In the winter of 1964, Nelson Mandela arrived on Robben Island, off the coast from Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. It was here in a prison that Mandela would spend eighteen of his twenty-seven years of prison sentence before he would be freed just prior to the fall of apartheid in South Africa.
The racist regime in South Africa cramped Nelson Mandela to a small cell. The ground was his bed. He had a bucket for a toilet and he was forced to do harsh labor in a quarry.
Contact with friends, family, and well-wishers was limited: Mandela was allowed one visitor a year for thirty minutes. He could write and receive one letter every six months.
Despite the trying times, Robben Island became the crucible which transformed him. Out of his intellect, charm, and decorous disobedience, Mandela in due course bent the most atrocious of prison officials to his will, took up to command his jailed comrades and developed into the master of his prison.
Eventually in the late 1980s, the South African President FW de Klerk and the African National Congress (ANC) initiated large-scale political reforms by relaxing apartheid laws and revoking the ban on black rights party. Nelson Mandela was freed on 11-Feb-1990. He emerged from the jail as a mature leader who would fight and win the great political battles that would create a new democratic South Africa.
Inspiring Quotations from Nelson Mandela from his Autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”
Here are seven inspiring quotations from ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Nelson Mandela‘s autobiography, which was recently made into a biopic with an inspiring performance from British actor, producer, and musician Idris Elba.
- “In my country we go to prison first and then become President.”
- “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones.”
- “Prison itself is a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is above all a test of one’s commitment.”
- “I always knew that someday I would once again feel the grass under my feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man.”
- “It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”
- “When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that that is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
- “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
- ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Nelson Mandela‘s autobiography.
- ‘Mandela: The Authorized Portrait’ by Mac Maharaj and Ahmad Kathrada (Editors)
- ‘Mandela’s Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage’ by Richard Stengel
- ‘Conversations with Myself’ by Nelson Mandela
- ‘Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth’ by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
- ‘The Last Trek-A New Beginning: The Autobiography’ by F. W. De Klerk