Nelson Mandela- A Long Walk to Freedom

So the legend makes a final exit…in his physical form, that is. Because such legends always linger in the memories of the people for their path breaking ideas, deep insights into life’s mysteries and, above all for their sacrifices made for their nation, society and general good of the masses inhabiting this earth. They don’t belong to a particular piece of land or a particular society…but to the humanity. While going through his autobiography “Long walk to Freedom” one goes through many enlightening experiences.

Look at the deep humanizing feeling on page number 11 where he shares his feeling  after falling from a donkey. He says : “Like the people of the East, Africans have a highly developed sense of dignity, or what the Chinese call “face”. I had lost face among my friends. Even though it was a donkey that unsettled me, I learned that to humiliate another person is to make him suffer unnecessarily cruel fate. Even as a boy, I defeated my opponents without dishonoring them”. I wonder how many of us today can declare the same with the same conviction? In fact we enjoy dishonoring the opponent more than defeating him! We try to dishonor even if he has defeated us. Any tribute to the great soul should convince us not to dishonor human people!

Another gem that impressed me a lot was about the importance of the mother tongue. He shares an incident on page 96-97 in these words: “She looked at me incredulously, and then said ‘ what kind of a lawyer and leader will you be who cannot speak the language of your people?’ The question embarrassed and sobered me; it made me realize my parochialism and just how unprepared I was for the task of serving my people. I had unconsciously succumbed to the ethnic division fostered by the white government and I did not know to speak the language of my kith and kin. Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history appreciate their poetry or savor their songs.”

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