Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – Summary

The chapter is an extract from Mandela’s autobiography ‘Long Walk to Freedom‘. It provides us a glimpse of the early life of Nelson Mandela, his education, thirty years in prison, and the pains he had suffered at a young age. It also recounts his fight for the freedom of his own people who were tortured by the whites.


The oath-taking ceremony of Nelson Mandela, the first black President of South Africa, and his colleagues took place on 10th May. It was a historic occasion. Dignitaries and representatives of 140 countries came to attend it. The ceremony took place in the lovely sandstone amphitheater, formed by the Union Buildings in Pretoria. First, Mr. De Klerk the 2nd Deputy President, then Thabo Mbeki the 1st Deputy President was sworn in. Nelson Mandela took oath as the President. He pledged to obey and uphold the constitution and devote himself to the well-being of the republic and its people.

Then, President Mandela addressed the guests. He welcomed and thanked them for having come to take possession with the people of his country for a common victory of justice, peace, and human dignity.

After getting political freedom, his government pledged to liberate people from the bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender, and other discriminations. He wished the sun of freedom to shine on his country forever.

After the ceremony, the display of military force was carried out. Finally, the jets left off the smoke trails of different colors, e.g., black, red, green, blue, and golden color of the new South African flag. In the end, two National Anthems were sung by the whites and the blacks.

Later on that day, Mandela reformed history. In the first decade of the 20th Century, a few years after Anglo-Boer War before his birth, the white-skinned patched up their differences and erected a system of racial domination against the dark-skinned people of South Africa. It was the birth of Apartheid, the harshest in human creation. Now, in the last decade of the 20th century, the system has been overturned forever recognizing the rights of all people irrespective of the color of their skin or religion.

He remembered the suffering and courage of thousands of patriots who participated in the long struggles but were not there to witness the fruit of their achievement.

It was a reign of oppression and cruelty that created a deep wound in African people. But deep oppression produced the Oliver Tambos, the Walter Sisulus, the Yusuf Dadoos. The Chief Luthulis, the Bram Fischers, the Robert Sobukwes, etc.—men of unparallel courage, wisdom and generosity. Mandela thinks South Africa’s real wealth is her people who are finer, truer than the purest diamonds.

His comrades taught him what courage meant.

It is not the absence of fear but victory over it. No one is born to hate another on the basis of color of skin or religion. If they can learn to hate, then why not learn to love which comes naturally. He believes in the goodness of man that never dies.

Every man has twin obligations, one towards his family and the other towards his people and his country. In the reign of Apartheid, if one tried to fulfill his duty towards his people, he was ripped off his family and home.

Mandela said he was born free. He had the freedom to run in the fields, swim in the stream, and ride on a bull. Boyhood freedom was an illusion. As a student, he wanted transitory freedom – freedom to stay out at night, to read books of his choice. As a young man, he yearned for basic honorable freedoms of achieving his potential, of earning, of marrying, and having a family. When he became a young man and joined the African National Congress Party, he first wanted freedom only for himself and then for all his people and his country. Both need to be liberated. The oppressor is a prisoner of hatred, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness. The oppressor and the oppressed, both are robbed of their humanity.

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