8.5 Truly Inspiring
(When Mr. Nelson Mandela was released)
Completely different from Reagan’s Diary which omitted everything before his presidency, Long Walk To Freedom started Mr. Mandela’s strenuous and eventful personal account since he was a child and stopped short after he was elected as the president. Although large portion of the book was about his 27 years in prison, the book was everything else but depressing: hopeful, humorous and inspiring.
"I am an optimist…"
It showed nothing more and nothing less of that. When his was born, he believed he was going to follow his father’s path and to become an assistant to a tribal leader; He studied in then the only University in South Africa for blacks; he was grateful for all he was given by the whites…then his life took at turn at his last year in the university. He fought for the people he was going to represent. He failed but that marked his un-returning journey to freedom.
He took every chance to stand for inequality: African National Congress, non-violent protest, law practice. He did not give a second thought to sacrifice everything for what he believed in. During his years of living as an outlaw, he was dubbed as Black Pimpernel. While trying to evade authority, he playfully reveal his whereabouts to newspaper.
At page 100, he was arrested and convicted. The remaining 350 pages are about his 27 years of prison life. The years on Rodden Island was hard. They had to do long hours of labor work and were under constant harassment. It took months for them to get a tooth paste and years to obtain the right to study. Any improvement comes after years of struggle but could be revoked over night. A mind any less determined would have been broken down. Nothing ground down Mr. Mandela’s spirit. He forged alliance within the prison, stood for fellow inmate for injustice and never forgot his dignity. His action and words made an invisible yet powerful aura around him that inspires everybody. Nevertheless, like many other freedom fighter, he paid his personal price to the struggle: he expressed deep regret that he could not spend time with his month, to see his children grown up, to hug his wife.
He left out some bitter events in his book, like he did not mention a word about his divorce with Winnie. Overall, it is a faithful and spellbinding recount of his struggle. He appreciated every little blessings in his prison life. Those kept him going and fighting. An easy yet true inspiring read.