Current Affairs

Nelson Mandela – A Long Walk to Freedom

Nelson Mandela, born on July 18, 1918. was the first South African President to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Trained as an attorney, he helped form the Youth League of the African National Congress (ANC)in 1944. In 1961 he abandoned peaceful protest and became head of the ANC’s new military wing. Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, Mandela came to symbolize black political aspirations and was named Peace Prize for negotiating South Africa’s peaceful transition to multiracial democracy. After the ANC victory in the April 1994 elections, Mandela worked to ease racial tensions court foreign investment, and provide services to the victims of apartheid.
In life, every man has twin obligations obligations to his family, to his parents, to his wife and children and he has an obligation tohispeople, his community and his country. In a civil and humane society, each man is able to fulfilthose obligations according to his own inclinations and abilities. But in a country likesouth Africa, itwasalmostimpossible for a man of my birth and colour to fulfil both of those obligations. In South Africa aman of colour who attempted tolive asahuman being was punished and isolated. In South Africa. a man who tried to fulfil his duty to his people was inevitably ripped from his family and his home and was forced to livealife apart, a twilight existence of secrecy and rebellion Idid not in the beginning choose to place my people above my family, but in attempting to serve my people, I found that I was prevented from fulfilling my obligations as a son, a brother, father and a husband. I was not born with a hunger to be free. I was born free in every way that free could know. Free to run in the fields near my mother’s hut, free to swim in the clear stream that ran through my village, free to roast mealies under the stars and ride the broad backs of slow-moving bulls. As long as I obeyed my father and abided by the customs of my tribe, I was not troubled by the laws of man or God.

It was only when I began to learn that my boyhood freedom was an illusion, when I discovered as a young man that my freedom had already been taken from me, that I began to hunger for it.Atfirst, as a student I wanted freedom only for myself, the transitory freedoms of being able to stay out at night, read what pleased and go where Ichose.Later, as a young man in Johannesburg, I yearned for the basic and honourable freedoms of achieving my potential, of earning my keep, of marrying and having a family the freedom not to be obstructed in a lawful life.

But then I slowly saw that not only was Inot free, but my brothers and sisters were not free. I saw that it was not just my freedom that was curtailed, but the freedom of everyone who looked like I did. That is when I joined the African National Congress, and that is when the hunger for my own freedom became the greater hunger for the freedom of my people. It was this desire for the freedom of my people to live their lives with dignity and self. respect that animated my life, that transformed a frightened young man into abold one, that drove a law-abiding attomey to become a criminal, that turned a family-loving husband into a man without a home, that forced a life-loving man to live like a monk. I am no more virtuous or self-sacrificing than the next man, but I found that I could not even enjoy the poor and limited freedoms I was allowed when knew my people were not free. Freedom is indivisible; the chains on anyone of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me I knew that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred: he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and nar I am not truly free iflam taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity. 

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