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BEFORE YOU READ
• ‘Apartheid’ is a political system that separates people according to their race. Can you say which of the three countries named below had such a political system until very recently? (i) North America (ii) South Africa (iii) Australia
• Have you heard of Nelson Mandela? Mandela, and his African National Congress, spent a lifetime fighting against apartheid. Mandela had to spend thirty years in prison. Finally, democratic elections were held in South Africa in 1994, and Mandela became the first black President of a new nation.
In this extract from his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela speaks about a historic occasion, ‘the inauguration’. Can you guess what the occasion might be? Check your guess with this news item (from the BBC) of 10 May 1994.
TENTH May dawned bright and clear. For the past few days I had been pleasantly besieged by dignitaries and world leaders who were coming to pay their respects before the inauguration. The inauguration would be the largest gathering ever of international leaders on South African soil. The ceremonies took place in the lovely sandstone amphitheatre formed by the Union Buildings in Pretoria. For decades this had been the seat of white supremacy, and now it was the site of a rainbow gathering of different colours and nations for the installation of South Africa’s first democratic, non-racial government. On that lovely autumn day I was accompanied by my daughter Zenani. On the podium, Mr de Klerk was first sworn in as second deputy president. Then Thabo Mbeki was sworn in as first deputy president. When it was my turn, I pledged to obey and uphold the Constitution and to devote myself to the wellbeing of the Republic and its people. To the assembled guests and the watching world, I said:
Today, all of us do, by our presence here... confer glory and hope to newborn liberty. Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.
We, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil. We thank all of our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity.
We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.
Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement.
Think about the text
1. Why did such a large number of international leaders attend the inauguration? What did it signify the triumph of?
2. What does Mandela mean when he says he is “simply the sum of all those African patriots” who had gone before him?
3. 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?
4. How did Mandela’s understanding of freedom change with age and experience?
5. How did Mandela’s ‘hunger for freedom’ change his life?
Please refer to attached file for NCERT Class 10 English Nelson Mandela
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