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Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Paperback – 12 Oct 1995
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The famously taciturn South African president reveals much of himself in Long Walk to Freedom. A good deal of this autobiography was written secretly while Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by South Africa's apartheid regime. Among the book's interesting revelations is Mandela's ambivalence toward his lifetime of devotion to public works. It cost him two marriages and kept him distant from a family life he might otherwise have cherished. Long Walk to Freedom also discloses a strong and generous spirit that refused to be broken under the most trying circumstances--a spirit in which just about everybody can find something to admire. --Amazon.com
A tale of anger and sorrow, love and joy, grace and elegance (DAILY NEWS)
Indispensable ... [a] unique life-story (Anthony Sampson)
A truly stunning account of his extraordinary life ... A vivid testimony to an unusual mixture of courage, persistence, tolerance, and forgiveness (Sir David Steel)
One of the most life- affirming books you'll read (GQ)
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By contrast,starting with his childhood Mandela casually relates not only his own ancestry and kinship, but that of pretty well most others from his boyhood, recounting a history of tribal elders, chiefs and advisers, going back 500 years or more. History becoming different where there is a strong connection to land, a strong identity coming from place, and also an oral, rather than a written tradition.
Like pretty well everyone, I suppose, I can for sure understand the head and heart journey into politicisation - as Mandela said, how could you not be politicised as a black South African under apartheid as the system made you aware of itself at every turn. But what I can't understand, on a deep level, is that extraordinary, inspirational journey of wisdom, soul, compassion, intelligence, understanding which that man made, to turn what was designed to break and humiliate a person, into something so deep and transcending. There are a good few who produce philosophies, theories or ideologies which influence and inspire, but remarkably few whose very beings inspire.
I was struck, again and again by the less common combination of highly developed empathy coupled with conviction, subtlety and leadership.
Sadly, often it seems that those who lead and make forceful decisions rather appear to lack the virtues of tenderness and sensitivity to suffering. Five Year Plans, Great Leaps Forward and the like often demand others to make the supreme sacrifice, and the Idealogue hardens his or her heart by the belief of ends justifying means.
Mandela's conviction meant he held a strong purpose, but he had the ability to change and be subtle, rather than fixed and immovable. He also respected the democracy of his party, rather than imposing his will through force on them
What comes up, again and again in this account, is the sense of compassion. Hatred of oppression, but an extraordinary ability to hold fast to a sense of what was right, whilst searching for the humanity of `other'
Mandelas on a world stage are rare, but oh how great is our need for them - which of course is why the world responded so to him
As a book - I found this clear, fascinating, absorbing. There is a careful laying out of the political struggle, of the niceties and minutiae of political and philosophical debate, about the different viewpoints espoused in South African political parties - both those in power and the many who were banned. Often (due I'm afraid to a certain intellectual laziness) I don't do well with dry and dusty clause and subclause politics, which seem purely cerebral - Mandela talks through all this with clarity and uses language with potency and vitality. Always, at the heart here is a complex, rounded, fully human being, The book, like the life, has authenticity.
Haile Selassie said in his speech at the UN on 6th October 1963: ''That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil''
Long LIVE Madiba, LONG LIVE!
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