Nelson Mandela : A long walk to freedom
To help the children know
Nelson Mandela, the first Black president of South Africa, after more than 3 centuries of white rule, celebrated very vividly the grand ceremony of the first democratic non-racial government. Being sworn in, he said radiantly that “Never, never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”. He pays homage to the freedom fighters like Oliver Tambo, Luthuli, Yusuf Dadoo. They were men of uncommon courage, wisdom and generosity. He regards the death of thousands of people who sacrificed their lives for the cause of courage. It is not the absence of fear but the victory over it. No man is born with harassment rather love which comes natural to the human heart. He says every man has his duties to his family, to the community and to his country to perform honestly.
online home work submission
short questions and answers
Q1: Where did the ceremonies take place? Can you name any public buildings in India that are made of sandstone?
A: The ceremonies took place in the sandstone amphitheatre formed by the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The Parliament House in New Delhi, the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi and Madras High Court in Chennai are some examples of Indian public buildings that are made of sandstone.
Q2: Can you say how 10 May is an ‘autumn day’ in South Africa?
A: 10 May is an ‘autumn day’ in South Africa because on this day there was the largest gathering of international leaders on South African soil for the installation of South Africa’s first democratic, non-racial government.
Q3: At the beginning of his speech, Mandela mentions “an extraordinary human disaster”. What does he mean by this? What is the “glorious … human achievement” he speaks of at the end?
A: The ‘extraordinary human disaster’ that Mandela mentioned at the beginning of his speech refers to the inhuman practice of apartheid i.e., the racial discrimination suffered by the blacks at the hands of whites in South Africa. At the end, the ‘glorious human achievement’ that he spoke refers to the establishment of South Africa’s first democratic, non-racial government.
Q4: What does Mandela thank the international leaders for?
A: Mandela felt privileged to be the host to the nations of the world because not too long ago, the South Africans were considered outlaws. He thus thanked the international leaders for having come to witness his investiture as President since this event could be considered as a common victory for justice, peace and human dignity.
Q5: What ideals does he set out for the future of South Africa?
A: Mandela had high hopes for the future of South Africa. He pledged to liberate all South Africans from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination. He also stressed that the beautiful land of South Africa would never ever experience racial discrimination again.
Q6: What do the military generals do? How has their attitude changed, and why?
A: The highest military generals of the South African defense force and police saluted Mandela and pledged their loyalty. When the military generals saluted Mandela, he was not unmindful of the fact that not too many years ago, they would not have saluted him, but arrested him. This change in attitude was due to the fact that a new, non-racial government was elected and Mandela was the President of South Africa.
Q7: Why were two national anthems sung?
A: On the day of the inauguration, two national anthems were sung, one by the whites, and the other by the blacks. This symbolized the equality of blacks and whites.
Q8: How does Mandela describe the systems of government in his country (i) in the first decade, and (ii) in the final decade, of the twentieth century?
A: (i) In the first decade of the twentieth century, the white-skinned people of South Africa patched up their differences and erected a system of racial domination against dark-skinned people of their own land, thus creating the basis of one of the harshest and most inhumane societies the world had ever known.
(ii) In the last decade of the twentieth century, the previous system had been overturned forever and replaced by one that recognized the rights and freedoms of all peoples, regardless of the colour of their skin.
Q9: What does courage mean to Mandela?
A: On seeing men stand up to attacks and torture without breaking and thus showing strength and resilience that defied the imagination, Mandela learnt that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
Q10: Which does he think is natural, to love or to hate?
A: For Mandela, love comes more naturally to the human heart than hate.
Q11: What “twin obligations” does Mandela mention?
A: Mandela mentions that every man has twin obligations. The first is to his family, parents, wife and children; the second obligation is to his people, his community and his country.
Q12: Does Mandela think the oppressor is free? Why/Why not?
A: Mandela does not feel that the oppressor is free because according to him an oppressor is a prisoner of hatred, who is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. He feels that both the oppressor and the oppressed are robbed of their humanity.
text book questions and answers
Q1: What did being free mean to Mandela as a boy, and as a student? How does he contrast these “transitory freedoms” with “the basic and honourable freedoms”?
A: As a boy, Mandela did not have a hunger to be free as he thought that he was born free. As long as he obeyed hisfather and abided by the customs of his tribe, he was free in every way he knew. As a student, he wanted certain “transitory freedoms” only for himself, such as being able to stay out at night, read what he pleased and go where he chose. He then talks about certain “basic honourable freedoms” such as achieving his potential of earning his living and of marrying and having a family. He builds the contrast between these two freedoms by stating that the transitory freedoms he wanted were limited to him, whereas the honourable freedoms had to do more with his and his people’s position in the society.
Q2: Why did such a large number of international leaders attend the inauguration? What did it signify the triumph of?
A: Before Nelson Mandela became the President, South Africa was in the grips of apartheid and was thus declared an outlaw by other nations. When Mandela became President, he abolished apartheid and thus diplomatic relations were rebuilt with many countries. The inauguration of a new, non-racial government was a historic moment in South African as well as world history. Thus, several distinguished international leaders attended inauguration. It signified the triumph of justice, peace and human dignity.
Q3: What does Mandela mean when he says he is “simply the sum of all those African patriots” who had gone before him?
A: When Mandela says that he was ‘simply the sum of all African patriots,’ he means that he could identify with the unimaginable sacrifices of all those noble and courageous men who fought for the collective freedom of the African people. He was pained that he could not thank them and that they could not see what their sacrifices had wrought.
Q4: Would you agree that the “depths of oppression” create “heights of character? How does Mandela illustrate this? Can you add your own examples to this argument?
A: Yes, I agree that the “depths of oppression” create “heights of character”. Mandela thought that the decades of brutality and oppression had an unintended effect of creating African patriots with unimaginable heights of character. Thus, he felt that the greatest wealth of South Africa is its people. In similar manner, Bhagat Singh remained courageous while facing utmost cruelty at the hands of British.
Q5: How did Mandela’s understanding of freedom change with age and experience?
A: As a boy, Mandela did not have a hunger for freedom because he thought that he was born free. He believed that as long as he obeyed his father and abided by the customs of his tribe, he was free in every possible manner. He had certain needs as a teenager and certain needs as a young man. Gradually, he realized that he was selfish during his boyhood. He slowly understands that it is not just his freedom that is being curtailed, but the freedom of all blacks. It is after attaining this understanding that he develops a hunger for the freedom of his people.
Q6: How did Mandela’s ‘hunger for freedom’ change his life?
A: Mandela realized in his youth that it was not just his freedom that was being curtailed, but the freedom of all blacks. The hunger for his own freedom became the hunger for the freedom of his people. This desire of a non-racial society transformed him into a virtuous and self-sacrificing man. Thus, he joined the African National Congress and this changed him from a frightened young man into a bold man.