Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Long Walk to Freedom

The book that inspired the major new motion picture Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more th

Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa’s antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.

LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history’s greatest figures. Here for the first time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life–an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.
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    Rowena

    “As I finally walked through those gates to enter a car on the other side, I felt- even at the age of seventy-one- that my life was beginning anew. My ten thousand days of imprisonment were over.” – Nelson Mandela, A Long Walk to Freedom

    2013, my year of reading biographies, started off with Dr. King’s and ended with reading Nelson Mandela’s. A perfect end to the year.

    Apartheid is something that hit very close to home to me, being a member of the same Bantu people that the racist Afrikaner gover

    2013, my year of reading biographies, started off with Dr. King’s and ended with reading Nelson Mandela’s. A perfect end to the year.

    Apartheid is something that hit very close to home to me, being a member of the same Bantu people that the racist Afrikaner government believed were on the same level as animals. Mandela has always been a hero in my family and I grew up hearing about his life and his struggles to gain freedom for black South Africans. I knew about Apartheid before I knew about the American civil rights movement.

    This autobiography is very comprehensive in scope, covering Mandela’s childhood, his adulthood, his transformation into a freedom fighter, and his time spent in jail, and finally his inauguration as South Africa’s first black president.The history of his African National Congress party was intriguing,and even more gripping were the stories of Mandela’s days as the “Black Pimpernel” travelling all around Africa and Europe.

    This was not an easy read. Mandela made so many sacrifices, as did his wife and children. It really hurt reading about how he, his wife and children were treated, and how it took so long for the world to wake up and send proper help.

    “I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of what I thought, because of my conscience.”

    A couple of things really stood out to me. The first was how colonized our thinking is. Black Africans have been told they are inferior and even now they often display that inferiority complex. The Afrikaners were fed the same lies and believed that blacks were inferior before witnessing for themselves that that wasn’t true (Boer party propaganda). The second thing that stood out was how this book restored my faith in mankind at times. It was fascinating to read about the humanity that arose in the unlikeliest people.

    Mandela was humble and acknowledged all those involved in the freedom struggle. About his inauguration, he said, “I felt that day, as I have on so many other days, that I was simply the sum of all those African patriots who have gone before me. That long and noble line ended and now began again with me. I was pained that I was not able to thank them and that they were not able to see what their sacrifices had wrought.”

    After reading this book, my respect for Mandela grew even more. I loved his spirit; he refused to be broken, he refused to become bitter and he somehow kept his wit and his sense of humour. He was honest about what he learned, about his own prejudices and mistakes.

    The first time I visited South Africa was in 1995, a year after the democratic elections that officially ended Apartheid. The thought crossed my mind that a few years prior my family and I would not have been able to make that trip in such comfort and safety. Thank you, Madiba for making this happen.

    To quote my GR friend Leola, “I feel like the world could never be prepared enough to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela.”
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    Warwick

    At over 700 pages, Nelson Mandela’s autobiography might look like a serious commitment. Actually though, it doesn’t feel like a heavy book at all. Like the thinking which informs it, the writing is clear, measured and straightforward, albeit scattered with bits of Harvard English that are presumably down to Mandela’s (uncredited) American ghostwriter, Richard Stengel.

    I sped through it in under a week, thanks mainly to a couple of long train journeys. I’m left with a much more nuanced view of Man

    I sped through it in under a week, thanks mainly to a couple of long train journeys. I’m left with a much more nuanced view of Mandela and what he stood for, and a much clearer idea of the man behind the symbol.

    What I found particularly valuable were the insights into how deeply apartheid ingrained racism not just on to the white minority, but on to the attitudes and assumptions throughout the whole of South African society. Mandela at one point mentions being struck by the sight of a young beggar-girl by the side of the road in a township, and reacting completely differently because she was white:

    While I did not normally give to African beggars, I felt the urge to give this woman money. In that moment I realized the tricks that apartheid plays on one, for the everyday travails that afflict Africans are accepted as a matter of course, while my heart immediately went out to this bedraggled white woman. In South Africa, to be poor and black was normal, to be poor and white was a tragedy.

    A few years and several hundred pages later, he has the corollary experience while taking a clandestine flight in Ethiopia.

    As I was boarding the plane I saw that the pilot was black. I had never seen a black pilot before, and the instant I did I had to quell my panic. How could a black man fly a plane? But a moment later I caught myself: I had fallen into the apartheid mind-set, thinking Africans were inferior and that flying was a white man’s job.

    If the leaders of the resistance movement can react like this – How could a black man fly a plane? – the reactions of less committed or thoughtful South Africans can readily be imagined, and you begin to get a sense of the sheer scale of the problem which faced the ANC and other activists. A problem which has not entirely gone away.

    These are the well-chosen memories of someone interested in their own thoughts and responses, and who had the time – so much of it – to examine his life and sift out the experiences that counted. Everywhere in the book, there is this sense of a man who has thought long and hard about the choices he made, and can explain them simply and directly.

    Not all of them are necessarily easy to sympathise with, or at least they perhaps shouldn’t be. Let’s be clear: Mandela is not Ghandi. We should remember (and he is admirably open about it) that Amnesty International always declined to work on Mandela’s behalf because he refused to renounce violence as a valid tool in the fight against apartheid. He was the first head of the ANC’s militant wing, the MK, and involved in paramilitary training; he drew up plans for action that ran from sabotage to guerrilla warfare. At one point, he describes his 1950s self as ‘a young man who attempted to make up for his ignorance with militancy’ – but actually, that militancy never goes away, it just becomes more grounded in political and moral justifications. Mandela’s ethical sensibility is always there; but ethics are not paramount.

    For me, non-violence was not a moral principle but a strategy; there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon.

    Effective weapons were considered to include explosives, as demonstrated for example in the Church Street bombing of 1983 which killed 19 people and wounded over 200, including many civilians. Mandela mentions it in passing, and has the following to say.

    The killing of civilians was a tragic accident, and I felt a profound horror at the death toll. But disturbed as I was by these casualties, I knew that such accidents were the inevitable consequence of the decision to embark on a military struggle. Human fallibility is always a part of war, and the price of it is always high. It was precisely because we knew that such incidents would occur that our decision to take up arms had been so grave and reluctant. But as Oliver said at the time of the bombing, the armed struggle was imposed upon us by the violence of the apartheid regime.

    We are on dangerous ground here. Can we put a number on how many civilian deaths are considered a reasonable price to pay for ending apartheid? At the same time, though, who on earth am I to question his decisions and moral code – I who have never experienced a fraction of the abuse and discrimination which was his daily life, and who am never likely to have to make the impossible choices that were so common under apartheid?

    All I can say is Mandela doesn’t shy away from it. I may not always be comfortable about it, but I felt a deep respect for his willingness to stand behind his actions and explain them as best he can.

    Ultimately, Mandela was saved from being a truly ambiguous figure by the simple fact that he was arrested and imprisoned before he could be directly involved in any violence himself; for him, it’s all theoretical, and, locked away behind bars, he could be viewed more simply as an innocent martyr to a just cause. And indeed, it’s in his response to the years of incarceration that the greatness of Mandela’s character comes through. Twenty-seven years in jail would be enough to make any man bitter; but he is the opposite of bitter. Time and again he shows himself willing to listen to and work with those who might easily be called his enemies – from dissenting black activists, through ambivalent prison warders, up to the president of South Africa.

    It’s his astonishing ability to do without bitterness – essentially, his capacity for forgiveness – which really makes Mandela an inspiration. Perhaps it’s my naïveté, but I can’t help concluding that, when international pressure got too much for South Africa’s government, it was Mandela’s openness in negotiations which forged the breakthrough and not the MK’s sporadic attempts to meet violence with violence. That’s certainly what I’ll take away from this excellent and fascinating memoir: that, and a delight in his unshakable belief that no matter how degrading the conditions, or how long the imprisonment, no one had the power to damage who he was on the inside:

    Prison and the authorities conspire to rob each man of his dignity. In and of itself, that assured that I would survive, for any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose because I will not part with it at any price or under any pressure.


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    Matt

    Mar 07, 2017

    rated it
    it was amazing

    Shelves:
    audiobook

    As I continue the forty days of biography reading, I thought I ought to tackle some of the ‘big players’ in the world of politics. At a time when the world is still ill-balanced, I wanted to delve into the world of Nelson Mandela, one who sought to recalibrate a significant unbalance on the African continent over a number of decades. Having a great interest in South Africa, the backwardness of apartheid’s acceptance by any governing body, and how the world handled the bloodshed under the racist

    Born in 1918 with the birth name ‘Rolihlahla’, Xhosa for “pulling the branch of a tree’, Mandela lived his early years in a small village far from the bustling cities of Cape Town or Johannesburg. Living in the traditional way of Africans, the village shared resources and means of survival, which might have fostered his views that found him in hot water decades later. Seeing much potential in their son, Mandela’s parents allowed the Church to play a strong role in his upbringing and education, which led him to find a passion for the law. Mandela explains early on in this autobiography that his desire to advocate for others became a foundation of the way he lived his life. Eventually pulled into the larger city, Mandela worked in a law firm in Johannesburg, though failed to pass some of the essential academic examinations to earn an LLB. However, Mandela found a strong desire to help his fellow African with issues that arose and worked within the limits before him to ensure that all South Africans shared the same opportunities. South Africa was in the midst of a transformation, still part of the British Commonwealth but run primarily by the Afrikaner white minority, who ruled in an off-balance manner that sought to use the minority sentiments to shape the laws for all. With the exclusion of the black African (please allow me at this time to offer apologies for anyone who takes offence to the word ‘black’, for I am simply using the term Mandela presented throughout, which differentiates between the white minority and the unrepresented majority) population, Mandela began to meet with other like-minded men and sought to join the political movement of the African National Congress (ANC), whose long-standing support of black equality fit nicely with the views he espoused. Mandela used this passion to fuel his mantra as he sought to push back against the views of the South African Government. Mandela did find time to marry, choosing Evelyn Nkoto Mase, who bore him his first set of children. Mandela explores the life of an anti-colonist and the role the ANC played in his early life. By this time, the South African government brought in apartheid, an approach to racial divide the country and benefit the whites. Mandela would not stand for this and spoke out whenever he could to counter the racist governmental policies. The strains between Mandela and Evelyn led to a disintegration of that marriage and Mandela was forced to come to terms with it while he wrestled for black equality. Not long single, Mandela met and married Winnie Madikizela, sure they would be together after their first date. Things ramped up and Mandela was soon persona non grata in the country, hiding from the authorities in order to protect himself. Mandela tells of his secret trips to other parts of Africa to meet with other black leaders who were also trying to toss the shackles of oppression from their peoples. And yet, the world stood by and watched as the politics of South Africa became more troublesome. The ANC ramped up its views and Mandela became a strong figurehead, eventually brought to trial for High Treason after espousing views of wanting to overthrow the government. Mandela makes clear that there was no way to follow a peaceful solution against the Government, though he may have wanted to parallel Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. However, targeted violence would not include the regular citizen and assassination was never promoted or condoned. Sentenced to life in prison after the judge chose not to impose the death penalty, Mandela began his twenty-seven years behind bars on Robben Island, an isolated prison facility.

    A resident of the Robben Island prison Mandela speaks frankly about his incarceration and the treatment he received. While the meals were poor and the sanitary conditions less than ideal, I expected severe beatings and horrendous treatment at the hands of guards and wardens to pepper the narrative. However, Mandela was seen as an advocate for his fellow prisoners and earned the respect of the white prison hierarchy, to the point that he was given special treatment when presenting concerns to the prison authorities. His imprisonment became a political soapbox and many people from all corners of the world came to see him and listen to his views, though nothing changed. While the outside world continued to speak out against apartheid and issued sanctions, politics within the country sought to strengthen the racially divisive movement under a number of leaders, culminating in P.W. Botha, perhaps its most ruthless Afrikaner leader. However, as Mandela presents in the latter portion of the narrative, Botha readily met with Mandela and heard his complaints. Mandela continued to espouse equality and fought against apartheid, though Botha gave only lip service to these concerns. As the world began to shift toward the end of the 1980s, South Africa’s apartheid views seemed to dissipate when Botha stepped down and F.W. de Klerk became prime minister. Under de Klerk, Mandela’s sentence came to an end and he was able to leave Robben Island, completing the long and sordid walk to freedom.

    Mandela is able to use the last dozen or so chapters to speak of this freedom and the changes that came to pass, though there was surely many hurdles to overcome and much reconciliation that needed to take place. Mandela advocated for free and open elections, even while de Klerk sought an outright veto over any legislation for the Afrikaners. Push came to shove and the racial divide led to more murders, increased resentment, and added pressure on Mandela and the ANC to prove that they could act within political means and not turn to guns. Mandela speaks frankly, though never stops pushing for talk over bullet to solve the issue. By the time the first open national election came to pass in 1994, Mandela was able to rise to the role of President of the South African Republic, the ultimate gift after decades of oppression.

    Some who saw that I was reading this jumped immediately onto Mandela’s being a communist (as though that were a poisoned moniker) and a terrorist. Both of these sentiments are true in their textbook form, though the flavour in which they were presented makes them seem horrid and worthy of vilification. To those people, who prefer to talk of peaceful whites and raping blacks (I kid you not), I can only offer pity as they allow ignorance to ferment inside their minds. It also shows that they have no interest in engaging in an intellectual conversation on Mandela or the apartheid era in South Africa. Mandela’s upbringing was very much one of social equality for all and his interest in Marxist views fuelled a passion to see equality for every man, woman, and child within South Africa, irregardless of the colour of their skin or background. His terrorist leanings were borne out of a need to bring about needed change. I neither condemn or condone these actions, but I do see some rationale, as Mandela spoke of wanting to emulate Gandhi’s protest in India. However, while the British were a sensible people with a democratic political system that permitted all to vote, South Africa would never allow blacks to have a political voice, thereby keeping them from ever bringing about change in a parliamentary means. Mandela spoke of two Americans coming to see him in prison, pushing the idea of Martin Luther King’s triumphs in America without ever needing to promote violence. Again, Mandela spoke of how the US Constitution entrenched equal rights within the document and King was only trying to promote these sentiments in the racist south. So, while he was a terrorist in the textbook sense, one might wonder if it was for a good cause. Of course, that will not quell the views of those who are cemented into a hatred that could include burning crosses or half-truths, but then again, some people’s ignorance comes from indoctrination and a refusal to expand their knowledge.

    Mandela’s crisp delivery is refreshing, especially as he speaks to frankly about these issues. I was drawn into the chapters and found myself begging for more information, even though I was already drowning in all the narrative had to offer. Mandela does not try to make himself look like a martyr or saint, but does not shy away from the evils he felt were developing around him. His love of self, family, and the larger South African state appears throughout. While this was an autobiography, it is balanced and can be called a realistic account, though I would be remiss if I took it as gospel. Mandela pulls no punches, while remaining above the fray and not getting himself stuck in the racial mud slinging that one might expect from someone who was oppressed for so long. He could have penned a powerful piece, highly critical of the government and scathing in its presentation, but by keeping things balanced and free from poisonous rhetoric, the reader is more likely to find pieces they support. The attentive reader will learn how Mandela devised early drafts of this piece and find themselves impressed with his ability to recollect so much. Far from succinct, but laid out perfectly to see the slow development of Mandela’s struggles, the reader will surely appreciate the attention to detail and powerful arguments that pepper this piece from beginning to end.

    Kudos seem to be too small an honour to bestow upon you, Mr. Mandela. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and while others may criticise me for even considering it, I am happy I took the time to learn about these struggles within South Africa.

    I would encourage anyone who knows of a good book that tells the opposite side of the argument to send me a recommendation. All I ask is that it is well-sourced and a grounded piece that does not spiral into hate speech. I am eager to see apartheid and the white struggle within South Africa, should it exist.

    Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:
    http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/
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