Saturday, March 4, 2023

Class X - English - First Flight - Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Summary, Explanation and Q&A Solved

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Summary

Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom" is an excerpt from his autobiography, which chronicles the black people's struggle for freedom in South Africa. After over 300 years of white rule, Mandela took the oath as South Africa's first black president on May 10th, 1994. His party had won 252 out of 400 seats in the country's first democratic elections.

The inauguration ceremony, held in Pretoria's Union Buildings amphitheatre, was attended by dignitaries and political figures from various countries. In his speech, Mandela addressed all dignitaries respectfully and promised his fellow countrymen that there would never again be suppression by one group over another. He established democracy in the country as the first black president and vowed that there would be no discrimination based on caste, colour, creed, or race. He promised that the government would treat all people with respect and equality.

The day of the inauguration was significant for Mandela, as South African people sang two national anthems: "Nkosi Sikelel-iAfrika" by the whites and "Die Stem," the old anthem of the Republic, by the blacks. These events reminded Mandela of how white people had exploited black-skinned people. He deeply felt the pain of his race and believed that such suppression and racial domination gave rise to one of the harshest and most inhumane societies in the world. He believed that no person is born to hate another based on skin colour, background, or religion. People must learn to hate, but they can also be taught to love, as love comes more naturally to humans than hate. He also mentioned that a person becomes brave not because they do not feel afraid, but because they know how to conquer their fears.

Mandela stated that every man has two major obligations in life. The first is towards his family, i.e., parents, spouse, and children, and the second is towards his motherland, countrymen, and community. Fulfilling these obligations was challenging for a black man in South Africa before the democratic wave took over the nation. As an adult, Mandela realized that freedom was an illusion and temporary for black-skinned people in his country. They were treated as slaves of exploitation and unfairly by white-skinned people.

For Mandela, freedom was indivisible for all. But black people were bound in chains of oppression and tyranny. He knew that oppressors must be liberated like the oppressed because a person who takes away another's freedom is also a prisoner of similar oppression. Thus, the oppressor is not free and feels shackled in the chains of oppression themselves.

The theme of the Lesson ‘Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom’

The English textbook "First Flight" for Class 10 features a chapter titled "Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," which focuses on the fight for independence, equality, and justice. This chapter is an excerpt from the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, a political figure and anti-apartheid revolutionary from South Africa.

The chapter details Mandela's early years and his journey to becoming an active member of the African National Congress (ANC), an organization that opposed South Africa's apartheid system. It also highlights his 27-year imprisonment for his political activities, his eventual release, and his efforts towards transforming the nation into a multiracial democracy.

Mandela's unwavering commitment to the cause of freedom, equality, and justice is evident throughout the chapter. Despite the personal sacrifices he had to make, he remained devoted to creating a more equitable society for all in South Africa. He also emphasized the importance of nonviolence and peaceful methods in achieving these goals.

Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom Question Answers  

1. Where did the ceremonies take place? Can you name any public buildings in India that are made of sandstone?


An amphitheatre created by the Union Buildings in Pretoria hosted the ceremonies. In India, there are numerous public buildings constructed with sandstone, including Rashtrapati Bhavan, Red Fort, and the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi.

2. Can you say how 10 May is an ‘autumn day’ in South Africa?


In South Africa, the seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere due to its location in the southern hemisphere. Therefore, May falls during the autumn season in South Africa, which is characterized by mild temperatures, cooler evenings, and the changing colors of leaves on trees. Hence, May 10th is an "autumn day" in South Africa.

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?


Mandela uses the term "an extraordinary human disaster" to describe the apartheid system that existed in South Africa under the previous leadership. The people of color were subjected to unfair treatment, which he believes no human being should endure. Mandela fought against these unjust practices and eventually won the democratic elections, becoming the first black President of South Africa. He regards this victory as a "glorious human achievement".

4. What does Mandela thank the international leaders for?


The author expressed gratitude towards the international leaders for standing alongside them and providing support in achieving their triumph for freedom, justice, and human dignity. Previously, several nations had severed their connections with South Africa due to its apartheid policies.

5. What ideals does he set out for the future of South Africa?


Upon assuming office as the newly elected President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela aimed to eradicate all unjust practices in the country. He outlined a vision for a nation that was free from poverty, discrimination, and injustice.

6. What do the military generals do? How has their attitude changed, and why?


Nelson Mandela was saluted by the military generals, who pledged their allegiance to the newly established democratic government of South Africa. Their mindset had shifted since the time of white supremacy, during which they would have detained Mandela due to his status as a perceived criminal. However, with the dismantling of apartheid and the introduction of democratic governance, their attitude has evolved as well.

7. Why were two national anthems sung?


Both the Black and White national anthems were sung to symbolize equality and respect for the entire community, regardless of skin color.

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?


(i) During the early 1900s, white supremacy established a system of racial oppression that caused immense suffering for people with dark skin. Mandela described it as one of the most cruel and inhumane societies in the world.

(ii) During the last ten years of the twentieth century, the apartheid system was transformed into one that acknowledges the equality of all human beings, regardless of their race, color, or gender.

9. What does courage mean to Mandela?


Mandela believed that "courage" is not the lack of fear, but rather the triumph over it. A person who is truly brave is someone who has conquered their fears and is willing to confront challenges despite them.

10. Which does he think is natural, to love or to hate?


According to him, love is a more innate emotion for humans compared to hate. No individual is born with a predisposition for hatred towards others.

​​11. What “twin obligations” does Mandela mention?


Mandela believed that individuals have a dual responsibility: one towards their own family and the other towards their community or society.

12. 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”?


Mandela's concept of freedom changed as he grew up from a young boy and a student. Initially, he believed that freedom meant having the ability to stay out late at night, read any books he wished, and go wherever he pleased. However, as he matured, he came to realize that these were merely "temporary freedoms" and that their "essential and noble freedoms" had been stripped away. There was no opportunity for a tranquil marriage, family, or life. Individuals with dark skin were refused their basic human rights, making freedom appear like a "delusion" for them.

13. Does Mandela think the oppressor is free? Why/Why not?


Mandela believes that the oppressor and oppressed are both prisoners. The oppressor, by taking away the freedom of the oppressed, also loses his own humanity. Therefore, Mandela argues that the oppressor is not truly free.

14. Why did such a large number of international leaders attend the inauguration? What did it signify the triumph of?


During the inauguration ceremony, numerous world leaders gathered to commemorate the end of the apartheid system and demonstrate their solidarity with South Africa. The occasion marked the victory of justice over bigotry, bravery over apprehension, and morality over immorality.

15. What does Mandela mean when he says he is “simply the sum of all those African patriots” who had gone before him?


Mandela expressed his gratitude towards the previous generations who had struggled for justice and drew inspiration from their bravery. This is what gave him the courage to fearlessly fight for what is right. Therefore, he humbly regarded himself as the "collective sum" of all the African patriots who had come before him.

16. 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?


I agree with the statement that "oppression creates great character." Mandela gave an example of how those who were once oppressed and subjected to brutality can become great freedom fighters with extraordinary courage and strength. This unintended effect is evident in many countries, including India, where people suffered under British rule for almost 200 years. This oppression gave rise to inspiring figures like Bhagat Singh and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, who fought tirelessly for India's freedom.

17. How did Mandela’s understanding of freedom change with age and experience?


When Mandela was a young boy and a student, he believed that freedom meant having the ability to stay out late at night, read any book he wanted, and go anywhere he desired. However, as he grew into a man, he realized that these were only temporary freedoms and that the essential and respectable freedoms had been stripped away. There was no freedom to have a peaceful marriage, a family, or even a peaceful life. The basic human rights of dark-skinned people were denied, making freedom for them nothing but a false hope or an "illusion".

18. How did Mandela’s ‘hunger for freedom’ change his life?


Mandela's life underwent a significant transformation when he recognized his desire for freedom. He evolved from a family-oriented person to a leader of his people, and from a timid youth to a courageous one. His entire existence revolved around advocating for the essential rights of his community, and he became more altruistic and righteous than ever before.


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