Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
By Nelson Mandela
Reviewed by Dr. Leo Salgado, MSOL faculty
In his autobiography The Long Journey, Nelson Mandela tells his life story from childhood until he became president of the new South Africa. In this book, we can grasp the idea that leadership creates the future through a process that mobilizes people with various motives, values and goals in the pursuit of a common goal or significant change. It also supports Rosenstock-Huessy’s theory that ideas or words create history.
Although it appears that Mandela chose intentionally to give his life to the fight for freedom, instead of to Christ, as he himself writes, he did grow up in the church, and his character and values demonstrated to a large extend a Christian worldview. Although tempted at one time with communism, because of his friendship with ideological communists, he dismissed it because of its rejection of Christianity. Instead, he chose to love his friends and enemies as he pursued over the many decades of his life a multiracial and multi-ideological South Africa, for the love of freedom.
Nelson Mandela grew up in a world of tribal life. Early in his life, he lost his father and his tribe’s king adopted him as his child. Because the king already had a son, who was destined to become the king, he was instead destined to become a counselor to the king. Also, as a young man he knew nothing of the European world and the European’s racists injustice towards the African natives. One day, he heard his uncle speak against this injustice. Although, not quite understanding the issues, Mandela heard what his uncle said and responded to it, forming his long life struggle to raise the issue of injustice and to do something significant about it. Because he responded to those words, he was able, with the help of his friends and enemies, to create a new South Africa.
Nelson Mandela’s Christian upbringing helped him gain the respect of the political prisoners, the jailers and jail administrators while in his 27 years in prison. The manner in which he lived in prison helped him influenced all those whom he build relationships with, again even his enemies. With clear goals and values, he relentlessly, over decades, confronted the evil of enslaving racism in South Africa as he led others to the same goal: a multiracial, multi-ideology free South Africa. His whole life became the embodiments of words he heard as a child. This autobiography speaks volumes about what makes a leader. It should be a must for those interested in leadership.