4/28/10

LONG WALK TO FREEDOM- Nelson Mandela


Today I am reading the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, I had not thought that the book will be so interesting to me later on. I have just completed the childhood part of Mandela and it pretty inspired me. It has made me impatient to visit Africa, learn about African tribes and many more. I always hope that my childhood would have spent in some remote village rather than in this Kathmandu city. When you are in village, you can acquire some traits naturally. Playing with the nature is much more interesting than the famous Disney Lands in the west. What a tragedy of modern civilisation?? We long to see the amusements in the west, while we have plenty of natural amusements in our own natural settings. The main point is all our education has taught us that the modernisation lies in disembracing what the natural environment offers to us and enjoy in the artificial environment. At this time, I remember a dialogue in the film “The day when earth stood still”. Which says, “I came in earth to save it from human beings?”

The next thing that touched me was the tradition of circumcision which converted a boy into man. This led me to think that every tribe which has some history has some ritual of converting a boy into a man and a girl into a woman. It’s called “Bratabandha” in our tradition and the menstrual ritual for girls which is often called “Gupha Banse” in the Newari culture. However, the mention of circumscision also drew me back to my gender class of 2nd year. I had learnt of the circumscision of girls, whereby the girls would remove or damage the most important part of their body to give them the sexual pleasure i.e. clitoris. This thing striked me a lot that the circumscision of boys was far more healthier than that of girls. It would prevent infection adn some diseases as well. However, the same part of girl was far more dangerous than it.

Mandela had privilege to continue his study far more than he had ever thought of. He was included in the regent family after the death of his father which changed the course of his life.I found Mandela as a mediocre man at first , who is afraid to revolt, who wants to choose the mediocre path i.e. a midway. However, the persons around him have been able to arouse the instinct of revolution within him. There were so many injustices around that he could not remain deaf and blind towards the suffering of his own people.

And and of course this book reminds me of the colonial rule, how the Britain had been able to oppress the people under their rule and their tyranny of course. Africans in their own country had been enslaved. People were poor and they were boycotted from the mainstream of development. Most ofthe Africans could not continue their higher studies because of the meagre resources. They could continue only the education till the primary level as it was free. The professions were separated for the black man. There were “white only area” white only bus” “white only profession” and many more. Representation in the mainstream was a far away dream for them, they were not even allowed to vote. Whites were superior just by the virtue of their colour of their skin. Blacks worked in mines, black did all the hard labor jobs and the fruits was actually enjoyed by the whites. Moreover, the education system was all the British based education system whereby the people were taught in all English styles and the native African knowledge was totally ingnored. It was interesting to know that there used to be the discrimination even among the prisoners themselves. The prisoners can be Indian, colored or African or even white. The Indians and the Coloured used to get the extra food than African. If the Africans used to get shorts to wear, the others were given the trousers. It was a deep rooted system. The African people were called with the animal names sometimes as they didn’t use to consider them more than the animals or cattles.

Though I had known the British strategy in order to make people under their command, i get more clearer on this regard. This led me back to my Good Governance Class where I had read a short paragraph of Lord Machhauli who had advocated of the British education System and had been able to generate fund after this speech was proposed in the parliament. It was a speech delivered by Lord Macaulay To the British Parliament on 2nd February, 1835. “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I don’t think, we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

Everyone thinks that they learned English Language with much respect and reverence. Howeve, one day Nelson realised the importance of his own language when he was humiliated by a queen. He knew that in order to work for his natives it was necessary for him to know and understand their language.

ANC(African National Congress) is the name repeatedly found in this book. It is the historical party which kept the movement alive. There were some parties which were formed due to the disagreement with the ANC like PAC. It was embarrassing to know that the parties have been splitted but its more disappointing to find out that the parties with the same goal and vision are acting against each other. There were many arguments among these parties. Later on it was banned and Nelson Mandela was kept in jail. He was banned frequently and he was kept in prison often and so I don’t actually remember how many times it happened. However, when he along with some of the leaders of ANC were given life imprisonment in Rivona trial.

The days in his prison may be quite boring for him but it was interesting to me to know how they used to communicate and get the news. They had the brilliant system of devising the flow of communication channels. At that time also, Mandela had truly shown the characteristic of a leader. He used to get involved in many cases of the prisoners and solve them. He was the spokesperson of the prisoners and his bold and brave feature have always met with the rewarding situation. He has mentioned how much he missed his family and wife. Each time when anyone from the family used to meet him, he used to miss them for a long time.

Nelson Mandela, I found a calm and a cool man, his leadership quality was groomed up along with his experiences. He is a man who never rested, who never lose hope and who always fought for his freedom. Though he was the one who had started the armed struggle, he is worth a man to be awarded with the nobel prize. I know that he alone is not responsible for the freedom of South Africa and there are many faces that are responsible for its freedom. Mandela is one of those prominent one and his recognition is world wide.

While talking about him, my memory is pushing back me to my school days when we had to read about Nelson Mandela. The most surprising thing for me at that time was the number of years he had spent in prison. He had spent nearly three decades in the prion???? It was a shocking incident for me and I had been a great fan of Mandela at that time when I knew that he had rejected to be released when the government had tried to allure him with the options.

What impressed me most about Mandela was his nature of leadership. His way of advocating Africa as a free country. He had not only denied the white domination but the black domination as well. He never failed to assure white that their rights will be secured even under the regime of black Prime Minister which was necessary to do. He never failed to bow and feel low in the necessary situation. He never failed to keep peace even with the enemy and those who wanted the peace process to fail. He has shown the true leadership by compromising in the necessary circumstances.

I was particularly impressed by Mandela during his speech in the election time. “Life will not change dramatically, except that you will have increased your self-esteeem and you will be citizen in your own land. You must have patience. You must have to wait five years from now for the results to be shown. If you want to continue the living in poverty without clothes and food, then go and drink in the shebeens. But if you want better things, you must work hard. We cannot do it all for you; you must do it yourself.” This was really impressive when I compared with the political leaders of my own country who had promised to make our country Switzerland and Singapore within their regime but we haven’t even reached to the level of SAARC country. It’s the tragedy when the leaders fill in high aspiration among the people without any base and it’s more tragic when people believe them leading to nothing but the frustration.

South Africa now has been a model country. After such a long fight for freedom, their economic status is high and that they have formed a model constitution. It led to compare me the situation with my own country. I have to held my tears back whenever I analyse the situation of my country. Nepal has been a land of revolutions where there are revolutions in every two or three decades. Every time people revolt aspiring the new situation but every so called leaders have failed in their leadership time and again. May be the mental attitude and the inefficient system has led to all this. Millions of people are involved in the civil sector but no productivity has been seen over there. Corruption has been a national culture. It has been installed in our sub-conscious mind and every now and then we are involved in the corruption either being its victim or being its partner. Its the tragedy of Nepal and Nepalese that we are always deprived of good leadership. Sometimes I think that Nepal cannot prosper until and unless all the political leaders of our country is killed and so totally new generation take over their place. I think its nearly an impossible thnking until and unless there is a massive political bloodshed or natural disaster. Yea, how can I exclude the Maoists in this very culture, I used to respect them before for their idea of constituent assembly, secular nation and republic nation. But i no longer like them. Twelve years of political bloodshed has brought nothing to Nepal, no change and finally the Maoist leadrs have also followed the same trend as previous politicians. After all, the Nepalese are show such a reluctance in introducing and accepting any change.

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