu, who may run for president of Guatemala in 2003. Be sure students know the location of Guatemala.

The book, Rigoberta Menchu, told to anthropologist Elisabeth Burgos who published it, has been challenged as not being altogether truthful. Ask the students to think about "what is truth?" as they read and to consider what characteristics of leadership she possess. Ask students:

  • Is representing people, particularly people who have not been represented before and who have been horribly oppressed, a characteristics of a leader?
  • Is inspiring people a characteristic of a leader?

To illustrate the latter characteristic, read (or have a student read) from the conclusion of a biography entailed Rigoberta Menchu: Defending Human Rights in Guatemala:

Rigoberta believes that young have the opportunity to discover "what we adults haven`t been able to discover yet about humanity." She advises them to be creative and curious, and to explore life for themselves -not just to accept what others say about the way the world is, but challenge it to be better.

The message of Rigoberta Menchu`s life is that the world can be changed. Courage, love, imagination, and responsibility are the tools that she used. They proved to be stronger than grief, or armies, or even death itself.

In the face of painful difficulties, Rigoberta has kept her spirit and her hope. Her words offer an invitation for others to keep their spirits as well. "I think everything that is interesting on the earth is also a part of happiness," she has said. Not everything is lost. It is true that there is war and violence. The solution is energy, work, convictions, and giving of yourself with enthusiasm.

Encourage students to read the article of Global Issues: Gender Equality and Women`s Empowerment.

Facilitate a discussion to connect the articles and generate a better understanding of leadership.

  • Ask about their thoughts about leadership.
  • Highlight women in leadership and challenges they might face.
  • Ask for examples of other leaders they might know.


Challenges students to choose and do research on leaders in various parts of the world. They should come to a subsequent class ready to speak in that person`s voice about that person`s biography and interact in a "Reception of World Leaders." Use name tags, bring refreshments, and make it a requirement to talk to at least five other people over a half hour.

Two good sources for information on women leaders are the International Women of Hope posters (available from Bread and Roses, service Employees international Union, 330 West 42nd street, 7th floor, New York, NY 10036) and the Feminist press (www.feministpress.org) biographies in their Women Changing the world series, including Aung San Suu Kyi: Standing Up for Democracy in Burma; Rigoberta Menchu: Defending Human Rights in Guatemala; and Maried Corrigan and Betty Williams: Making Peace in Northern Ireland.

Framework and Standards

Enduring Understanding

Understanding some of the qualities and experiences that generated the accomplishments, failures, and characteristics of Julius Nyerere.

Essential Questions

What are some qualities of a good leader?

What is the importance of deep intellect and high integrity in a leader?




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