Before I read Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela, I did not know much about Nelson except for the fact that he was the first black president of South Africa and he won the Nobel Peace Prize. After reading Long Walk to Freedom, I realized that Nelson Mandela was an incredible human being that had an extraordinary mind. Nelson was beyond dedicated to the struggle and his organization, the African National Congress. Nelson showed great willpower to keep his composure as he was imprisoned for twenty-seven years based on his beliefs. I look up to Nelson as a great role model due to his ability to be so dedicated to a cause, which he knew was right when he was being persecuted due to his beliefs. Nelson never showed weakness as the government punished him and his family because Nelson acted based on beliefs.
A powerful quote in Long Walk to Freedom is when Nelson talks about hate. Nelson says, “No one is born hating another person because the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite” (622). This quote makes me feel that everyone needs to be very cautious when teaching children to prevent them from learning to hate people based on race or religion. Nelson learned to love rather than to hate people, and his desire and ability to teach this philosophy to others made him an incredible human being that made the world a better place. Nelson was a great leader that united people that had different beliefs but were fighting for the same cause. While in prison, Nelson united people within different organizations to join together to fight against the apartheid.
Another reason that I have gained respect for Nelson Mandela is through his work ethic. Mandela was smart, but his strong work ethic allowed him to gain a law degree. The degree he obtained allowed him to use the law to his advantage and ensure that he received as fair of treatment as possible in the courts that were sometimes racist. Nelson also worked hard for the African National Congress, and due to his work ethic, Nelson rose to the top as a leader of the ANC and the first black president. Nelson made his political beliefs become a more important priority over his family. I feel that Nelson let his family down when they needed him for support financially and emotionally. Nelson loved his family, but his family struggled when he was in prison.
Overall, the book was very fascinating and made me gain so much respect for Nelson Mandela based on his triumphs over the government. Nelson never retreated and stood by his people and the cause that he believed was right. The book sparked my interest in the trip, and I look forward to seeing Robben Island. I feel that seeing the area firsthand will enhance the book and allow me to better understand the conditions that Nelson faced during the struggle. My view of South Africa is much different now that I have read Long Walk to Freedom. I have a better understanding of the apartheid and how the government would persecute people based on their race. I look forward to seeing the country that has evolved away from this belief of apartheid and is on its way to becoming a world power.