Title: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
Author: Nelson Mandela
Publisher: Little Brown & co.
The interesting biographies of one of the great moral and political leaders of our time. An international hero whose accomplishments won him the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
Since his release in February 1990. Nelson Mandela has emerged as the world’s most significant moral leader since Mahatma 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. And throughout the world, he is revered as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.
Nelson Mandela is the foster son of a Tembu chief. Mandela grew up balancing two worlds. The traditional culture of his tribe, and the hostile reality of a white-dominated nation. He sign his carer in law, but Mandela’s growing political awareness moved him. All of this to become more actively engaged. And he played a pivotal role in the formation of the ANC Youth League. In the early 1950s, he initiated the `defiance campaign’ against the biased policies of the South African government. And argued for non-violent resistance to apartheid. However, following the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, his position changed. And he was forced underground to avoid the newly-imposed ban on the ANC.
The horrors at Sharpeville hardened Mandela’s resolve. And he began to promote a different course of `non-terrorist action. Aimed at the state but probably preventing civilian unrest. In 1964 he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of provocation to sabotage crime and violent conspiracy against the South African regime. Mandela was to spend a total of twenty-seven years in captivity, most of them in the notorious prison on Robben Island.
Now, following the serious events of 1994. Nelson Mandela clearly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape his destiny. The years operating undercover effectively classed as a `terrorist’ by the state; the surprisingly important quarter-century behind bars. When his dedication to the cause raised him to the status of martyr, icon and inspiration; and the astonishing moves towards the ANC’s near-landslide victory in the breakthrough multi-racial elections of April 1994, when Mandela became South Africa’s first-ever black President.
Emotive, compelling and uplifting, `LONG WALK TO FREEDOM’ is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph, told with clarity and eloquence of a born leader.
Nelson Mandela’s autobiography ‘Long Walk To Freedom’ (1994; Abacus) is one of the most rewarding books I can remember ever reading. It had been on my bedside stack of ‘must read’ books for years but I finally got round to it, and I’m glad I did.
The Abacus paperback edition runs to 750 pages, so it’s not a quick read. On the contrary, it is utterly absorbing. It took over my life for several weeks, and when I finished it, I felt somewhat bereft!
The book is beautiful and the writing has its aesthetics. No doubt Mandela had editors and various helpers, but the man’s singular voice rings out from every page. The manuscript is based on his political memoir which writes clandestinely while he lay in prison on Robben Island in 1974. His copy got confiscate by the prison authorities but due to the amazing resourcefulness of his colleagues. A copy got smuggle out and survive. It never got the chance to publish but formed the basis of this book.
Mandela’s story begins with his quite primitive upbringing and tribal origins in the Transkei. He was anything but a model student and had to struggle for his academic achievements, but this makes Mandela’s life all the more remarkable.
It is horrifying to read of the indignities forced on the black South Africans during the apartheid era and to recall that it happened not so long ago – in my lifetime
The sacrifices Mandela made, the determined fight for freedom in which he never wavered, make inspirational reading. Despite 27 and a half years in jail, and the harshest of treatment, his convictions never faltered. And he never allows himself to fall into pieces by the system. For all the appalling treatment of Mandela and his African National Congress colleagues, there is not a single word of bitterness or self-pity in this massive book. What a man!
The world desperately needs more heroes like Mandela. And we need to celebrate them and never forget them.