Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – NCERT Solutions

Q. 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 formed by the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and the Parliament House are made of sandstone.

Q. Can you say how 10 May is an ‘Autumn day’ in South Africa?

Ans. South Africa falls in the southern hemisphere. In this hemisphere, there is autumn in the month of May. So, 10th May is an autumn day in South Africa.

Q. 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. The extraordinary human disaster was the oppression of the blacks by the whites of South Africa and the policy of apartheid. The end of the oppression, according to Mandela, and the achievement of freedom is the glorious human achievement.

Q. What does Mandela thank the international leaders for?

Ans. Mandela thanks the international leaders to stand firm with the people of South Africa of what is a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity.

Q. What ideals does he set out for the future of South Africa?

Ans. The ideals that Mandela sets out for the future of South Africa are an end to poverty, deprivation, suffering and any kind of discrimination.

Q. What do the military generals do? How has their attitude changed, and why?

Ans. The military generals had been carrying out the orders of the white rulers so far. But now they salute Mandela. Their attitude has changed because Mandela is now the President of South Africa.

Q. Why were two national anthems sung?

Ans. It was the occasion of the installation of the first non-racial government. Both the white and the black had to pay reverence to their different national anthems. So two national anthems were sung to give them equal importance on this memorable occasion.

Q. How does Mandela describe the systems of government in his country (i) in the first decade, and (ii) in the final decade, of the twentieth century?

Ans. In the first decade, the white created a structure which formed the basis of one of the harshest, most inhumane, societies the world has ever known. In the last decade that system had been replaced by a system that recognises the rights and freedoms of all peoples, regardless of the colour of their skin.

Q. What does courage mean to Mandela?

Ans. Courage for Mandela was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Q. Which does he think is natural, to love or to hate?

Ans. According to Mandela, love comes more naturally to the human heart than hate.

Q. What ‘‘twin obligations’’ does Mandela mention?

Ans. According to Mandela, a person has twin obligations—the first is to his family and the second to his nation.

Q. 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. When Mandela was a boy, freedom for him meant to run freely in the fields and to swim in the streams. As a student, Mandela wanted the freedom to stay out at night, read what he liked and to go where he wanted to go. But these were transitory freedoms. As a young man, he wanted the basic and honourable freedoms. He wanted to achieve his potential, to earn his keep, of marrying and to have a family. In other words, he wanted the freedom not to be prevented from leading a lawful life.

Q. Does Mandela think the oppressor is free? Why/Why not?

Ans. Mandela thinks that the oppressor is not free. This is because a man who takes away someone’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred.

Q. Why did such a large number of international leaders attend the inauguration? What did it signify the triumph of?

Ans. A large number of international leaders had gathered to attend the inauguration of the first democratic non-racial government in South Africa. It signified the triumph of justice, peace and human dignity.

Q. What does Mandela mean when he says he is ‘‘simply the sum of all those African patriots’’ who had gone before him?

Ans. A large number of black leaders had sacrificed their lives fighting against the policy of apartheid. Mandela followed the path shown by these patriots. He means to say that he is simply a part of the freedom movement started by leaders who had gone before him.

Q. Would you agree that the ‘depths of oppression’ create ‘heights of character’? How does Mandela illustrate this? Can you add your own examples to this argument?

Ans. It is true that the depths of oppression create heights of character. World history is full of examples where oppression produced great leaders. In South Africa, decades of oppression and brutality produced great leaders who possessed heights of character. It produced leaders like Oliver Tambos, the Walter Sisulus, the Chief Luthulis, the Yusuf Dadoos, the Bram Fischers, the Robert Sobukwes and Mandela himself.

Q. How did Mandela’s understanding of freedom change with age and experience?

Ans. Mandela was not born with a hunger to be free. In his boyhood, he was free to run in the fields, to swim, etc. As long as he obeyed his father and abided by the customs of his tribe, he experienced no trouble. But soon he realised that his boyhood freedom was an illusion. As a student, he wanted freedom only for himself. But slowly he saw that he was not free. His brothers and sisters were not free. Their freedom was curtailed. That was when he joined the African National Congress. The hunger for his own freedom now became the hunger for the freedom of his people. He wanted them to live their lives with dignity and self-respect.

Q. How did Mandela’s hunger for freedom change his life?

Ans. Mandela’s hunger for freedom made him join the African National Congress. He wanted freedom of his people so that they could live with dignity and self-respect. This definitely made him fearless. It changed a frightened young man into a bold one. He was a law-abiding attorney but was forced to become a criminal. This hunger for freedom turned a familyloving husband into a man without a home. This forced a lifeloving man to live like a monk.

Q. There are nouns in the text (formation, government) which are formed from the corresponding verbs (form, govern) by suffixing–(at)ion or ment. There may be a change in the spelling of some verb-noun pairs: such as rebel, rebellion; constitute, constitution.

Make a list of such pairs of nouns and verbs in the text.


Noun Verb
rebellion rebel
constitution constitute
inauguration inaugurate
oppression oppress
celebration celebrate
imagination imagine
installation instal
expression express
separation separate

Q. Read the paragraph below. Fill in the blanks with the noun forms of the verbs in brackets.

Martin Luther King’s ____________ (contribute) to our history as an outstanding leader began when he came to the ____________ (assist) of Rosa Parks, a seamstress who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. In those days American Blacks were confined to positions of second class citizenship by restrictive laws and customs. To break these laws would mean ____________ (subjugate) and ____________ (humiliate) by the police and legal system. Beatings, ____________ (imprison) and sometimes death awaited those who defied the System. Martin Luther King’s tactics of protest involved non-violent ____________ (resist) to racial injustice.


  1. contribution
  2. assistance
  3. subjugation
  4. humiliation
  5. imprisonment
  6. resistance

Q. Here are some more examples of ‘the’ used with proper names. Try to say what these sentences mean. (You may consult a dictionary if you wish. Look at the entry for ‘the’).

  1. Mr Singh regularly invites the Amitabh Bachchans and the Shah Rukh Khans to his parties.
  2. Many people think that Madhuri Dixit is the Madhubala of our times.
  3. History is not only the story of the Alexanders, the Napoleons and the Hitlers, but of ordinary people as well.


  1. In the first sentence use of ‘the’ before Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh means the families of Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.
  2. In the second sentence use of ‘the’ before Madhubala means the talent of Madhubala. Madhuri Dixit has been compared with Madhubala in beauty. Madhuri Dixit is as beautiful as Madhubala used to be in her time.
  3. In the third sentence use of ‘the’ before Alenxander, Napoleon, and Hitler means the qualities of these persons.

Q. Match the italicised phrases in Column A with the phrase nearest in meaning in Column B. (Hint: First look for the sentence in the text in which the phrase in Column A occurs.)

1. I was not unmindful of the fact (i) had not forgotten; was aware of the fact
(ii) was not careful about the fact
(iii) forgot or was not aware of the fact
2. when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits (i) pushed by the guards to the wall
(ii) took more than our share of beatings
(iii) felt that we could not endure the suffering any longer.
3. to reassure me and keep me going (i) make me go on walking
(ii) help me continue to live in hope in this very difficult situation
(iii) make me remain without complaining
4. the basic and honourable freedoms of…earning my keep… (i) earning enough money to live on
(ii) keeping what I earned
(iii) getting a good salary


  1. (i)had not forgotten, was aware of the fact
  2. (iii) felt that we could not endure the suffering any longer.
  3. (ii) help me continue to live in hope in this very difficult situation
  4. (i) earning enough to live on

Q. In groups, discuss the issues suggested in the box below. Then prepare a speech of about two minutes on the following topic. (First make notes for your speech in writing.) True liberty is freedom from poverty, deprivation and all forms of discrimination.

  • causes of poverty and means of overcoming it
  • discrimination based on gender, religion, class, etc.
  • constitutionally guaranteed human rights


Respected teacher and dear classfellows!

Today I stand before you to express my views on the meaning of true liberty. There are many poor people in our country who can hardly make both ends meet. There are people who are underfed or go hungry. They remain deprived of the basic needs of life. There is a lot of discrimination in our society on the basis of gender, religion class etc. The rich exploit the poor, women live at the mercy of men. There should be right to work so that the poor people do not go hungry. Every citizen should enjoy constitutionally guaranteed rights. Only then can we say that we have true liberty.

Q. Use the following phrases to complete the sentences given below.

  1. It requires such depths of oppression _______________.
  2. Courage was not the absence of fear _______________.
  3. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid _______________.
  4. If people can learn to hate _______________.
  5. I was not born with a hunger to be free _______________.


  1. to create such heights of character.
  2. but the triumph over it.
  3. but he who conquers that fear.
  4. they can be taught to love.
  5. I was born free.

Q. Given below are sentences carrying one part of the contrast. Find in the text the second part of the contrast, and complete each item. Identify the words which signal the contrast. This has been done for you in the first item.

  1. For decades the Union Buildings had been the seat of white supremacy, and now ……
  2. Only moments before, the highest generals of the South African defence force and police…saluted me and pledged their loyalty. …not so many years before they would not have saluted _____________
  3. Although that day neither group knew the lyrics of the anthem…, they would soon ____________
  4. My country is rich in the minerals and gems that lie beneath its soil, ____________
  5. The Air Show was not only a display of pinpoint precision and military force, but ____________
  6. It was this desire for the freedom of my people… that transformed ____________ into a bold one, that drove ____________ to become a criminal, that turned ____________ into a man without a home.


  1. it was the site of a rainbow gathering of different colours and nations for the installation of South Africa’s first democratic, non-racial government.
  2. but arrested me.
  3. know the words by heart.
  4. but I have always known that its greatest wealth is its people.
  5. a demonstration of the military’s loyalty to democracy.
  6. a frightened young man;… a law-abiding attorney;… a family-loving husband

Q. Do you think there is colour prejudice in our own country? Discuss this with your friend and write a paragraph of about 100 to 150 words about this. You have the option of making your paragraph a humorous one. (Read the short verse given below.)


No, there is no colour prejudice in our country as such as we find in some western countries, especially the U.S.A. the white rulers of South Africa followed the policy of apartheid for a long time. But those days are over now. Colour prejudice leads to discrimination on the basis of the colour of your skin. The colour of the skin makes a lot of difference. A white man regards himself as superior to a black-coloured man. He thinks himself to be the master and the black to be his slave. But this kind of prejudice does not exist in our country. We can find members of the same family having white and dark colours. Similarly, the people of the South India have dark skins but the people of North India have no prejudice against them on this basis. They enjoy equal rights.

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