The book "Long Walk to Freedom" tells the story of Nelson Mandela, who was the main leader of the movement against Apartheid and fought bravely to overthrow the racial segregation regime, helping his country to win civil rights.
Thanks to its legacy of struggle for world peace and the union of peoples, Mandela was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. After that, society has already made great strides in combating racism, through its discourse on freedom and human dignity.
Were you interested in the fascinating trajectory of this humanitarian leader? So continue reading our summary and get emotional!
About the book “Long Walk to Freedom”
The book “Long Walk to Freedom” was published in 1994 and portrays Nelson Mandela's autobiography from the day he was born, to the date of his inauguration as president of South Africa in 1994. All these 76 years are described on the basis of his memoirs, reminiscent of important events with incredible wealth of details.
There are also details about his life, education and the moments in which he remained in prison. In addition, it portrays the political advance and the arduous struggle to rebuild the segregated society of the country, causing him to gain international recognition.
All the content is very light and pleasant, causing an approximation and engagement of the reader.
About the author Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela holds a law degree, was President of South Africa and leader of the movement against Apartheid.
Mandela also wrote the books “Nelson Mandela Letters of Prison”, “The Color of Freedom - The Years of Presidency”, “Conversations I had with me”, among others.
Because it’s a biography book, all the details about the author will be presented during the analysis.
To whom is this book indicated?
The content of the book “Long Walk to Freedom” is ideal for you who likes great biographies that are responsible for influencing millions of people.
In addition, the content is for you who seek example of values, endurance, integrity, resilience and determination, contemplating practical examples of all the struggles and achievements of a great South African leader.
Main ideas of the book “Long Walk to Freedom”
The most important points raised by the book are:
- The awakening for justice began in his childhood in the countryside;
- The policy began in Johannesburg;
- Apartheid came from the promotion of the National Party to power in 1948;
- The beginning of the violence by militants was based on the harshest tactics that the government implanted;
- The struggle intensified proportionately with the persecution of Mandela;
- Nelson Mandela was arrested and kept his stance during the 27 years in prison, while violence was too much across the country;
- Freedom fighters have been able to get global support, and have begun negotiations with the government;
- Mandela was released and continued his negotiating work with the government;
- Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.
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Overview: Childhood and adolescence
Nelson Mandela was born in a small village in South Africa in July 1918. His father was head of a tribe and named Mandela as "Rolihlahla", which means "troublemaker."
When his father died, his family sent him to live with Chief Jongintab. He often attended tribal meetings, getting to know the suffering of his people and witnessing the claim to white sovereignty.
Overall, Mandela received a good education for a South African, being the first of the family to go to school. The school he attended was entirely British, leaving black people and African culture alone aside.
According to the book “Long Walk to Freedom”, in 1937, after completing the Junior Certificate at Healdtown College in two years, he moved to Fort Hare College, where he began studying law, politics, English, and anthropology.
However, during the second year of school, Nelson Mandela was expelled for supporting a boycott of the students in order to gain greater representativeness of the students.
Overview: Policy start
In 1941, Mandela moved to Johannesburg and got a job as night watchman in a gold mine. And there began an internal nuisance, because his view was that mines only benefited whites and Africans were enslaved.
According to Mandela in his book “Long Walk to Freedom”, Walter Sisulu was a bridge for his desire to be fulfilled, because it was through him he got a new job in one of the largest law firms while studying law at the University of South Africa.
At that time, Mandela began attending the meetings of the African National Congress (ANC), which aims to ensure the citizenship of all Africans within South Africa, and a hope of change for the country.
Thus, he gained a taste for activism, effectively participating in the struggles for citizenship. In addition, Mandela has made strong friendships with other activists.
Overview: Introduction to Apartheid
In 1944, he joined the Youth League with support from the ANC, whose aim was get more support, since the Congress was small.
In the midst of all this, Nelson Mandela married for the first time, with the nurse Evelyn Mase.
In 1948, the National Party came to power in South Africa. Throughout the campaign, the party made announcements favoring a segregation. When he took power he was no different, he immediately took a series of measures that put the Apartheid regime into practice.
Thus began a series of contestations. According to Mandela, an interesting milestone was in 1950, regarded as the National Day of Protest, which consisted of asking workers to stay at home because of the government announced act that racial groups should remain separate.
This act was a success, and made the ANC increase (much) the number of members.
Due to civil disobedience, the police quickly imprisoned Mandela for the first time. Subsequently, he and members of the ANC were arrested again, brought to trial and found guilty of opposing the government. But the nine-month sentence was suspended for lack of evidence.
In 1952, Mandela founded his law firm with the goal of helping Africans. Whenever he appeared in court, it was challenging. This has led the government to bar his participation in court.
Nelson Mandela reported in his book “Long Walk to Freedom”, that he and Walter Sisulu believed that one of the alternatives to face the increasingly harsh laws introduced, would be through violence.
Overview: Beginning of violence and persecution
The police had already begun to restrain Mandela, and at first kept him out of politics. And in 1956, he was arrested (along with many others leading campaigns against the government) by police who claimed that Nelson Mandela had planned violent acts in defense campaigns.
As the judicial process slipped, external conflicts were at full throttle. In 1960, police killed 69 and injured more than 400 people during the Sharpeville tragedy. This led to national protests, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency.
Shortly thereafter, the judicial process improved, and the accused were acquitted because the evidence was insufficient.
As a result, the debate on violence within the ANC had been long overdue. In a secret meeting with other ANC members, Mandela pointed out that violence would become a norm. So he formed a military organization to fight the government, named as MK.
That way, they began to prepare. He moved to the Liliesleaf farm, where he served as a hideout and training camp. The group's idea was to sabotage government buildings, power plants and similar targets, announcing the arrival of the MK and taking the government by surprise.
Overview: Mandela's prison
At this point, Mandela said the government was crazy to get him. And this happened on August 5, 1962, when he was returning to the Liliesleaf farm after a secret MK meeting.
Mandela tried to defend himself, but the judge sentenced him to 5 years in prison without parole, and was sent to Robben Island.
After many witnesses and government investigations, Nelson Mandela was found guilty on all counts, and all resulted in death penalty. But the ONU instructed the amnesty for all those who opposed Apartheid, making his final sentence resulting in life imprisonment on Robben Island.
Life on the Island was very somber, had rigid systems of visitation and many things were censored, such as the news about politics, books and magazines.
Meanwhile, the external situation only worsened, resulting in an increase in the number of protests and militants across Africa.
In 1976, police massacred students during demonstrations in Soweto (city attached to Johannesburg, which was created as a "neighborhood for blacks"). This massacre and Apartheid reverberated around the world, and caused great fury in the global and national media.
Overview: Exalted feelings and early negotiations
In the early 80's, the feelings became more and more heated and everything was already out of control. It significantly increased the number of black people to the struggle for freedom, new groups of militants and the popularity of the ANC.
At that time, everything was already in conflict and violence on all sides. With that, Nelson Mandela saw the need to negotiate with the government, as the ANC had already stated that it would not negotiate with a racist government.
The first step to the negotiation came in 1986, when Mandela requested a meeting with the Defense Minister and, to his surprise, it was accepted. After that, he was taken to the minister's house.
But things started to happen even in 1988, when the situation was chaotic, and the government saw that it had no way but to resort to the negotiations with Mandela.
This has led to a series of secret meetings between Mandela and the government officials' committee. In 1989, according to the book “Long Walk to Freedom”, the meeting between the new president and Mandela took place, in order to hear what Mandela had to say to promote peace.
Overview: The beginning of hope
Months after the meeting, it was decreed that Nelson Mandela would be released, as well as all arrested for non-violent activities, in order to promote peace.
After 27 years in prison, Mandela was able to generate the impetus so that black freedom suddenly change with great speed. But there were still many bridges to cross to end the violence and begin reconciliation.
According to Mandela in his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom”, the nationalists issued an emergency decree, and the ANC negotiated with the government to end the armed struggle against the apartheid government. Subsequently, Mandela was elected as the president of the ANC.
The next steps were taken by the formal negotiations with the government, which allowed the ANC to gain significant importance and representation in the cabinet. Do you know the consequence of this? ANC and National Party working side by side.
Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with Klerk, who was president of South Africa at that time
On 27 April 1994, the ANC won 62.6% of the votes in the presidential election and Mandela took over as president until 1999.
The work continued to be done, taking courageous steps and great breaks of barriers. According to Mandela, the initial goal has not yet been achieved, but the desire to be free and not to be oppressed has been achieved.
What do other authors say about it?
According to the author John Maxwell, as he says in his book “Developing The Leader Within You 2.0”, Mandela is cited as an example and reference to a personality of influence based on respect, and his followers are given the values he has.
John Maxwell also mentions Mandela in the book “The 21 Irrefutable Leadership Laws”, in the 2nd law on influence. The author says that leaders are able to influence people around them, by their causes and by their goals.
Finally, a biography with the trajectory very similar to Nelson Mandela’s, is Gandhi’s history, reported in the book “An Autobiography: My Life and My Experiences with the Truth”. Both had similar traits such as admirable leadership, the struggle for rights, and commitment.
In addition, both faced hateful enemies, but Gandhi diverged from Mandela for supporting nonviolence.
Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?
Throughout Mandela's biography, he indirectly presents us with various ways of seeing the obstacles and how to exert a effective leadership.
Based on his speeches and his actions throughout life, Mandela demonstrates that we must keep our adversaries close to us, and that courage is much more than just lack of fear.
Gathering the two lessons of Nelson Mandela teaches us in “Long Walk to Freedom” as a leader, we have:
- You have to give autonomy at the right time. During meetings, Mandela was always the last to speak. He summed up everyone's opinion and matched their ideas, directing everyone to a desired goal.
- The purpose need not only be in you, it is necessary to think how actions affect others in all fields.
Finally, Mandela leaves a legacy that he was a man of gestures and proves to you that characteristics such as hope, commitment and determination are essential to win, even in an uneven world and when you are in prison.
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