Sunday 12 July 2020

Long Walk to freedom

Long Walk to Freedom
                                                By Nelson Mandela


·       The chapter ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ is an extract from the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, the first President of South Africa.

·       The chapter shares Mandela’s proud moments at the inauguration ceremony, initial parts of his speech offering his  tribute to all freedom fighters and countless martyrs.
·       It also mentions about his journey to   being a freedom fighter along with his struggle to get social and political justice.
·       Mandela’s life story is an inspiration to    all the strugglers and young aspirants and motivates them not to give up ever. His long and exhausting journey to freedom  and justice for all and becoming first South African president is a golden page in South African history.

Summary /  Synopsis

§  This chapter begins with the description of inaugural ceremony of formation of democratic government, which took place on the 10th  May 1994 in Union Buildings Amphitheatre where the entire nation along with world leaders from 140 nations attended the swearing in of a newly and fairly elected government creating an spectacular view of rainbow.
§  In his speech Mandela talks about the positive changes in the new democratic and non racial government and he takes pledge to award equal rights and a life of dignity to his people without any prejudice, discrimination and injustice.
§  In the first decade of the twentieth century, white supremacy erected the system of racial domination ‘apartheid’ and treated black people unfairly and brutally. It formed one of the most inhumane societies of the world.
§  Mandela expressed his deep gratitude to all the freedom fighters and martyrs who couldn’t make it to see this historic day. He proudly remembers them highlighting that it requires depths of oppression to create heights of oppression.  
§  Mandela defines courage as not being the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. Being courageous does not mean to be fearless, but to overcome fear. He believes that if people can learn to hate, they can also be taught to love because love comes more naturally to humans.
§  He also mentioned ‘twin obligations’ that every man has to fulfil towards his family and friends and towards his society and country  in large. 
   Later, he realised that the idea of freedom was an illusion for him and for the people of his race. It was then he joined the African National Congress and fought consistently for thirty years, to enjoy equal rights and live a life of dignity.
§  According to him, the oppressor must be liberated just as the oppressed because the oppressor is a prisoner of his hatred and prejudice when he robs the oppressed of his freedom. The oppressed along with the oppressor get robbed of their humanity alike.

Historical Back ground

In South Africa, a political system named ‘apartheid’ was followed under white supremacy that lasted there for almost 4 centuries. ‘Apartheid’ refers to the discrimination between people on the basis of their race or colour of skin. It was one of the most brutal practices in which black people were deprived of their social and political rights. They were treated like slaves and deprived of essential human dignity. This lesson gives us an insight about how Nelson Mandela along with others, paved their way to a society in which all can enjoy equal rights and there is no discrimination on the basis of their colour, caste, race, religion or gender.

Difficult terms and expressions

1. Extraordinary human disaster – It refers to mass casualties, racial and unlawful discrimination and brutal oppression by the whites and martyrdom and sufferings of dark skinned people of South Africa due to the practice of ‘apartheid’.

2. Glorious human achievement – It refers to the victory of justice and humanity over inhuman and brutal practice of apartheid.  

3. Depths of oppression – The term means by the highest degrees of oppression, suppression and brutal treatments done by the whites.

4. Heights of character – This refers to the intensity, power of tolerance and capacity of bearing torture while continuing the struggle for freedom, equality and justice.

Important Question answers

Q1. ‘Depths of oppression create heights of character’ Illustrate.
 Ans. Yes it is so true that ‘Depths of oppression create heights of character’. The height and greatness of our character are tested in the hot fires of adversity, struggles or oppression. A person who is great to the core never surrenders to injustice and oppression but survives to see the golden dawn of freedom and justice after the darkness of oppression. Nelson Mandela illustrates this statement by giving the examples of Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer and many other freedom fighters and revolutionary leaders.

Q2. How can you say 10th May is ‘an autumn day’ in South Africa?
Ans. 10th May is 'an autumn day' because South Africa lies in southern hemisphere, hence, experiences autumn season in the month of March and last till June. In autumn season the trees shed their leaves and new ones come. It is a metaphor as old order was changing in South Africa when the British rule ended up and a non-racial and Democratic government was established. It is symbolic and metaphorical presentation of a political change establishing that ‘Change is the law of nature’.

Q3. What does Mandela mean when he says, 'he is the sum of all African patriots' who have gone before him? 
Ans. When Nelson Mandela says that he is 'simply the sum of all African patriots', he refers to the freedom fighters and martyrs of South Africa who have struggled and suffered a lot and sacrificed their lives, family, property, jobs and homes to attain freedom and justice. Paying tribute to these freedom fighters who could not survive to see this glorious day. Mandela feels that he stands  at the podium as their representative. He has been a part of their struggle and sacrifices and shares the same joy of being a free man what they could have felt if had been alive. 

Q4. How did Mandela's understanding of freedom change with age and experience?
Ans. Just like all the children Mandela was also not born with hunger to be free. When he was a child, he only wanted to run in the fields, swim in clear streams, roast mealies under the stars and do whatever he wanted. 
In his boyhood he began to hunger for freedom, but only for himself. As a student he wanted to stay out at night, study what he pleased and go where he chose to. As a young man he yearned for the basic freedom to pursue his passion and study according to his choice and potential, earn an honourable livelihood and have the freedom of marrying and having a family, and finally the freedom not to be obstructed in a lawful life. 
But, after growing adult when he saw that his brothers and sisters are not free, he realised that he is enjoying a curtailed and transitory freedom. He understood that he was not free to fulfil his second obligation towards his community and country.  That was when he developed the hunger for the freedom of his people, the freedom to live a life of dignity and self respect for the humanity.

Video on the Chapter 

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