Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom Overview
Chapter-2 Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom is an extract from the autobiography of Nelson Mandela (born- 18 July, 1918), the first Black President of South Africa. It begins with the description of their inaugural ceremony which took place on the 10th of May 1994 where the entire nation along with many international leaders embraced the victory of a newly and fairly elected government. It involved speeches by the President and the two Deputy Presidents followed by an impressive air show of fighter jets and helicopters. Long ago, in the first decade of the twentieth century, white supremacy introduced the system of apartheid and made life a living hell for the dark-skinned population. It gave rise to one of the most inhumane societies of the world. Many people have struggled and sacrificed for basic human rights. The author expressed his desire to thank all those freedom fighters who couldn’t live to see this autumn day. He referred to the citizens as the greatest asset of the country. It is these people he gathered his courage from. Mandela believes that courageous is not the man who is fearless, but the man who has overcome fear. He also mentioned the two responsibilities every human has and how in order to fulfil his obligation towards the society, his obligation towards his family was neglected. He became a man of people when he realised that the idea of freedom was an illusion for him and people like him. It was then he joined the African National Congress and fought for his rights till he became the first black President of the nation. According to him, the oppressor is as much a prisoner as the oppressed. As soon as the former robs the oppressed of their freedom he, himself gets robbed of his humanity. Thus, the oppressor too, is not free.
Difficult Word Meanings
(of a day) began
Pleasantly- giving a sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment; satisfying
Besieged- to be surrounded by
Dignitaries- a person considered to be important because of high rank or office.
Sandstone- sedimentary rock consisting of sand or quartz grains cemented
together, typically red, yellow, or brown in colour.
Amphitheatre- an open – air theatre
Supremacy- the state or condition of being superior to all others in authority,
power, or status
Deputy- Second in command
Sworn- given under oath; determined to stay in the
Pledged- committed (a person or organization) by a
Assembled- (of people) gather together in one place for a common purpose
Outlaws- because of its policy of apartheid, many
countries had earlier broken off diplomatic relations with South Africa
On our own soil- in our own country
Dignity- the state or quality of being worthy of respect.
Emancipation- the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or
Liberate- free; release
Bondage- the state of being a slave
Discrimination- being treated differently or unfavourably
Deprivation- the damaging lack of material benefits considered to be basic necessities in a society
Oppression- prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority.
More Word Meanings
Glorious- having, worthy of, or bringing fame or
Reign- rule; govern
Spectacular- beautiful in a dramatic and an eye-catching way
Array- an impressive display
Troop- soldiers or armed forces
Unmindful- not conscious or aware
Chevron- a pattern in the shape of a V
Trail- series; chain
be a symbol of
Lyrics- the words of a song
Despised- hated, had a very low opinion of
Overwhelmed- have a strong emotional effect
Erected- build; construct
Racial domination- when people of one race have power over another race
Unimaginable- difficult or impossible to imagine
Patriots- a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies
a policy or system of segregation on grounds of race
Profound- very great or intense
Unintended- not planned or meant
Comrades- a colleague or a fellow member of an organisation
Resilience- the ability to deal with any kind of hardship and recover from its
Defies- refuse to obey
Triumph- great victory or achievement
Grimmest- very serious or gloomy
Glimmer- shine faintly with a wavering light
Pushed to our limits- pushed to the last point in
our ability to bear pain
Reassure- say or do something to remove the doubts
Obligations- a duty or a commitment
Civil- courteous and polite
Inclination- natural tendencies of behaviour
Twilight- half-light, semi-darkness
Secrecy- the action of keeping something secret
Rebellion- the action or process of resisting authority, convention or control
Stream- a small, narrow river
Mealies- a maize plant
Boyhood- the state or time of being a boy
Illusion- a false idea or belief
Transitory- not permanent
Yearned- have an intense feeling or longing for something
Curtailed- reduce; impose a restriction on
Dignity- the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect
Frightened- afraid or anxious
Monk- a member of a religious community of men typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience
Virtuous- having or showing high moral standards
Indivisible- unable to be divided or separated
Prejudice- a strong dislike without any good reason
Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom Question Answer
Q1. Where did the ceremonies take place? Can you name any public buildings in India that are made of sandstone?
Ans:- The ceremonies took place in the lovely sandstone amphitheatre.
In India, the buildings like the Red Fort, the Parliament House are made of sandstones.
Q2. Can you say how 10 May is an ‘autumn day’ in South Africa?
Ans:- 10 May is an ‘autumn day’ in South Africa in two perspectives-
In first perspectives, 10 May is the day of dawning of freedom after more than 300 years of white domination.
In second perspectives, as South Africa is in the Southern hemisphere, so it is autumn season there.
Q3. At the beginning of his speech, Mandela mentions ‘an extraordinary human disaster’. What does he mean by this? What is the ‘glorious… human achievement’ he speaks of at the end?
Ans:- By ‘an extraordinary human disaster’, Mandela means that the policy of apartheid where the blacks were suppressed and dominated by the whites of South African.
At the end, he speaks of the whites’ regime and the achievement of political freedom of the blacks is the glorious achievement.
Q4. What does Mandela thank the international leaders for?
Ans:- Mandela thanks the international leaders to stand firm with the people of South Africa.
Q5. What ideals does he set out for the future of South Africa?
Ans:- For the future of South Africa, Mandela sets out the ideals are an end to poverty, deprivations, sufferings, gender and other discriminations.
Oral Comprehension Check-
Q1. What do the military generals do? How has their attitude changed and why?
Ans:- The military generals carried out the orders of the white rulers during the whites’ regime.
Their attitude has changed by attaining the political freedom and now Nelson Mandela have elected as the President of South Africa.
Q2. Why were two national anthems sung?
Ans:- To give both the white and the black people equal importance on this historic day of the installation of the first non-racial government the two national anthems were sung.
Q3. How does Mandela describe the systems of government in his country?
(i) In the first decade?
(ii) In the final decade of the 20th Century?
Ans:- Mandela describes that, in the first decade, the white-skinned people created a structure which formed on the basis of one of the most inhumane, harshest, societies the world has ever known.
In the final decade of the 20th Century, the system had been replaced by a system that recognised the rights and freedoms of all people regardless of the colour of their skin.
Q4. What does courage mean to Mandela?
Ans:- According to Mandela, courage is not absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
Q5. Which does he think is natural, to love or to hate?
Ans:- He thinks that love some more naturally to the human heart than hate.
Thinking About the Text-
Q1. Why did such a large number of international leaders attend the inauguration? What did it signify the triumph?
Ans:- A large number of international leaders attended the inauguration, because it was the historic day of the formation of the first democratic and non-racial government in South Africa.
It signified the triumph of peace, justice and human dignity.
Q2. What does Mandela mean when he says he is ‘simply the sum of all those African patriots’, who had gone before him?
Ans:- By saying the above statement, Mandela meant that a large number of black patriots had given their lives fighting against the policy of apartheid. He meant to say that he was simply a part of the freedom movement started by the great leaders who had gone before him.
Q3. Would you agree that the ‘depts. of oppression’ create ‘heights of character’? How does Mandela illustrate this? Can you add your own examples to this argument?
Ans:- We cannot deny the fact that the ‘depts. of oppression’ create ‘heights of character’. We have so many examples where oppression produced great leaders. Some of them are- Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Chief Luthuli, Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer and so on. Our beloved Nelson Mandela is one of the examples too.
Q4. How did Mandela’s understanding of freedom change with age and experience?
Ans:- With age and experience, Mandela’s understanding of freedom changed a lot. During earlier age, he was free to run in the fields, to swim in the clear stream and so. But soon he learnt that his boyhood freedom was not free and even his brothers’ and sisters’ freedom too were curtailed. Realising these, he joined African National Congress. The hunger for his own freedom now became the hunger for the freedom of his people.
Q5. How did Mandela’s ‘hunger for freedom’ change his life?
Ans:- Mandela’s hunger for freedom changed his life from a law abiding attorney to a criminal. This hunger for freedom turned a family loving husband into a man without a home.
Oral Comprehension Check-
Q1. What ‘twin obligations’ does Mandela mention?
Ans:- Mandela mentions that every man has twin obligations in life. One obligation is to his family, parents, wife and children. The other obligation is to his people, community, country and so on.
Q2. What did being free mean to Mandela as a boy, and as a student? How does he contrast these ‘transitory freedoms’ with ‘the basic and honourable freedoms’?
Ans:- Freedom for Mandela meant to run freely in the fields, to swim in the clear stream and so when he was a boy,. As a student, he wanted freedom only for himself, the freedom of being able to stay out at night, to read what he liked and go where he want. But these were transitory freedoms.
But ‘the basic and honourable freedoms’ were the freedoms of achieving his potential, earning his keep marrying and having a family. He wanted the freedom not to be obstructed from leading a lawful life.
Q3. Does Mandela think the oppressor is free? Why/ why not?
Ans:- No, Mandela does not think that the oppressor is free. The oppressor is not free because a man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred. He is locked behind the bars of prejudices and narrow mindedness.