On Long Walk To Freedom

Below are ten excerpts that I found particularly insightful from  Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela – a truly spectacular story of one of the greatest men of the century!

1- “As a leader, I have always followed the principles I first saw demonstrated by the regent at the Great Place. I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion. I always remember the regent’s axiom: a leader, he said, is like a shepherd. 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.”

2- “…I learned from Gaur that a degree was not in itself a guarantee of leadership and that it meant nothing unless one went out into the community to prove oneself.”

3- “Non-violent passive resistance is effective as long as your opposition adheres to the same rules that you do. But if a peaceful protest is met with violence, its efficacy is at an end. For me, nonviolence was not a moral principle but a strategy; there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon.”

4- “Although I read a variety of newspapers from around the country, newspapers are  only a poor shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of both those who produce the paper and those who read it.”

5- “Prison not only robs you of your freedom, it attempts to take away your identity. Everyone wears the same uniform, eats the same food, follows the same schedule. It is by definition a purely authoritarian state that tolerates no independence or individuality. As a freedom fighter and as a man, one must fight against the prison’s attempt to rob one of these qualities.”

6- “Prison was a kind of crucible that tested a man’s character. Some men, under the pressure of incarceration, showed true mettle, while others revealed themselves as less than what they had appeared to be.”

7- “In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must also tend his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the result. Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed.”

8- “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.”

9- “It is relatively simple proposition to keep a movement together when you are fighting against a common enemy. But creating a policy when the enemy is across the negotiating table is another manner altogether.”

10- “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’s man freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

Long Walk to Freedom

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