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A fascinating insight
on 21 November 2010
I have recently returned from a holiday touring South Africa, during which I read both volumes of A Long Walk to Freedom. The two books provided a fascinating insight into the political background of a country which is still struggling to build a future that fully integrates all its people, and does not fall into the pitfalls tragically enacted in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Nelson Mandela tells his story from his early life in a traditional tribal culture to his involvement in the Freedom Movement and the growth of the ANC, the conflicts among similar organisations also striving for justice but with different emphases, and the apparent inability of the white authorities to understand or even listen to any opinion but their own and their increasingly harsh methods of imposing their power. He tells of his reluctant acceptance of the need for limited use of violent means to draw world attention to the situation in the country he loves after many years of belief in non-violence, while understating his own dedication and commitment to the cause which robbed him of his family life for decades. He does not reveal much about his personal relationships with his family except to make clear his pride and love for his wife Winnie and his children. Although there are signs of improvement in the conditions of many black South Africans, one cannot help being aware of a large black underclass and the fear of crime apparent among the white population. It is so sad that by the time Mandela was released from captivity he did not have enough time left in power to realise his dream of a truly united South Africa.