Friday, February 6, 2015

Long Walk to Freedom Kindle Notes

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Last annotated on December 27, 2013

Rolihlahla literally means “pulling the branch of a tree,” but its colloquial meaning more accurately would be “

am often addressed as Madiba, my clan name, a term of respect. Ngubengcuka,

“Andizi, ndisaqula” (I will not come, I am still girding for battle).

part of the year working on remote farms or in the mines along the Reef, the great ridge of gold-bearing rock and shale that forms the southern boundary of Johannesburg.

Note: Impact of a culture of absentee fathers Edit
In African culture, the sons and daughters of one’s aunts or uncles are considered brothers and sisters, not cousins. We do not make the same distinctions among relations practiced by whites. We have no half brothers or half sisters. My mother’s sister is my mother; my uncle’s son is my brother; my brother’s child is my son, my daughter.

learned that to humiliate another person is to make him suffer an unnecessarily cruel fate. Even as a boy, I defeated my opponents without dishonoring them.

Like all Xhosa children, I acquired knowledge mainly through observation. We were meant to learn through imitation and emulation, not through questions.

That day, Miss Mdingane told me that my new name was Nelson. Why she bestowed this particular name upon me I have no idea. Perhaps it had something to do with the great British sea captain Lord Nelson, but that would be only a guess.

In that moment of beholding Jongintaba and his court I felt like a sapling pulled root and branch from the earth and flung into the center of a stream whose strong current I could not resist.

Jongintaba was stern, but I never doubted his love. They called me by the pet name of Tatomkhulu, which means “Grandpa,” because they said when I was very serious, I looked like an old man.

meetings would continue until some kind of consensus was reached. They ended in unanimity or not at all. Unanimity, however, might be an agreement to disagree, to wait for a more propitious time to propose a solution. Democracy meant all men were to be heard, and a decision was taken together as a people. Majority rule was a foreign notion. A minority was not to be crushed by a majority.

He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.

Dalibunga, meaning “Founder of the Bunga,” the traditional ruling body of the Transkei. To Xhosa traditionalists, this name is more acceptable than either of my two previous given names, Rolihlahla or Nelson, and I was proud to hear my new name pronounced: Dalibunga.

She was an extraordinarily clever and gifted person, whose potential was limited because of her family’s meager resources. This was an all too typical South African story. It was not lack of ability that limited my people, but lack of opportunity.

Basutoland, as Lesotho was then known,

But seeing Frank and his wife began to undermine my parochialism and loosen the hold of the tribalism that still imprisoned me.

we were informed that the great Xhosa poet Krune Mqhayi was going to visit the school. Mqhayi was actually an imbongi, a praise-singer, a kind of oral historian who

Fort Hare, like Clarkebury and Healdtown, was a missionary college. We were exhorted to obey God, respect the political authorities, and be grateful for the educational opportunities afforded to us by the church and the government. These schools have often been criticized for being colonialist in their attitudes and practices. Yet, even with such attitudes, I believe their benefits outweighed their disadvantages.

but life has a way of forcing decisions on those who vacillate. 

Michael Harmel, who I was told had a master’s degree in English from Rhodes University.

Many people will appear to befriend you when you are wealthy, but precious few will do the same when you are poor. If wealth is a magnet, poverty is a kind of repellent. Yet, poverty often brings out the true generosity in others.

In love, unlike politics, caution is not usually a virtue.

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. I again realized that we were not different people with separate languages; we were one people, with different tongues.

“Ndiwelimilambo enamagama” (I have crossed famous rivers)

I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments, produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, From henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.

We cited the crippling, anti-African legislation of the past forty years, beginning with the 1913 Land Act, which ultimately deprived blacks of 87 percent of the territory in the land of their birth; the Urban Areas Act of 1923, which created teeming African slums, politely called “native locations,” in order to supply cheap labor to white industry; the Color Bar Act of 1926, which banned Africans from practicing skilled trades; the Native Administration Act of 1927, which made the British Crown, rather than the paramount chiefs, the supreme chief over all African areas; and finally, in 1936, the Representation of Natives Act, which removed Africans from the Common Voters’ Roll in the Cape, thereby

The Separate Representation of Voters Act eventually robbed the Coloureds of their representation in Parliament. The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act was introduced in 1949 and was followed in rapid succession by the Immorality Act, making sexual relations between white and nonwhite illegal.

The Population Registration Act

few weeks later, the government introduced the notorious Suppression of Communism Act

June 26 has since become a landmark day in the freedom struggle and within the liberation movement it is observed as Freedom Day. It was the first time I had taken

I was far more certain in those days of what I was against than what I was for.

Apart from the Suppression of Communism Act, two laws passed in 1950 formed the cornerstones of apartheid: the Population Registration Act and the Group Areas Act.

The Separate Representation of Voters Act aimed to transfer Coloureds to a separate voters’ roll in the Cape, thereby diluting the franchise rights that they had enjoyed for more than a century. The Bantu Authorities Act abolished the Natives Representative Council, the one indirect forum of national representation for Africans, and replaced it with a hierarchical system of tribal chiefs appointed by the government.

“Mayibuye Afrika!” (Let Africa come back!)

Over the next five months, 8,500 people took part in the campaign. Doctors, factory workers, lawyers, teachers, students, ministers, defied and went to jail. They sang, “Hey, Malan! Open the jail doors. We want to enter.

The minister of justice announced that he would soon pass legislation to deal with our defiance, a threat he implemented during the 1953 parliamentary session with the passage of the Public Safety Act, which empowered the government to declare martial law and to detain people without trial, and the Criminal Laws Amendment Act, which authorized corporal punishment for defiers.

From the Defiance Campaign onward, going to prison became a badge of honor among Africans.

Banning not only confines one physically, it imprisons one’s spirit. It induces a kind of psychological claustrophobia that makes one yearn not only for freedom of movement but spiritual escape.

They instructed me to draw up a plan that would enable the organization to operate from underground. This strategy came to be known as the Mandela-Plan, or simply, M-Plan.

“Mandela and Tambo” read the brass plate on our office door in Chancellor House, a small building just across the street from the marble statues of Justice

In the view of the white authorities those days, sloping shoulders were one stereotype of the Coloured physique.

Despite the poverty, Sophiatown had a special character; for Africans, it was the Left Bank in Paris, Greenwich Village in New York, the home of writers, artists, doctors, and lawyers. It was both bohemian and conventional, lively and sedate. 

I drove, I imagined the hiding places of General De Wet’s army and wondered whether they would someday shelter African rebels.

ran the antiremoval campaign on the slogan “Over Our Dead Bodies,” a motto often shòuted from the platforms and echoed by the audience.

A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle, and the oppressed is often left no recourse but to use methods that mirror those of the oppressor. At a certain point, one can only fight fire with fire.

In 1953, the Nationalist-dominated Parliament passed the Bantu Education Act, which sought to put apartheid’s stamp on African education.

The campaign should be judged on two levels: whether the immediate objective was achieved, and whether it politicized more people and drew them into the struggle.

the Freedom Charter:

We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:— That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people; That our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality; That our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities; That only a democratic state, based on the will of the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;

It is said that 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—and South Africa treated its imprisoned African citizens like animals.

In that moment, something stirred deep inside all of us, something strong and intimate, that bound us to one another. In that moment we felt the hand of the great past that made us what we were and the power of the great cause that linked us all together.

She was pregnant again and later that year, gave birth to Makaziwe, named after the daughter we had lost six years before. In our culture, to give a new child the name of a deceased child is considered a way of honoring the earlier child’s memory and retaining a mystical attachment to the child who left too soon.

The women were courageous, persistent, enthusiastic, indefatigable, and their protest against passes set a standard for antigovernment protest that was never equaled. As Chief Luthuli said, “When the women begin to take an active part in the struggle, no power on earth can stop us from achieving freedom in our lifetime.

Within minutes, they were surrounded by dozens of armed police, who arrested all of them, packed them into vans, and drove them to Marshall Square police station. The women were cheerful throughout; as they were being driven away, some called out to reporters, “Tell our madams we won’t be at work tomorrow!

IN 1959, Parliament passed the Promotion of Bantu Self Government Act, which created eight separate ethnic bantustans.

the deceptively named Extension of University Education Act, another leg of grand apartheid, which barred nonwhites from racially “open” universities. In introducing the Bantu Self Government Act, De Wet Nel, the minister of Bantu Administration and Development, said that the welfare of every individual and population group could best be developed within its own national community. Africans,

Natalians thought of themselves as white Zulus.

Wilton Mkwayi, one of the accused and a longtime union leader and ANC man,

On April 8, both the ANC and the PAC were declared illegal organizations, under the Suppression of Communism Act.

After one has been in prison, it is the small things that one appreciates: being able to take a walk whenever one wants, going into a shop and buying a newspaper, speaking or choosing to remain silent. The simple act of being able to control one’s person.

We named our new daughter Zindziswa, after the daughter of the poet laureate of the Xhosa people, Samuel Mqhayi, who had inspired me so many years before at Healdtown. The poet returned home after a very long trip to find that his wife had given birth to a daughter. He had not known that she was pregnant and assumed that the child had been fathered by another man. In our culture, when a woman gives birth, the husband does not enter the house where she is confined for ten days. In this case, the poet was too enraged to observe this custom, and he stormed into the house with an assegai, ready to stab both mother and daughter. But when he looked at the baby girl and saw that she was the image of himself, he stepped back, and said, “u zindzile,” which means, “You are well established.” He named her Zindziswa, the feminine version of what he had said.

In some ways, this is not much of an adaptation for a black man in South Africa. Under apartheid, a black man lived a shadowy life between legality and illegality, between openness and concealment. To be a black man in South Africa meant not to trust anything, which was not unlike living underground for one’s entire life.

Roadblocks were instituted all over the country, but the police repeatedly came up empty-handed. I was dubbed the Black Pimpernel, a somewhat derogatory adaptation of Baroness Orczy’s fictional character the Scarlet Pimpernel, who daringly evaded capture during the French Revolution.

I used an old African expression: Sebatana ha se bokwe ka diatla (The attacks of the wild beast cannot be averted with only bare hands).

I, WHO HAD NEVER been a soldier, who had never fought in battle, who had never fired a gun at an enemy, had been given the task of starting an army. It would be a daunting task for a veteran general much less a military novice. The name of this new organization was Umkhonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation)—or MK for short. The symbol of the spear was chosen because with this simple weapon Africans had resisted the incursions of whites for centuries.

and hardship than sitting in gaol. I have had to separate myself from my dear wife and children, from my mother and sisters to live as an outlaw in my own land. I have had to close my business, to abandon my profession, and live in poverty, as many of my people are doing…. I shall fight the Government side by side with you, inch by inch, and mile by mile, until victory is won. What are you going to do? Will you come along with us, or are you going to co-operate with the Government in its efforts to suppress the claims and aspirations of your own people? Are you going to remain silent and neutral in a matter of life and death to my people, to our people? For my own part I have made my choice. I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.

Class, Nyerere always insisted, was alien to Africa; socialism indigenous.

Once again I was struck by the great power of nationalism and ethnicity. We reacted instantly, for we felt as though we were seeing a brother African. Later, our hosts informed us that Sudani had been a legendary soldier, and had even reputedly captured an entire French unit single-handedly. But we were cheering him because of his color, not his exploits.

am prepared to pay the penalty even though I know how bitter and desperate is the situation of an African in the prisons of this country. I have been in these prisons and I know how gross is the discrimination, even behind the prison wall, against Africans…. Nevertheless these considerations do not sway me from the path that I have taken nor will they sway others like me. For to men, freedom in their own land is the pinnacle of their ambitions, from which nothing can turn men of conviction aside. More powerful than my fear of the dreadful conditions to which I might be subjected in prison is my hatred for the dreadful conditions to which my people are subjected outside prison throughout this country

women ululated

The General Law Amendment Act,

better known as the Ninety-Day Detention Law, waived the right of habeas corpus and empowered any police officer to detain any person without a warrant on grounds of suspicion of a political crime.

In Parliament, Helen Suzman, the representative of the liberal Progressive Party, cast the lone vote against the act.

Provision was also made for house arrest, the most well-known use of which was imposed on the white political activist Helen Joseph.

The memory of that loss is woven into the language of my people who speak of a “forlorn hope” by the phrase “Ukuza kuka Nxele.

The island takes its name from the Dutch word for seal, hundreds of which once cavorted in the icy Benguela currents that wash the shores. Later the island was turned into a leper colony, a lunatic asylum, and a naval base. The government had only recently turned the island back into a prison.

We were driven to the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, where the Supreme Court sits, for the opening of The State versus the National High Command and others, what later became known as The State versus Nelson Mandela and others, and is still better known as the Rivonia Trial.

am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death.

When letters did arrive, they were cherished. A letter was like the summer rain that could make even the desert bloom.

He too epitomized Chief Luthuli’s precept: “Let your courage rise with danger.

He very softly said to me that the authorities had made a change. That day was the beginning of what were known as “contact” visits. He then went outside to see my wife and daughter and asked to speak to Winnie privately. Winnie actually got a fright when Gregory took her aside, thinking that I was perhaps ill. But Gregory escorted her around the door and before either of us knew it, we were in the same room and in each other’s arms. I kissed and held my wife for the first time in all these many years. It was a moment I had dreamed about a thousand times. It was as if I were still dreaming. I held her to me for what seemed like an eternity. We were still and silent except for the sound of our hearts. I did not want to let go of her at all, but I broke free and embraced my daughter and then took her child into my lap. It had been twenty-one years since I had even touched my wife’s hand.

Only free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts…. I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I and you, the people, are not free. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated. I will return.

There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way. Finally, my isolation furnished my organization with an excuse in case matters went awry: the old man was alone and completely cut off, and his actions were taken by him as an individual, not a representative of the ANC.

The other main area of discussion was the issue of majority rule. They felt that if there was majority rule, the rights of minorities would be trampled. How would the ANC protect the rights of the white minority? they wanted to know. I said that there was no organization in the history of South Africa to compare with the ANC in terms of trying to unite all the people and races of South Africa. I referred them to the preamble of the Freedom Charter: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.” I told them that whites were Africans as well, and that in any future dispensation the majority would need the minority. We do not want to drive you into the sea, I said.

ON DECEMBER 20, 1991, after more than a year and a half of talks about talks, the real talks began: CODESA—the Convention for a Democratic South Africa—represented the first formal negotiations forum between the government, the ANC, and other South African parties. All of our previous bilateral discussions had been laying the groundwork for these talks, which took place at the World Trade Centre, a modern exhibition center near Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg. CODESA comprised eighteen delegations covering the gamut of South African politics, plus observers from the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the European Community, and the Organization of African Unity. It was the widest cross section of political groups ever gathered in one place in South Africa.

“We watched our children growing without our guidance,” I said at the wedding, “and when we did come out [of prison], my children said, ‘We thought we had a father and one day he’d come back. But to our dismay, our father came back and he left us alone because he has now become the father of the nation.’” To be the father of a nation is a great honor, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far too little of.

Perhaps that is why I felt so bereft when he died. I felt, as I told one colleague, like the loneliest man in the world.

ALTHOUGH FEW PEOPLE will remember June 3, 1993, it was a landmark in South African history. On that day, after months of negotiations at the World Trade Centre, the multiparty forum voted to set a date for the country’s first national, nonracial, one-person-one-vote election: April 27, 1994.

To make peace with an enemy one must work with that enemy, and that enemy becomes one’s partner.

As I stood over his grave, on a rise above the small school below, I thought not of the present but of the past. When I walked to the voting station, my mind dwelt on the heroes who had fallen so that I might be where I was that day, the men and women who had made the ultimate sacrifice for a cause that was now finally succeeding. I thought of Oliver Tambo, and Chris Hani, and Chief Luthuli, and Bram Fischer. I thought of our great African heroes, who had sacrificed so that millions of South Africans could be voting on that very day; I thought of Josiah Gumede, G. M. Naicker, Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman, Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Yusuf Dadoo, Moses Kotane. I did not go into that

This is one of the most important moments in the life of our country. I stand here before you filled with deep pride and joy—pride in the ordinary, humble people of this country. You have shown such a calm, patient determination to reclaim this country as your own, and now the joy that we can loudly proclaim from the rooftops—Free at last! Free at last! I stand before you humbled by your courage, with a heart full of love for all of you. I regard it as the highest honor to lead the ANC at this moment in our history. I am your servant…. It is not the individuals that matter, but the collective…. This is a time to heal the old wounds and build a new South Africa.

I never lost hope that this great transformation would occur. Not only because of the great heroes I have already cited, but because of the courage of the ordinary men and women of my country. I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

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.

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.

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.

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