Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
1. Where did the ceremonies take place? Can you name any public buildings in India that are made of sandstone?
Answer: The ceremonies took place in the campus of the Union Building of Pretoria. Rashtrapati Bhavan, and Red Fort are some of the buildings made from sandstone.
2. Can you say how 10 May is an ‘autumn day’ in South Africa?
Answer: As South Africa is in the southern hemisphere so it is autumn season there.
3. At the beginning of his speech, Mandela mentions “an extraordinary human disaster”. What does he mean by this? What is the “glorious … human achievement” he speaks of at the end?
Answer: The extraordinary human disaster was the practice of apartheid in South Africa. During apartheid regime there was racial segregation based on skin colour of people. Black people did not have proper constitutional rights.
The end of apartheid regime and the beginning of a more tolerant society was the glorious human achievement.
4. What does Mandela thank the international leaders for?
Answer: During apartheid era many country had severed diplomatic ties with South Africa. On that day most of the countries dignitaries were present to attend the swearing in ceremony. This was a gesture of international recognition to a newly born free nation. Nelson Mandela was thanking them for this recognition.
5. What ideals does he set out for the future of South Africa?
Answer: Mandela set out the ideals of poverty alleviation, removal of suffering of people. He also set the ideal for a society where there would be no discrimination based on gender or racial origins.
6. What do the military generals do? How has their attitude changed, and why?
Answer: Military generals salute Nelson Mandela, which is having tis own importance as during apartheid era they would have arrested Mandela. The change in their attitude was because of struggle and sacrifices put in by many heroes of South Africa. This struggle not only ensured the freedom of South Africa but also brought a change of mindsets for many. As Nelson Mandela believed that like hate love can also be taught and human being is naturally oriented towards love rather than hate.
7. Why were two national anthems sung?
Answer: The rendition of national anthem from old republic as well as new republic was sign of the pledge of those who were laying the foundation of a new nation. As it was pledge to build a society devoid of any type of discrimination so the old republic song was also sung to show solidarity with white people and to show that it will be a truly multicultural society.
8. How does Mandela describe the systems of government in his country (i) in the first decade, and (ii) in the final decade, of the twentieth century?
Answer: In the first decade after the Anglo-Boer war it was the birth of an oppressive regime which created a system to deprive the black people of every basic human rights. In the final decade, of the twentieth century the system developed a strong pattern of even ignoring the sacrifices made by so many great leaders of South Africa. It was like as if black never existed for the apartheid regime.
9. What does courage mean to Mandela?
Answer: For Mandela courage does not mean the absence of fear but a victory over fear. According to him brave men need not be fearless but should be able to conquer fear.
10. Which does he think is natural, to love or to hate?
Answer: Mandela thinks for human beings it natural to love rather than to hate.
11. Why did such a large number of international leaders attend the inauguration? What did it signify the triumph of?
Answer: The presence of large number of international leaders was a gesture of solidarity from international community to the idea of the end of apartheid. It signified the triumph of good over evil, the triumph of the idea of a tolerant society without any discrimination.
12. What does Mandela mean when he says he is “simply the sum of all those African patriots” who had gone before him?
Answer: As Mandela was carrying forward the baton of the freedom struggle, he was also carrying the legacy of leaders of yesteryears. In a baton race the new runner simply carries forward the work done by his predecessors. This is what Nelson Mandela was doing. That is what he was trying to convey by making this statement.
13. Would you agree that the “depths of oppression” create “heights of character”? How does Mandela illustrate this? Can you add your own examples to this argument?
Answer: I agree with the statement that depths of oppression create heights of character. Nelson Mandela illustrates this by giving examples of great heroes of South Africa who sacrificed their lives in the long freedom struggle.
India is full of such examples. During our freedom struggle there was a galaxy of leaders of great characters. Probably the oppression of British rule created so many men of such characters. If we compare this with the quality of political leaders India is having today, then Nelson Mandela seems to be absolutely right.
14. How did Mandela’s understanding of freedom change with age and experience?
Answer: During young age freedom for Mandela meant a freedom on a personal level. The freedom to raise a family, and the freedom to earn a livelihood. After gaining experience the freedom meant a lot more to Nelson Mandela. It was a freedom for everybody. It was a freedom from fear and prejudice. Age and experience made his perspective more wide.
15. How did Mandela’s ‘hunger for freedom’ change his life?
Answer: Slowly Nelson Mandela’s hunger for freedom turned from that on a personal level to a broader mass level. This changed the fearful man to a fearless rebel. He sacrificed the comforts of a settled family life to fight for a greater cause.
16. What “twin obligations” does Mandela mention?
Answer: In South Africa or in any nation there are two obligations for a person. One is at the personal level towards his family. Another obligation is towards the society. Apart from striving for personal goals a person should also work hard to contribute something to the society.
17. What did being free mean to Mandela as a boy, and as a student? How does he contrast these “transitory freedoms” with “the basic and honourable freedoms”?
Answer: Like any other kid for Mandela also the freedom meant a freedom to make merry and enjoy the blissful life. Once anybody becomes an adult then antics of childhood looks like transitory because most of the childish activity is wasteful from an adult’s perspective.
Once you are adult then someday you have to earn a livelihood to bring the bacon home, then only you get an honourable existence in the family and in the society.
18. Does Mandela think the oppressor is free? Why/Why not?
Answer: Mandela does not think that oppressor is free. Because, the oppressor is, the prisoner of hatred and prejudice.
A Tiger in the Zoo
He stalks in his vivid stripes
The few steps of his cage,
On pads of velvet quiet,
In his quiet rage.
He should be lurking in shadow,
Sliding through long grass
Near the water hole
Where plump deer pass.
He should be snarling around houses
At the jungle’s edge,
Baring his white fangs, his claws,
Terrorising the village!
But he’s locked in a concrete cell,
His strength behind bars,
Stalking the length of his cage,
He hears the last voice at night,
The patrolling cars,
And stares with his brilliant eyes
At the brilliant stars.
--- LESLIE NORRIS
Summary: This poem tries to depict the mental condition of a caged tiger. The tiger is taking to and fro steps in the cage as if trying to while away the time. The tiger should have been in its natural habitat sliding through the long grass. It would have been trying to catch a live deer. But in the cage the tiger is so fed up that it even ignores the visitor. The last line heightens the contrast between freedom and captivity. Brilliant stars outside the cage seem to be more brilliant than those brilliant eyes behind the cage.
It seems that the tiger also understands the freedom that the star might be enjoying.