The Illustrated Long Walk to Freedom Info

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Since his release from prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela has
emerged as the world's most significant moral leader since Gandhi. As
president of the African National Congress and spiritual figurehead of
the anti-apartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving South Africa
towards black-majority rule. He is revered throughout the world as a
vital force for human rights and racial equality. Mandela's riveting
memoirs, "A Long Walk To Freedom", were first published in 1994 to
universal acclaim. This exciting illustrated edition now portrays his
life in words and pictures. Vivid descriptions of his childhood
environment, early Johannesburg, life in the townships, Robben Island
and the events, protests, historic trials, and acts of vengeance that
forged his destiny are now accompanied by haunting and dramatic
photographs that illuminate his story in an unforgettable way.

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Reviews for The Illustrated Long Walk to Freedom:

5

Jul 29, 2013

“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 “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 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.” ...more
4

Dec 20, 2012

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 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 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. ...more
5

Mar 07, 2017

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 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 regime there, I felt this would be a wonderful starting point. I have read much historical fiction about the country and the struggles, but it is high time we look to facts and figures. There will be those who oppose me reading this autobiography for propaganda reasons (and they have already reared their heads) and I welcome their sentiments, though the sub-set who are supremacists and bully views for the sake of racism belong in the weed-choked fields of knowledge from whence they came. And yes, they have come out to write to me as well!

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/ ...more
5

Dec 01, 2016

A long way to freedom, courageously traveled by many men and women, to free themselves from the White oppressor, to regain human dignity, the pride of being Black. At first peaceful, they are forced to take up arms, to respond to the violence that faces them furiously. Neither the courts nor the prison can break this quest for equity, democracy and freedom.
Then it will be non-vengeance to take the path of negotiations, to annihilate hatred by words of peace.

A wonderful and moving testimony.
A A long way to freedom, courageously traveled by many men and women, to free themselves from the White oppressor, to regain human dignity, the pride of being Black. At first peaceful, they are forced to take up arms, to respond to the violence that faces them furiously. Neither the courts nor the prison can break this quest for equity, democracy and freedom.
Then it will be non-vengeance to take the path of negotiations, to annihilate hatred by words of peace.

A wonderful and moving testimony.
A timeless and universal hope message that upsets us.

« No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his past, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can also be taught to love, for love is born more naturally in the heart of man than its opposite.

I am not really free if I deprive someone else of his freedom. The oppressed and the oppressor are both dispossessed of their humanity. » ...more
5

Aug 27, 2012

If you are not a prolific reader, the size and weight of this volume may look daunting. After reading the first two or three chapters, you will be tempted to give up. DON'T!!! It's just about to get really good.

This autobiography chronicles Mandela's life, first as the son of a tribal chief, then as an educated Black man under Apartheid--a dangerous thing to be--and then the journey, both outward and inward, from attorney to the leader of a revolution. You will read about his time on Riecher's If you are not a prolific reader, the size and weight of this volume may look daunting. After reading the first two or three chapters, you will be tempted to give up. DON'T!!! It's just about to get really good.

This autobiography chronicles Mandela's life, first as the son of a tribal chief, then as an educated Black man under Apartheid--a dangerous thing to be--and then the journey, both outward and inward, from attorney to the leader of a revolution. You will read about his time on Riecher's Island, the notorious prison, and the various experiences he had in the courtroom and in captivity. He tells of the cunning ways those who were jailed for political reasons created to communicate and to an extent, continue to lead from inside prison. And he breaks up the horror with an occasional vignette of a surprisingly kindly jailor or other authority figure who does small, decent things when no one is looking.

If you are interested in the history of South Africa and the defeat of Apartheid, this is a must-read. If you ever, as I did, had a "Free Nelson Mandela" poster in your living room...read this, and celebrate. ...more
5

Sep 21, 2019

I had skipped over this book by Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) many times thinking I had read it. The other day I checked my records and was surprised to discovered I had recorded it to read but had not read it. I now have corrected that mistake.

The book is well written. It covers Nelson Mandela’s life from childhood to becoming the president of South Africa. The author also describes the history of South Africa and the various local tribes so I have a better understanding of the situation. The I had skipped over this book by Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) many times thinking I had read it. The other day I checked my records and was surprised to discovered I had recorded it to read but had not read it. I now have corrected that mistake.

The book is well written. It covers Nelson Mandela’s life from childhood to becoming the president of South Africa. The author also describes the history of South Africa and the various local tribes so I have a better understanding of the situation. The writing is a bit dry at times and very little personal emotion is displayed. Mandela’s high ideals and his fight for freedom comes through loud and clear in the book. The book is about the fight for civil rights. This is an excellent memoir. It held my attention throughout the book.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is twenty-nine hours and thirty-nine minutes. Michael Boatman does a good job narrating the book. Boatman is an actor and audiobook narrator. I am glad I read this as an audiobook as I would never had been able to pronounce the African names.
...more
4

Jun 25, 2019

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (Long Walk to Freedom #1-2), Nelson Mandela
Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiography written by South African President Nelson Mandela, and first published in 1994 by Little Brown & Co. The book profiles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison. Under the apartheid government, Mandela was regarded as a terrorist and jailed on the infamous Robben Island. He later achieved international recognition for his Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (Long Walk to Freedom #1-2), Nelson Mandela
Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiography written by South African President Nelson Mandela, and first published in 1994 by Little Brown & Co. The book profiles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison. Under the apartheid government, Mandela was regarded as a terrorist and jailed on the infamous Robben Island. He later achieved international recognition for his leadership as president in rebuilding the country's once segregated society. The last chapters of the book describe his political ascension, and his belief that the struggle still continued against apartheid in South Africa.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1995 میلادی
عنوان: راه دشوار آزادی: خاطرات نلسون ماندلا؛ نویسسنده: نلسون ماندلا؛ مترجم: مهوش غلامی؛ تهران، اطلاعات، 1374، در 804 و 23 ص؛ مصور، عکس، شابک: 9644233263؛ چاپ دوم: 1379؛ چاپ سوم 1383؛ چاپ چهارم 1387؛ شابک: 9789644233265؛ چاپ پنجم 1390؛ چاپ ششم 1392؛ چاپ هفتم 1395؛ چاپ هشتم 1397؛ موضوع: یادمانها و زیستنامه ی نویسندگان افریقایی، افریقای جنوبی - سده 20 م
عنوان: راه طولانی به سوی آزادی: زندگینامه نلسون ماندلا؛ نویسسنده: نلسون ماندلا؛ تلخیص: کوکوکاچالیا و مارک سوتنر؛ مترجم: سیما رفیعی؛ تهران، عطایی، 1392؛ در 168 ص؛ مصور؛ شابک: 9789643137250؛ عنوان دیگر: زندگینامه نلسون ماندلا؛
نگارنده ی کتاب «نلسون ماندلا» در روز هجدهم ماه جولای سال 1918 میلادی در «ترنسکی، آفریقای جنوبی» به این دنیا آمدند. ایشان در سال 1944 میلادی به «کنگره ی ملی آفریقا» پیوستند، و پس از سال 1948 میلادی، پیش از دستگیری در ماه اگوست سال 1962 میلادی، در برابر سیاستهای «آپارتاید» حزب ملی حاکم پایداری کردند. در ماه نوامبر سال 1962 میلادی ایشان به پنج سال زندان محکوم شدند و در سال 1963 میلادی در زندان «جزیره رابن» به نوشتن آغاز کردند تا اینکه به «پرتوریا» بازگشت داده شدند، و سپس در آنجا دوباره در دادگاه «ریونیا» محاکمه، و از سال 1964 میلادی تا سال 1982 میلادی دوباره در زندان جزیره رابن زندانی شدند و سپس ایشان را به زندان «پالسمور» بردند که در آنجا به تدریج به عنوان نماد قدرتمندی از مقاومت در برابر جنبش ضد آپارتاید به شهرت رسید. «ماندلا» در طول 27 سال زندان، که بیشتر آن را در یک سلول در «جزیره روبن» سپری کردند، مشهورترین چهره ی مبارز علیه آپارتاید در آفریقای جنوبی شندد. «نلسون ماندلا» یکی از راهبران بزرگوار سیاسی و مردمی دوران ما بودند. ایشان قهرمانی جهانی بودند که زندگی خود را وقف مبارزه با تبعیض نژادی، در آفریقای جنوبی کرده، و به پاس آن از خود گذشتگی، جایزه ی صلح نوبل به ایشان اهدا شد، و به ریاست جمهوری کشورش رسید. «ماندلا» با اینکه بیست و هفت سال از بهترین سالهای عمر خویش را در پشت میله های زندان گذراندند، اما لحظه ای از پایداری و مبارزه در راه آرمان خویش دست نکشیدند، تا اینکه در سال 1990 میلادی در سن هفتاد و دوسالگی، دوباره آزادی خود را به دست آوردند، و در مرکز صحنه سیاسی جهانی قرار گرفتند. «ماندلا» به عنوان رئیس «کنگره ملی آفریقا» و «نهضت ضد آپارتاید آفریقای جنوبی» ملت خویش را به سوی آرمان «حکومت اکثریت» و «دولت چند نژادی» هدایت کرده و نیروی حیاتی در مبارزه در راه «حقوق بشر»، و «برابری نژادی» بوده است. این کتاب شرحی تکان دهنده و هیجان انگیز از زندگی ایشانست. «ماندلا» برای نخستین بار، از داستان زندگی خویش، از: «حماسه ی مبارزه ها و شکستها»، از: «امیدهای دوباره»، و از: «پیروزی» سخن میگویند. «نلسون ماندلا»، برای میلیونها انسان در سراسر جهان، نمادی از: «پیروزی امید و غرور»، بر: «نومیدی و تنفر»، «پیروزی عشق و از خودگذشتگی و خویشتنداری»، بر: «خصلتهای اهریمنی و انتقام جویی» مینگارند، و با خوانشگران خویش، سخن میگویند. ا. شربیانی ...more
2

Sep 28, 2007

First of all let me say that Nelson Mandela is an amazing man who has been through more trials than I could ever imagine, and he faced them with such class and strength. I am glad I know more about his history and his life as a "freedom fighter," and this book gave me greater appreciation for black South Africans. However, it was a long, long, long, long walk to freedom. I guess I like books that are written in story form, which shows some lack of intelligence on my part, unfortunately. It took First of all let me say that Nelson Mandela is an amazing man who has been through more trials than I could ever imagine, and he faced them with such class and strength. I am glad I know more about his history and his life as a "freedom fighter," and this book gave me greater appreciation for black South Africans. However, it was a long, long, long, long walk to freedom. I guess I like books that are written in story form, which shows some lack of intelligence on my part, unfortunately. It took me about 11 months to read this book, and I would have given up, except for the fact that it would make me crazy to start a book and not finish it (especially because I wanted to learn more about apartheid). ...more
5

Jul 24, 2012

Where does one start with this? The story of freedom fighter, head of state, and world leader, Nelson Mandela--a book that spans his childhood, years spent in prison, and subsequent election as president. I grew up constantly reminded that a man, this man, was seated somewhere in South Africa in a prison cell, fighting for freedom for an entire nation and group of people.

The former president started this manuscript while in prison (sometime around 1974) and concocted a plan to have the original Where does one start with this? The story of freedom fighter, head of state, and world leader, Nelson Mandela--a book that spans his childhood, years spent in prison, and subsequent election as president. I grew up constantly reminded that a man, this man, was seated somewhere in South Africa in a prison cell, fighting for freedom for an entire nation and group of people.

The former president started this manuscript while in prison (sometime around 1974) and concocted a plan to have the original manuscript snuck out of prison (which ended up being a smart plan since prison guards confiscated what they thought was the original manuscript). The book is long and quite detailed (at times wordy), with extra care paid to conversations and political names and roles, travels Mandela had with political heads of state, the making of the political group The ANC, the start of the movement to denounce apartheid, and a detailed family tree in the beginning.

It is a book you usually see written by a biographer (like this one written about Warren Buffet: The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life Instead, the former president wrote this one himself, taking careful pains to even talk about his childhood school and upbringing (another thing you normally see omitted from autobiographies, and sometimes biographies). Excerpts from this book could be studied in history and literature classes.

It is a poignant read written in classic autobiography style, with a strong "voice," one that has serious life lessons and inspiration for anybody at any stage of life.

The best way I can discuss this book is by talking about the highlights of each of its eleven parts:

Part 1: This is about Mr. Mandela's childhood in the country. He talks about his family tree. His family came from the royal household of the Thembu tribe: his father was an adviser to kings, and a wealthy nobleman who lost his holdings when he was fired by a magistrate from England--even though he believed that he only answered to Thembu custom and not "by the laws of the king of England." The Mandela family chieftainship was then ended. His father died when he was young and his mother handed him over to a Xhosa chief named Jongubtaba, who had offered to be his guardian.

Part 2: Mandela escapes the chief's house (along with the chief's biological son) when he learns that marriage, and a set lifestyle that included rules and no personal freedom, had been arranged for them ("My head told me it was the right of every man to plan his own future as he pleased and choose his role in life.") He escaped to Johannesburg, where he worked as a night watchman and later as a law clerk as he completed his law degree ("my performance as a law student was dismal").

Part 3: Nelson Mandela as a freedom fighter. This section goes into details about the startup of the ANC, dispelling some myths. He also talks about his first wife, Evelyn Mase. The most profound and telling statement from this section (and arguably, the book) is this one:

"I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments, produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, From henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise. "

Part 4: This section details the beginning of the struggle. During this time, President Mandela opened his law firm. He talks about being harrassed in court by judges and attorneys, about being served an order from the police that would legally ban him from the ANC at age thirty-five.

Part 5: Mandela discusses his first divorce and his second marriage, as well as prison life. This is where the female contribution to the apartheid struggle is introduced: "...when the women begin to take an active part in the struggle, no power on earth can stop us from achieving freedom in our lifetime." I enjoyed seeing the admiration he had for his second wife, Winnie Madikizela, pour through in this section.

Part 6: The part that stood out for me in this section: his travels to West Africa where the anti-apartheid movement received financial and moral support from West African heads of state in Liberia, Mali, Guinea, Ghana, Sierra Leone, etc. This is also the section where he discusses the violence that had increased in African townships and the decision the ANC made to add guerrilla fighters to the resistance (MK).

Part 7: After living underground for seventeen months, President Mandela was arrested for "inciting African workers to strike and for leaving the country without valid travel documents" (1962). At first he was given five years. Later, someone from his organization (the guerrilla MK) would become a snitch for the police and a few executives from the organization, including Mandela, would be jailed for years.

Part 8: This was a heart-wrenching section. He talks about the dark years on Robben Island: "I could walk the length of my cell in three paces. When I lay down, I could feel the wall with my feet and my head grazed the concrete at the other side....I was forty-six years old, a political prisoner with a life sentence." He was entitled to have only one visitor and receive one letter within a six month timeframe. During this time, his wife was being harassed, jailed, interrogated, held in solitary confinement, and he wondered, "What were the authorities doing to my wife? How would she bear up? Who was looking after our daughters? Who would pay the bills?"

Part 9: Mr. Mandela's role as an underground leader was finally visible to the public. Keep in mind, when he was first jailed, people had no idea how he looked like because pictures were banned and the prisoners even had to steal newspapers which were considered contraband. Negotiations had started and this is also when he started to write this book, "I adopted a rather unorthodox work schedule: I would write most of the night and sleep during the day." He also mentioned a student boycott in this section that was mentioned in Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa

Part 10: Serious negotiations with the government and the incoming president, De Klerk. This section showcased one of Mr. Mandela's strengths: inclusiveness. He even stated that he wasn't in favor of having his white brothers leave, he just wanted his black brothers to have rights to their country. Pivotal moment I think, especially if you've read a lot of books on post colonialism.

Part 11: Freedom, separation from his wife, details of diplomatic meetings. This section is an invigorating read as President Mandela describes the crowds upon his release, his meetings with old friends, etc. One great moment was his reminder of seeing Mrs. King seated on the stage when he gave his first speech after being released: "Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the wife of the great freedom fighter Martin Luther King Jr.. was on the podium that night, and I looked over to her as I made my reference to her husband's immortal words..." Breathtaking moment. It made me want to re-read a few of the biographies I've read on Dr. King.

"I was not born with a hunger to be free. I was born free." -Nelson Mandela ...more
5

Feb 27, 2017

Long Walk to Freedom is the first book I've read by the leader of a country containing instructions on how to overthrow a country.

Mandela is serious about this. He mentions that when his African National Congress decided to commit to violence, they read "works by and about Che Guevara, Mao Tse-tung, Fidel Castro" to figure out how to do it. The phrase "A freedom fighter must..." recurs. He means this to be read by freedom fighters. This book is many things, but maybe the most important thing is Long Walk to Freedom is the first book I've read by the leader of a country containing instructions on how to overthrow a country.

Mandela is serious about this. He mentions that when his African National Congress decided to commit to violence, they read "works by and about Che Guevara, Mao Tse-tung, Fidel Castro" to figure out how to do it. The phrase "A freedom fighter must..." recurs. He means this to be read by freedom fighters. This book is many things, but maybe the most important thing is a manual for revolution.

It's also a defense of Mandela's legacy, and that part is interesting too. Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, which seemed odd to everyone since he has not advocated peace. "I called for nonviolent protest for as long as it was effective," he says. When it was ineffective, "I was candid and explained why I believed we had no choice but to turn to violence." He lays out the "four types of violent activities," which should be undertaken in order: "sabotage, guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and open revolution." The ANC never moved beyond sabotage, but he says clearly: "we were prepared to move on to the next stage: guerrilla warfare and terrorism." So maybe I shouldn't say defense. It's a clarification.

This sets us up for the most dramatic scene in the book, and one of the most dramatic in history: the Rivonia Trial in 1964, in which Mandela and several others were sentenced to life in prison for sabotage. This was a victory: death was on the table. Mandela chose not to defend himself; instead he delivered a statement about which his lawyers said, "If Mandela reads this in court they will take him out in back of the courthouse and string him up." Here's part of his statement:
I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence, I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by whites.

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
You can actually hear part of this speech here - skip to 2:10 if you're in a hurry. It's an incredible thing to listen to.

I grew up while Mandela was in prison, and apartheid in South Africa was the first injustice I was aware of. My first experience with activism, in Amherst MA with the mighty activist Frances Crow, was running around town putting up posters with Mandela's face on them. Mandela screwed up my hair: in high school my mom wouldn't let me grow it long until I claimed that I wasn't cutting it until Mandela was freed, which she felt she couldn't argue with. They freed him like six months later and I was like aw, man. It seemed like a foolproof plan! I got to see him speak shortly afterwards in Boston on his freedom tour, but I didn't have a chance to tell him about my hair.

This is all to say that reading this book was a powerful experience for me. Mandela is one of history's true heroes of freedom. To be able to read his words is special and of immense value. I got actual chills at times, reading about how (for example) he refused to be freed if it meant compromising his movement. He was in jail for nearly 30 years. This isn't one of those books that makes you realize that the writer is just a person like you and me. Mandela was not like you and me. He was a titan. ...more
5

Jun 28, 2013

What to say about one of the world’s most highly esteemed books? I am wholly inadequate to give a review of the book as such, but here, as usual, are a few notes to remind myself of the reading...

(view spoiler)[
MANDELA

* M comes across as a person of deep determination, stubbornness, integrity and drive. Not a man to deviate from the path he has chosen, and throughout his life he seems wholly driven to do what he must do, whatever the odds against him.

* He spent a total of 27 years in jail as What to say about one of the world’s most highly esteemed books? I am wholly inadequate to give a review of the book as such, but here, as usual, are a few notes to remind myself of the reading...

(view spoiler)[
MANDELA

* M comes across as a person of deep determination, stubbornness, integrity and drive. Not a man to deviate from the path he has chosen, and throughout his life he seems wholly driven to do what he must do, whatever the odds against him.

* He spent a total of 27 years in jail as a political prisoner. Interestingly he was every bit as much a political animal in prison as he was when a free man. He would argue for the right to eat decent food, or wear long trousers, or for the rights of his fellow inmates – just as he would argue for the rights of his fellow men and women within the broader scope of Africa. He has always has an innate sense of justice, wherever he is.

* He seems incredibly generous towards people, and throughout this long book there was not one instance of him harbouring a grudge. Always, in every situation, he strives for justice, rationality and peacemaking. Not peacemaking at all costs (it was his idea to implement a militant arm of the ANC), but peacemaking wherever possible. He continued his behind-the-scenes talks with President de Klerk in the early 1990s when most people would simply have walked away in frustration. He continued talking and liaising with the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) movement in South Africa, in spite of the degree to which they tried to undermine the efforts of the ANC. Always, Mandela was trying to establish ties, rather than cause rifts. He is also generous when talking about his two ex wives, being supportive of Winnie in spite of the publicity against her. In all his relationships with people he seems to have strived to keep channels of communication open, and relations civil. Given my very human propensity for pettiness, I could hardly believe the magnanimity of M’s spirit. But there it is - page after page testifying a commitment to openness and communication.


THE ANC

* The ANC was founded in 1912. M joined in 1944. For the most part it was an organisation of peaceful protest, but in the early 1960s M called for militant opposition. This was mostly to take the form of sabotage. It was decided that this would be carried out under separate umbrella – a militant arm of the ANC. This was called Umkhonto we Siziue (The Spear of the Nation), or “MK” for short.

*M and the ANC were outstanding in their support of racial inclusiveness. They felt that the fight for black people’s freedom could be fought by black people, coloureds, Indians and whites, and they sought racial harmony, alongside seeking justice. White South Africans are incredibly lucky that it was the ANC that came to be the party of power, and that the proposed way forward was one of peaceful reconciliation.

* The ANC were not always supported by other black independence groups in South Africa. PAC objected to their liberal view/inclusiveness towards different racial groups. The Inkatha Freedom Party also objected to them, though I have not really been able to fathom out why. It was a very nasty divide though, with the IFP being very aggressive, and there were many attacks and killings in ANC strongholds done by the IFP, especially when talks between M and President de Klerk became serious. Investigations found that the IFP had been given finances by the police, and other bodies that were against the breakdown of apartheid.


POLITICS AND LAW IN SOUTH AFRICA

* I always thought that the treatment of Africans, before the arrival of The Nationalist Party (the Afrikaans’ party) - in 1948 - was pretty decent. But this is some of the legislation that was introduced under the auspices of earlier, British-friendly governments.

- 1926 The Colour Bar Act:
This banned Africans from practising skilled trades.

- 1927 The Native Administration Act:
This made the British Crown, rather than the Paramount Chiefs, the supreme chief over all African areas.

- 1936 The Representation of Natives Act:
This removed Africans from the common voters’ roll in the Cape.

So – the rot was setting in well before The Nationalist Party came to power. But things went from bad to worse under The Nationalist Party.
Here is some of the legislation that they introduced.

1949 The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act

1949 The Immorality Act:
This made sexual relations between whites and non-whites illegal.

1950 The Population and Registration Act:
This labelled all South Africans by race.

1950 The Group Areas Act.
This required separate urban areas for each racial group.

1950 The Suppression of Communism Act:
This outlawed the Communist Party in South Africa.

1959 The introduction of the Bantustan System by Dr. Verwoerd.
Separate ethnic enclaves or homelands were created for all African citizens. Three million whites would have 87% of the land. Eight million Africans would have 13% of the land.

1963 The Ninety-Day Detention Law:
- This waived the right of habeas corpus
- Any police officer could detain any person – without a warrant – on grounds of suspicion of a political crime
- Those arrested could be detained without trial, charge, access to a lawyer, or protection against self-incrimination – for up to 90 days.
- And the 90-day detention could be extended, as John Vorster (Deputy Minister) said “until this side of eternity”, i.e., when a sentence had expired, the prisoner could just be re-detained without charge, rather than being released.

There were various everyday crimes that faced Africans. In 1952 M opened a law practice with Oliver Tambo, and on a daily basis they were defending people against these charges. At this time theirs was the only black law practice in the country.

Typical crimes specific to Africans.
- To use facilities designated for “Whites only”, eg a doorway, a bus, a drinking fountain, a beach.
- To be on the streets after 11pm.
- To be found without a pass book.
- To have the wrong signature in your pass book.
- To be unemployed, and in the wrong place.
- To have no place to live. (hide spoiler)]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This book is a must read for anyone remotely interested in South Africa. At 750 pages it is a bit of a door stopper – but it is infinitely readable. Mandela writes wonderfully well, and his story is utterly gripping. It was a bittersweet read for me at this time, as he draws to the end of his life. He has been a monument on our landscape for so long, and such a great hero in the eyes of so many. Me included.



...more
5

Jan 14, 2013

I tried reading this book SO many times right after it was published - but found myself so upset and saddened, that I realised I was simply not emotionally ready to deal with the contents. So - it sat on my shelf for nearly 10 years, before I felt ready and healed enough to pick the book up again.

It was, for me, a riveting read. I sobbed my way through a great many of the sections, I learned so much about the history of my country and the genesis of the African National Congress and its original I tried reading this book SO many times right after it was published - but found myself so upset and saddened, that I realised I was simply not emotionally ready to deal with the contents. So - it sat on my shelf for nearly 10 years, before I felt ready and healed enough to pick the book up again.

It was, for me, a riveting read. I sobbed my way through a great many of the sections, I learned so much about the history of my country and the genesis of the African National Congress and its original noble and lofty ideals.

The wisdom, strength, fortitude and humanity of Nelson Mandela - our Madiba - radiated from every page. I felt very enriched after closing the last page of the book. I also felt an immense sense of bereftment, anger [ because of the realisation about just how MUCH had in fact been censored and kept away from me, whilst growing up, by the Apartheid government] and also sadness. It took me months to process all of the information, but it certainly provided me with another layer of knowledge and perspective so as to better understand the psyche of the people of our Rainbow Nation. A must-read. ...more
5

Jan 27, 2013

If we do nothing else for those who suffer for a cause, we must at least bear witness and say, I have seen, and understood.

Many people the world over have waxed prolific and poetic on this book, and all that is left to say is, it is a must-read for anyone who cares about anything at all in this world. This struggle cannot be dismissed as a partisan "engagement". It is not just about apartheid; it is not about fighting a harsh regime; it is not about man's inhumanity to man -- and all that If we do nothing else for those who suffer for a cause, we must at least bear witness and say, I have seen, and understood.

Many people the world over have waxed prolific and poetic on this book, and all that is left to say is, it is a must-read for anyone who cares about anything at all in this world. This struggle cannot be dismissed as a partisan "engagement". It is not just about apartheid; it is not about fighting a harsh regime; it is not about man's inhumanity to man -- and all that "stuff" that so many readily dismiss, once the book is shelved again.

It is about one man, walking, and holding his head up despite everything that was thrown upon his shoulders. It is how to preserve dignity, strength and integrity -- and have the moral constitution to wake up to it day after day after day, for the entire course of his life. It's easy to maintain a posture for a day or a week or a month; but to hold on to it for a lifetime -- that is a strength that only a very few can maintain.

To emerge out of the darkness of his prison, of his life, and still shine with hope for humanity -- and faith that goodness will prevail -- leaves me speechless.



...more
4

Jun 21, 2015

I learned Nelson Mandela’s life from my high school history because of the word, apartheid. (Thanks to Mahatma Gandhi; he introduced him to us on his cause of Caste System in India.) However, I just scratched the surface of him t as my teacher did not tell much details about him as if he was not attached much importance to the subject. ( If I were my teacher, I would have told much more about him.) In fact, I mistook him for a Black-American. Uh-oh! I was still an ignoramus at that time despite I learned Nelson Mandela’s life from my high school history because of the word, apartheid. (Thanks to Mahatma Gandhi; he introduced him to us on his cause of Caste System in India.) However, I just scratched the surface of him t as my teacher did not tell much details about him as if he was not attached much importance to the subject. ( If I were my teacher, I would have told much more about him.) In fact, I mistook him for a Black-American. Uh-oh! I was still an ignoramus at that time despite the fact that I was enthused about studying history. Few years later, he drew my attention when he was in the news ; he was reported to have passed away. The world was so grieved by his death that he was almost the headlines of all the newspapers and news programs. Only that time did I realize that he was such a big name in the world. As usual, I desired to know him more by reading his life. However, I did not afford to buy his book then. Eventually, my generous-to-fault student gifted me this book. Of course, I grinned from ear to ear with joy. Full of enthusiasm, I started to read it. However, it took me time to finish it and ended up on my study table for a few months. The book is light because of Mandela’s prose but steeped in geographical places and anthropological and political terminologies only South African can almost relate to. Nevertheless, I liked it on account of Mandela’s ideologies, experiences, and speeches he delivered before his people.

I enjoyed reading Mandela’s autobiography because of his light English prose as the indication that he had studied well- typical of a smart student studying in English speaking countries. For your information, South Africa has many official languages, and English is one of them. Thus, not the majority of its population uses the language every day. Another impressive thing about writing his autobiography is his capability to incorporate his various feelings, be they in positive or negative, into his compelling narrations. Sometimes, other autobiographers write with highfalutin, highbrow, and high-flown stories or with unfathomably philosophical insights beyond my understanding (, but still I try to bend my mind to them until I bash my head against the wall ending up into a library of books or surfing the internet. Ones of best examples so far are Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Selected Writings and Poems.) Therefore, reading Mandela’s autobiography can be likened to a teen-ager’s diary. Everyone can take a fancy for his diary unless you are that a political animal. On the contrary, his usage of some political, geographical, and anthropological terms which I am not very much familiar with undermine the said like-a-teen-ager’s-diary element. You might get tired of them , saturated with the words you need to absorb in and turn over in your mind. In fact, it has 859 pages, the thickest book I have read this year. Thus, you have no choice but to turn to Google or to a library of history books if you are a Luddite in order to understand them by heart. That’s why I did not lay a finger on it for a few months. In the end, Mandela’s autobiography, in my hypothetical suggestion, could still be a critically acclaimed book for its two kinds ,A LONG WALK TO FREEDOM: NELSON MANDELA'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY: AN ABRIDGED VERSION- expunged some technical words and A LONG WALK TO FREEDOM: NELSON MANDELA'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY: UNABRIDGED VERSION, same with this original version.

Reading his speeches is also page-turning. There’s something about his speeches – they were like causing mass hysteria among South Africans at that time. I tend to read his narrations as fast as I could in order to imaginatively listen to them . As a matter of fact, I tended to search his speeches on Youtube wondering how he delivered them. I would say that Nelson Mandela, along with Malcolm X , has most moving speeches I have read so far.

Mandela’s autobiography reminded me of Malcolm X, another Black -American revolutionary who had somewhat the same cause—racial equality. Malcolm X , based on his best-selling authorized biography, also believed that Black-Americans should be equal to White Americans . He demonstrated against the culture of discrimination against his fellow Blacks. The only differences between their causes were: specifically, Mandela fought against the Apartheid whereas Malcolm X against general forms of discrimination. Still, both of their causes categorically fall to racial equality. Besides, there is one surprising thing that made me jump to my conclusion: Nelson Mandela’s last resort was using violence when he came to the point that diplomatic negotiation did not work at all. In fact, he had been influenced by the idea of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi on civil disobedience. After all , he succumbed to Malcolm X’ slogan , “ BY ANY NECESSARY MEANS.”, which I surmised he had disliked ;rather, admired Martin Luther King’s , “ I HAVE A DREAM.”I guess I can also conclude as well as you agree that , sometimes , in any circumstances even in history, Malcom X’s slogan worked and is feasible as long as this is the last resort as was Mandela’s. On the contrary, in the end, Mandela had proved that “virtue of patience” in the name of peaceful, friendly, and sincere ,as he put it, negotiation can work.
Likewise, Mandela was weaned on communism or Marxism - the political idea that also influenced Malcolm X and Richard Wright, famous for his books, The Native Son and Black Boy. Did this idea also occur to some revolutionaries in a place with insurgent atmosphere because of social injustice? So does to some at the present situation?

Before I finished it, Aristotle had taught me his The Republic, a philosophy book that also deals with the real meaning of JUSTICE. ( I haven’t written my review of it yet.) It has the dialogues among the Philosophers debating over the scopes of justice. As a student of his , discombobulated, mulling over his students’ philosophical explanation, upon reading Mandela’s autobiography, it dawned upon me that justice means equality. In other words, I applied understanding The Republic by Aristotle to Mandela’s book. For instance, for Plato and Socrates, justice is fulfilling one's appropriate role, and consequently giving to the city what is owed.* In a simple way, I want to illustrate the virtue Nelson Mandela believed in my life. I want that life in some aspects is “FAIR”. That’s why, without malice, without this air of pride and pompousness, I want to respect people regardless of their skin color , sex , and race ; I respect in action people with deeply-seated religious beliefs despite I have this Richard Dawkins’s –desire to change the world; I empathize “the destitute” despite that giving alms is not my principle except for “the needy”, but bringing them to their senses that capitalism is an evil, that living in this world is consummate “survival of the fittest”.

Mandela applied his rude awakening to equality to understanding the people he got along with . With this belief, he became a freedom fighter, stalwart, determined, humble with undefeated fighting spirit. That was Nelson Mandela, and in the end, despite the travails he had gone through, he made it to his final walk to FREEDOM.

Obviously, my long review of this book indicates my feeling of fulfillment. I am glad that I finished it after a short while. I do not regret having laid it aside on my study table. Just I let the time permit.

Thanks to my student ( Sr. Angela ) for picking it among the books in a book store, without the idea that I had longed to read it ; she had granted my wish. If I were a pantheist, I would exclaim ,”What a divine intervention!” ^_^
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5

May 21, 2007

What do I really have to say? :-) I read this before the first time I went to South Africa and fell in love with the country...hence two return trips! I had some amazing experiences during the pr days and one was a private tour of Robben Island with Ahmed Kathrada while in SA. He was imprisoned with and a close friend of Mandela's (one of eight sentenced to life imprisonment during the Rivonia Trial). Anyway, obviously it was amazing since he knew EVERYTHING about the time and place (he was What do I really have to say? :-) I read this before the first time I went to South Africa and fell in love with the country...hence two return trips! I had some amazing experiences during the pr days and one was a private tour of Robben Island with Ahmed Kathrada while in SA. He was imprisoned with and a close friend of Mandela's (one of eight sentenced to life imprisonment during the Rivonia Trial). Anyway, obviously it was amazing since he knew EVERYTHING about the time and place (he was there afterall), but reading this book before then allowed me to be much more knowledgeable about the politics of the time and more importantly, the life of such an extraodinary man. Though my anger did boil at times due to the injustice of what was happening, this book is 100% inspiration. I just could not put it down. I think it was like 800 pages or more, and I read it in two days, staying up all night! And to top it off, I met Mandela only a few days later at an event he hosted and it was one of very few times in my life that I was in complete awe! ...more
5

Jul 29, 2013

It is not very often that I set to read non-fiction. This book, however, was originally recommended to me by a Rwanda refugee and so I made an exception. What a good decision that was.
Although I was familiar with Mandela's life and South Africa's struggle against the apartheid regime, this book provided me with much more profound understanding of the struggle and the historical events leading to the eventual overthrow of the racist regime. This book, however, is much more than an account of a It is not very often that I set to read non-fiction. This book, however, was originally recommended to me by a Rwanda refugee and so I made an exception. What a good decision that was.
Although I was familiar with Mandela's life and South Africa's struggle against the apartheid regime, this book provided me with much more profound understanding of the struggle and the historical events leading to the eventual overthrow of the racist regime. This book, however, is much more than an account of a dark time period in the history of humanity. Above all, this book is an amazing portrayal of a life of a man, an exceptional man who is much too human. We are taken through time, from Mandela's childhood to his presidency, blessed with a unique view of a man marked to die in a secluded prison. His struggle to become a "first-class" citizen and the brutal force with which the then government crushes the hopes of the young men and women is only but a part of the story. Most importantly, we are allowed a unique window into Mandela's psyche and his philosophy, for this book, to me, is mostly about human spirit, its strengths and its weaknesses. Mandela's contemplations regarding the social order, humanity, law, schools and his personal approaches are fascinating and profound. He delves into the depths of human behavior in a fluid, understandable way; his words flow on the pages from one event onto the next, while maintaining a uniform message. Although he did engage in securing financing for a possible armed conflict, his hopes and faith reside in a non-violent solution. Mandela's life is, after all, one giant wound on the face of mankind. Neglected and abandoned by the superpowers of the world, the people of South Africa never lost hope and Mandela is a fascinating and shining example of a man, stripped of everything, who, no matter what life threw in his way, maintained his dignity and his sight not only on the problems, but also on the solutions. An amazing read I am happy to recommend. This book should be read by everyone. ...more
5

Jan 16, 2010

I bought this book in January and didn't get around to reading it until March. I was at a Goodwill 50% off sale the day I got this and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it.
As someone who has strong roots in South Africa but has never been there I am always eager to learn more about the country my father and his family were born in particularly because my father and his family left South Africa in the 40's to escape the apartheid even though they were "coloured" and not "black" it still I bought this book in January and didn't get around to reading it until March. I was at a Goodwill 50% off sale the day I got this and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it.
As someone who has strong roots in South Africa but has never been there I am always eager to learn more about the country my father and his family were born in particularly because my father and his family left South Africa in the 40's to escape the apartheid even though they were "coloured" and not "black" it still impacted them.
I hadn't read an autobiography or biography since I was younger and I knew that even though I'm a quick reader that this book would take me a while to read due to the tone.
I'm quite impressed with Mandela's story telling ability. He narrates his life flawlessly in a way that is easy to read and understand. It was informative and I enjoyed learning things from his perspective. I quite enjoyed the part at the start of the book where he talks about his childhood and his family.
This book had no downsides for me. He's a truly inspirational man who deserves praise for being one of the people who helped build the New South Africa. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to expand their horizons and read a book about one of the most inspirational people ever. ...more
4

Oct 31, 2007

It was an interesting read. Sorry, that's a bit of an understatement and the dry tone in my head doesn't really translate. Mandela is a good, clear writer, but not creative or inventive. One can see the methodical planning that made him such an effective political leader and innovator, but as the author of a 625 page book, his style is a little stiff. The first half of the book is about his upbringing and path into politics. The problem I was having was that there was no way to tell from his It was an interesting read. Sorry, that's a bit of an understatement and the dry tone in my head doesn't really translate. Mandela is a good, clear writer, but not creative or inventive. One can see the methodical planning that made him such an effective political leader and innovator, but as the author of a 625 page book, his style is a little stiff. The first half of the book is about his upbringing and path into politics. The problem I was having was that there was no way to tell from his formative years how or why he stood apart. Indeed, I would say that as a literary figure, he does not become a leader until after he has been imprisoned for several years, past when he was considered a leader by members of his organization and constituency. Almost as if he needed to be a leader in the eyes of others before he considered himself to be one or truly acted as one. Maybe it is the reality that one cannot lead until after there are people who will follow that lead. I am interested in how he became such a leader in the eyes of the people. What is it about someone that turns them from an ordinary person to a freedom fighter or revolutionary to a true leader, born up by the masses.

I was also comparing the regime of South Africa to those in South America. The ANC and other groups in South Africa had certain advantages which made their form of protest -- the slow-downs, the rallies -- successful and possible, and ironically, the advantages stemmed from the control exercised by the colonial rulers and the legacy of British Imperialism. Mandela could, at times, invoke certain rules of law, and demand that the protesters were treated fairly under the laws. Whatever the laws at the time were (except the very last years where it seems the government learned that if they wanted to get serious about suppressing the people, they could not be hampered by the rule of law), the government would obey them. In contrast, in the South American dictatorships, headed not by imperial forces, there was no rule of law. People simply disappeared. The revolutionaries could not appeal to the court system for justice because the government did not have laws that even nominally protected dissenting voices. One thing Mandela said over and over again was the oppressing party dictated the terms of the struggle. Those who were challenging the government's policies had to respond in the manner in which they were treated. In India, the government allowed protest and dissent, which in turn meant that Ghandi could demonstrate by walking though the country and preaching nonviolence as a means of rejecting colonial rule. In contrast, in South America, a protester could not more begin to speak against the government before being shot, imprisoned or tortured, with no chance of appealing to a higher power for protection. Maybe that is why there were more rebels in countries trying to overturn the dictatorships than there were revolutionaries in the Western understanding of the term.

At the end of the book, when the power was really going to shift and Mandela, in his 80s, was elected president, I actually became more agitated. At what price was his freedom? And what would the people who fought so hard, who died, paying the ultimate price, think? Those who died, would they think their sacrifices worth while, especially because in the end it was through peaceful negotiation and compromise. With the transition away from apartheid being so moderate and their sacrifice being so extreme. Maybe it was the disconnect that struck me so forcefully, that Mandela himself never talks about being tortured or injured in the struggle. Throughout he remains the great statesmen who is untouched by the violence. Those who were tortured, hanged, beaten, or shot, by contrast seem like a corollary, unrelated to the final pressures that forced the government's position to the negotiation table. ...more
5

Apr 22, 2008

I learned (as if I didn't already know) that I am one slack m*^&rf&*ker, and this is the perfect book to read if you need some motivation to get off your ass and/or get over yourself.

There are also a lot of fascinating things about his story that i didn't know -he grew up literally barefoot in the bush, bailed on being a tribal councilor and ran away from home, and a lot of interesting ins and outs of how african consciousness developed in SA the 60s and 70s, plus tips on how to keep I learned (as if I didn't already know) that I am one slack m*^&rf&*ker, and this is the perfect book to read if you need some motivation to get off your ass and/or get over yourself.

There are also a lot of fascinating things about his story that i didn't know -he grew up literally barefoot in the bush, bailed on being a tribal councilor and ran away from home, and a lot of interesting ins and outs of how african consciousness developed in SA the 60s and 70s, plus tips on how to keep yourself motivated and entertained if you ever end up in jail. Considering the current state of this country this could turn out to be very useful info if we all wind up in gitmo! :)

Overall I'd say enlightening, inspiring, interesting. ...more
4

May 16, 2014

I've known far too little about Nelson Mandela. I knew who he was, of course, and some of the bare outlines of his life. But I think I'd fallen into knowing little more than what Cornel West, after Mandela's death, called the "Santa-Clausification" of the South African leader. By that, he meant the process of turning Mandela from who he was into a harmless, strangely apolitical grandfatherly figure that could be used as a symbol by left and right alike.

Note: The rest of this review has been I've known far too little about Nelson Mandela. I knew who he was, of course, and some of the bare outlines of his life. But I think I'd fallen into knowing little more than what Cornel West, after Mandela's death, called the "Santa-Clausification" of the South African leader. By that, he meant the process of turning Mandela from who he was into a harmless, strangely apolitical grandfatherly figure that could be used as a symbol by left and right alike.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook ...more
4

Dec 24, 2018

While walking on "A long way to freedom", Nelson Mandela is definitely in history. "History is the meeting of a will and an event. Said Charles de Gaulle and this definition perfectly summarizes the path of the Nobel Peace Prize.

So many books, articles, exciting reports have been published about Nelson Mandela that I will not summarize his career but I will just give my feelings to listen to the audio version of his autobiography.
Feodor Atkine, with perfect diction, makes the text more intimate. While walking on "A long way to freedom", Nelson Mandela is definitely in history. "History is the meeting of a will and an event. Said Charles de Gaulle and this definition perfectly summarizes the path of the Nobel Peace Prize.

So many books, articles, exciting reports have been published about Nelson Mandela that I will not summarize his career but I will just give my feelings to listen to the audio version of his autobiography.
Feodor Atkine, with perfect diction, makes the text more intimate. Nelson Mandela gives a chronological account of all events from birth to release from prison. It was also a great disappointment for me that the CD ends on this episode and does not address his arrival in power. the text read (6:15) is an abridged version of the book and I do not know if the book stops at that time.

His memories, punctuated by shocking scenes, are written with great honesty, they are detailed, modest, mainly centered on his political fight. And if one may regret too much restraint, they are important for posterity and historians. They are very eager to see the film from this work and to read the books about this man who wanted to show that he was not a saint but a determined man.

I warmly thank editions Audiolib and Babelio for these beautiful moments spent listening to this unforgettable text that gives confidence in man. Memories to remember, always. ...more
4

Oct 10, 2014

Recently, I was teaching a class where the students read an essay about the reconciliation meetings that were done in South Africa.
And my students did not know, or claimed not know, who Mandela was.
Sad, but true.
As time goes on, we forgot. We are a nation that has been, and in many ways still is, affected by 9-11, but the average college freshman who is currently 18 was 5 then. There are people whose understanding of apartheid, if they have one, is one of distance and this happened last Recently, I was teaching a class where the students read an essay about the reconciliation meetings that were done in South Africa.
And my students did not know, or claimed not know, who Mandela was.
Sad, but true.
As time goes on, we forgot. We are a nation that has been, and in many ways still is, affected by 9-11, but the average college freshman who is currently 18 was 5 then. There are people whose understanding of apartheid, if they have one, is one of distance and this happened last generation.
It’s the nature of time, but we do fight against it. We read the words of those who lived it.
This is why Mandela’s book should be read. Because we should know, beyond doubt that we should know.
Because Mandela’s book is honesty. He doesn’t really excuse, but explains the radical steps that he had to take. He re-considers them and shows why such steps were considered. He doesn’t hide what he was – either in the past or when he was writing the book. Understanding his power, knowledge is power. And that type of power changes the world.
That is why we, as the human race, should remember not to forget.
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5

Feb 03, 2014

It was indeed a long, long walk to freedom. Apartheid, established in 1948 in South Africa, was abolished in 1990. Nelson Mandela is one of the most well-known icons of the fight against this discriminatory system. This book explores his life, historical and political events during his lifetime, his thoughts and feelings as well as his contribution to the fight against apartheid and racism.

The book starts off with Mandela's childhood days, and sketches out his family connections and his It was indeed a long, long walk to freedom. Apartheid, established in 1948 in South Africa, was abolished in 1990. Nelson Mandela is one of the most well-known icons of the fight against this discriminatory system. This book explores his life, historical and political events during his lifetime, his thoughts and feelings as well as his contribution to the fight against apartheid and racism.

The book starts off with Mandela's childhood days, and sketches out his family connections and his prospects if he had not become the father of the nation. This part drags a little, especially since I had no sympathy with the undemocratic procedures of ruling in the African tribes that keep out women and are authoritarian to a large extent. Mandela's first step towards freedom was when he ran away to escape an arranged (read,forced) marriage. From this point on, the story picks up as it explores his coming to terms with the knowledge of how his colour has the ability to influence his choices. The most interesting part of the book is the middle part where he describes his time in prison in detail. It is both horrifying and edifying and it is during these chapters that the reader develops a strong empathy with the man. The last part of the book deals with his life after prison, politics and the dismantling of apartheid. It also deals with the elections, violence and how Mandela ultimately becomes President.

Mandela is a thoughtful and educated man and has analysed everything in detail before he set it down on paper. Hence, he was able to tell us exactly what stand he took on an issue, why he took that stand and he also goes through the entire procedure of arriving at a decision. This serves to give a greater understanding of the man himself. I really enjoyed the small tidbits of his personal life and his relationships with other members of the ANC. There are flashes of humour in the book, and the emotions come through as well. While reading this book, one needs to remember that this is Mandela's story, and hence, his viewpoints and his thoughts about life and politics are what have been explained in detail. For example, there are instances where he makes excuses for a terrorist attack by claiming it was the inevitable result of oppression. He also overlooks Winnie Mandela's crimes. I disagree, but these are the events seen from his perspective.

One of the most interesting features of this book is that it showcases apartheid and its results in detail. He shows how apartheid affects every section of society. Even in prison, there is a distinction in the way different prisoners are treated on the basis of their colour. There was one incident that really stood out. When Mandela travels by plane on an underground mission, he was startled and fearful on seeing that the pilot was a black man. If this is how an activist fighting for freedom of black people reacts instinctively to black people in power, we have a long way to go to achieve true equality. Another interesting thing is that for most of the struggle against apartheid, Mandela was out of bounds, unable to communicate with his comrades and had no freedom of movement or any real political power. At one point, he mentions that the public had not seen his face for thirty years. Yet, he inspired a nation and took steps to bring about a peaceful beginning to a democratic State.

The book also makes a political statement, especially in the final chapters. Mandela stands up for ANC consistently and completely, so he is definitely boosting the party image. It helps to have a basic working knowledge of South African history and politics while reading this book. Mandela mentions all the major events and goes through their effects but I found I yearned for more knowledge to understand the situation better. I was consistently looking up everything for a more detailed analysis. For example, I had no idea why exactly opposed the 'group rights' clause so vehemently. This often happened because I guess the author wrote for a South African audience. The final chapters were too rushed but I guess it would take another lengthy book to make sense of the South African politics from 1990-1994.

I think this is a great book by a great man. It is not just what he aimed for in his life, but his spirit of compassion, inclusiveness, forgiveness and ability to live by his principles that made him great.

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5

Apr 23, 2013

7 Stars

At the end of this book I'm left with a number of emotions: humility, awe, wonder.

I've thought long and hard about how to review this book and already the word count is much higher than I'd wanted it to be. It is one of those books that, as a member of humanity itself, you are simply obliged to read.

It should be required reading for everyone, everywhere.

I will read it again many times in my life. Of this I am sure. I feel honored to have "shared" in his life vicariously by means of 7 Stars

At the end of this book I'm left with a number of emotions: humility, awe, wonder.

I've thought long and hard about how to review this book and already the word count is much higher than I'd wanted it to be. It is one of those books that, as a member of humanity itself, you are simply obliged to read.

It should be required reading for everyone, everywhere.

I will read it again many times in my life. Of this I am sure. I feel honored to have "shared" in his life vicariously by means of this autobiography.

One word kept popping into my mind as various scenes and anecdotes were recounted, a word which, to me personally, describes Rolihlala (Nelson) Mandela for me. In addition to "Freedom Fighter" and "Liberator" and all the endless terms that have been used to describe this man, I have a new one which I think you will use to describe him as well upon reading his story: He was, and is, a Gentleman, in the highest and noblest form that the word can be used.

I have said nothing about the style of writing or how the story is told. My review (which keeps growing in word count!) would not be so laudatory if the narrative itself had not been so expertly executed, with build-ups and climaxes and tense moments, all superbly written. Even those of you not into non-fiction should enjoy it.

I am a different person after having read this. It is a truly humbling account, for many reasons--both obvious and not.
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5

Jul 10, 2013

If you ask my daughter why she chose to move to Africa, she will tell you that it must have been her long childhood exposure to Paul Simon's "Graceland." But I think the truth actually lies in her exposure to the extraordinary life story of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela is a world treasure: principled, dedicated, uncompromising, and consistently both human and humane.

This autobiography recounts Mandela's life from early childhood in a Transkei village, through the political awakening of his If you ask my daughter why she chose to move to Africa, she will tell you that it must have been her long childhood exposure to Paul Simon's "Graceland." But I think the truth actually lies in her exposure to the extraordinary life story of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela is a world treasure: principled, dedicated, uncompromising, and consistently both human and humane.

This autobiography recounts Mandela's life from early childhood in a Transkei village, through the political awakening of his young adulthood, his activism for racial equality in apartheid South Africa, and the terrible sacrifice he made for his people when he was held as a political prisoner, often in deplorable conditions, his only crime being one of conscience. It is a measure of the man that he emerged from over 27 years of profoundly unjust treatment, still prepared to become an inclusive leader of all of the people of South Africa.

This kind of book, as detailed as it is on the evolution and politics of the ANC, could easily have been a slow read. But Long Walk to Freedom is anything but that; it is a compelling page turner.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to do it justice. ...more

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