The long walk to freedom

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  • Publié le : 14 février 2011
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Oral du second groupe
The Long Walk to Freedom
The following text is the very end of Nelson Mandela’s 750-page autobiography. It took himnearly
20 years to write it.
I was born with a hunger to be free. I was born free – free in every way that I could
know. Free to run in the fields nears my mother’s hut, free toswim in the clear stream that
ran through my village, free to roast mealies1 under the stars and ride the broad backs of
slow-moving bulls. As long as I obeyed my father and abided by2 the customs ofmy tribe, I
was not troubled by the laws of man or God.
It was only when I began to learn that my boyhood freedom was an illusion, when I
discovered as a young man that my freedom had already beentaken from me, that I began
to hunger for it. At first, as a student, I wanted freedom only for myself, the transitory
freedoms of being able to stay out at night in Johannesburg. I yearned3 for thebasic and
honourable freedoms of achieving my potential, of earning my keep, of marrying and having
a family –the freedom not to be obstructed in a lawful life.
But then I slowly saw that not onlywas I not free, but my brothers and sisters were
not free. I saw that it was not just my freedom that was curtailed4, but the freedom of
everyone who looked like I did. That is when I joined theAfrican National Congress, and that
is when the hunger for my own freedom became the greater hunger for the freedom of my
people. It was the desire for the freedom of my people to live their lives withdignity and selfrespect
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 husbandinto a
man without a home, that forced a life-loving man to live like a monk5. I am no more
virtuous or self-sacrificing than the next man, but I found that I could not even enjoy the
poor and...