Nelson Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom | NCERT Class 10 Summary


This chapter is an excerpt from Nelson Mandela's autobiography (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013), South Africa's first black president. Excerpts from "Long Walk to Freedom" include a description of the inauguration ceremony, citations from his speech, his journey to becoming a freedom fighter, the struggle, and a tribute to other freedom fighters as well as countless other people who fought for their freedom. This lesson provides an overview of how Nelson Mandela and others paved the way to a society where there will be no discrimination based on their skin colour, caste, race, age, or gender.

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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's first black president and the first to be elected in a free and fair election. He fought against South Africa's 'apartheid' regime, which believed in racial segregation.

Nelson Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom | NCERT Class 10 Summary

Nelson Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom | Summary

The Inauguration Day

The tenth of May arrived. It was sunny and clear. Many world leaders had come to pay their respects to the author. It was the day before the inauguration. The inauguration was to be the largest gathering of world leaders ever held in the city.

The Place of Inauguration

In Pretoria, the inauguration ceremonies were held in a large open building. South Africa's first democratic non-racial government was to be established here.

The Swearing-in Ceremony

On that particular day, the author was with his daughter Zenani. Mr De Klerk was sworn in as the second deputy president for the first time. Thabo Mbeki was then sworn in as the country's first deputy president. It was then the author's turn. He was inaugurated as President. He promised to obey and defend the constitution. He also pledged to devote himself to the people's well-being.

The Author Addresses

The author mentioned the newborn liberty. He thanked all of the foreign visitors. He explained that they had come to see his countrymen. It was a triumph for justice, peace, and human dignity. He promised to rid his people of poverty, suffering, and discrimination.

Display by Jets and Helicopters

After a few moments, south African jets and helicopters flew over the Union Buildings. It was for the military's devotion to democracy that a new government was formed. The author was then saluted by the highest military generals, all of whom wore medals on their chests. He assumed they would have arrested him many years ago.

Singing of the National Anthem

The author associated the day with the playing of two national anthems. Whites sang 'Nkosi Sikelel,' while blacks sang 'Die Stem.' These were the old republican anthems.

The Author’s Thoughts

The author reflected on history on the day of the inauguration. South Africans had patched up their differences with other black-skinned people in the first decade. They had also constructed a superiority system. It served as the foundation of the harshest societies. This system had now been demolished. It was now the system that recognised all people's rights and freedoms.

The Author’s Regret

This auspicious day came after thousands of people made sacrifices. The author saw himself as the sum of all those people. He was disappointed that he couldn't express his gratitude to them.

Freedom Fighters Remembered

Apartheid policy left a deep wound in his country and among his people. This policy had produced many outstanding freedom fighters. They were similar to Oliver Tambos, Walter Sisulus, Chief Luthulis, Yusuf Dadoos, and others. They were men of extraordinary bravery, wisdom, and generosity. The country was mineral-rich. But its most valuable asset was its people.

The Definition of Courage

The author learned the meaning of courage from these people. They put their lives in danger. They were subjected to severe torture. He discovered that courage was not the absence of fear, but rather the triumph over it.

Man’s Natural Goodness

According to the author, no one is born hating another person because of their skin colour or religion. They could learn to love. The human heart is wired for love. They were pushed against the wall in prison. But he saw humanity in the guards' hearts. It was the essence of man's goodness. It cannot be extinguished.

Man’s Duties

Every man has dual responsibilities in life: to his family, to his community, and to his country. It was difficult for the author to fulfil these two responsibilities. It was because if a black man in South Africa lived like a human being, he was punished. A man like this was forced to live apart from his own people. As a result, he was unable to fulfil his obligations to his family.

Freedom Defined

The author was born without restrictions. He wasn't born with the desire to be free. He was free as long as he obeyed his father and followed his tribe's customs. But he soon realised that his freedom was a temporary phenomenon. When he lost his freedom, he became despondent. He desired the freedom to read and go as a student. As a young man in Johannesburg, he desired the freedom to develop to his full potential. He also desired financial independence for himself and his family.

The desire for Freedom Made Him Bold

But he soon realised that he, too, was not free like his brothers and sisters. Then he became a member of the African National Congress. His hunger for liberty grew in proportion to the freedom of his people. The desire for his people's freedom to live in dignity gave him power. It gave him confidence. It forced him to live like a monk. The chains that bound his people became chains for him as well.

Oppressor and the Oppressed Without Humanity

The author understood that the oppressor, like the oppressed, needed to be liberated. A man who takes away another person's freedom becomes despised. No one is free if he is robbing the freedom of others. Both the oppressor and the oppressed are dehumanised.



This chapter conveys the message that anyone, regardless of race, can achieve great things. As a result, no one should be discriminated against on any basis. Both the oppressor and the oppressed lose their humanity. One is motivated by hatred, the other by oppression, and both must be freed from these inhumane prisons. Mandela believes that people are born without hatred and learn it later in life. We also learn a very enlightening lesson from the chapter. A beautiful takeaway from the chapter is that people learn to hate and thus can learn to love.
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