Gary Goulin-Long Walk to Freedom

Author of Book: Nelson Mandela
Date Read: May 17, 2024

Book Report

Book Report #11 Written by Gary Goulin – May 17, 2024

Book Title: “Long Walk to Freedom”

Author of Book: Nelson Mandela

Date Completed: May 17, 2024

Why I Chose to Read This Book:

I have traveled to South Africa and visited Cape Town and Robben Island. I saw the cell where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and wanted to learn more about this remarkable man. Also, I wanted to hear about his imprisonment and how he coped with over two decades behind bars.

Book Summary:

This Autobiography chronicles Nelson Mandela’s life – from birth on July18,1918 until Mandela’s inauguration as South Africa’s first truly democratically elected black president on May 10, 1994. The book describes how Mandela grew up in the countryside, but of Zulu royalty on his father’s side. He was destined to become an advisor to a local king and was sent to excellent schools to help fulfill this destiny. However, Nelson wanted more, and ran away to Johannesburg. He continued his schooling, studying to become a lawyer.

It was during his college years that he became involved with the ANC – the African National Congress, a political group that pushed for a democratic South Africa – free of racial bias – a South Africa for all its people, – not just whites. The ANC was anti-apartheid. Mandela gradually rose in the ranks of the ANC from the youth committee, to the executive committee.

Mandela’s stance against apartheid, especially as he rose in the ranks of the ANC, put him in legal jeopardy. He was arrested and jailed multiple times, and ultimately sentenced to life in prison for his peaceful anti-government activities. He spent over two decades imprisoned at Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, but still managed to stay active and maintain a leadership position with the ANC.

The political tension in South Africa deteriorated during those 2 decades. Black Africans fought for their rights and decried apartheid. Many countries enacted sanctions against South Africa because of apartheid. Finally, an election was held in which all citizens of South Africa could vote – the first time blacks, (including Nelson Mandela) were ever allowed to vote. The ANC won 62% of the vote, and with Nelson Mandela its leader, Nelson became the very first truly democratically elected black leader of South Africa.

Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela – page 2

Lessons Learned:

While incarcerated, maintain a routine and more importantly a purpose and goal.

2. Try to find common ground with an enemy or adversary and work together towards

a common goal. Learn to compromise.

3. Fight for that in which you believe, but always keep an open mind.

How This Book Can Help Me While Incarcerated and Upon My Release:

Learning how Nelson Mandela endured his lengthy incarceration was very helpful to me. I, too, am comforted by routine and I have tried to maintain a routine here – at least as much as possible given the surprise lockdowns or facility closures. I, too, approached my incarceration with a purpose and goal in mind: to expand my horizons and become a better person. I continue to work hard towards that goal by taking both in-person and DVD – based adult continuing education classes (which I thoroughly enjoy) and by being of service to others through my job in the Resource Center.

Learning to comprise will be important upon my release. Re-entering society and my relationships with friends and loved ones will likely prove somewhat “rocky”. During my absence due to incarceration, people (including myself) evolve and change. There will likely be conflicts. But digging in and learning to compromise will help maintain and nurture those precious relationships. This will ultimately lead to a successful re-entry.