But then I slowly saw that not only was I not free, but my brothers and sisters were not free. I saw that it was not just my freedom that was curtailed, but the freedom of everyone who looked like I did. That is when I joined the African National Congress, and that is when the hunger for my own freedom became the greater hunger for the freedom of my people. It was this desire for the freedom of my people to live their lives with dignity and self-respect that animated my life, that transformed a frightened young man into a bold one, that drove a law-abiding attorney to become a criminal, that turned a family-loving husband into a man without a home, that forced a life-loving man to live like a monk. I am no more virtuous or self-sacrificing than the next man, but I found that I could not even enjoy the poor and limited freedoms I was allowed when I knew my people were not free. Freedom is indivisible; the chains on anyone of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.
But then Mandela realised that not only was he not free, but neither were his brothers and sisters. He saw that not only his freedom but the freedom of everyone who looked like him was being restricted. That's when he joined the African National Congress, and his desire for personal liberty replaced the larger desire for the liberty of his people.
It was this desire for his people's freedom to live their lives with dignity and self-respect that fueled his life, turning a fearful young man into a brave one, driving a law-abiding attorney to become a criminal, turning a family-loving husband into a man without a home, and forcing a life-loving man to live like a monk. He says that he was no more noble or selfless than the average man, but he discovered that he couldn't even appreciate the poor and limited liberties he was granted when he knew he people were not.
He always felt that the chains on any of his people were the chains on all of his people, and the chains on all of his people were the chains on him.
|Valley||A low area of land between hills or mountains, typically with a river or stream flowing through it|
|Crest||The top of a mountain or hill|
|Ripe||Having arrived at the fitting stage or time for a particular action or purpose|
|Downpour||A heavy fall of rain|
|Shower||A brief and usually light fall of rain, hail, sleet, or snow|
|Intimately||In a way that involves detailed knowledge|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). First Flight. Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (pp. 16 - 23). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi..