‘A long walk to freedom’ is Nelson Mandela’s autobiography.
Life was bleak and I needed inspiration. So I went online and started to read all the great things all the great people in the world have said (albeit in the quote format). While I was engrossed in this quick fix to greatness, I chanced upon the following quote: “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.”
Humans constantly make us doubt our faith in humanity and so this quote touched a certain nerve, or like a friend would put it, “made me dwell in the forest of my thoughts!” Given that a single phrase written by Mandela was able to create such great connect, I decided to read the entire book.
I had no great expectations from the book and wasn’t holding my breath for it to ‘wow’ me. But ‘wow me’ it did!
Not because of the language used or exhilarating plot but because of the spirit it possesses. The biography which reads like a story is a long book to finish, with numerous names, dates and locations that are close to impossible to keep a track of. At the same time it is also a lesson in history, the quest for freedom and the resilience of a man and an entire nation.
What was my take-away from the book?
We often complain about limitations. In fact everywhere I have been, I have found a way to blame my location for the all ways it confines me.
Mandela spent 27 years of his life behind bars, and accomplished much more than what most free people would. What made him so different? In my opinion, it was his need to be relevant to the world, that made him the Nobel laureate he is.
This book makes one realise that in order to be great, one also needs to sacrifice a great many things. On the matter of being away from his own family for years at length Mandela comments, “To be the father of a nation is great honour, but to be the father of a family is great joy. A joy I had far too little of.”
Limitations are something we more often than not impose on ourselves. We may not always like what we do, but at the same time we must work hard to find things we would like to be part of; like Mandela did by fighting for equal rights for all prisoners – black, white and brown or by planting a simple garden on the prison grounds.
To conclude, you are as free as your mind let’s you be.
Love Always, Z