Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


Class 10th NCERT Book Solution| Q&A |Summary| Theme |Word meaning

Today, I will dive in deep to discuss all the important points of the Chapter ‘ Nelson Mandela: Long walk to Freedom’. I ensure you will get a complete idea to write the summary and explanation orderly. You will be able to write a better answer. After reading this page you will find the secret to score outstanding marks in your examination.

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  • Summary Of the Chapter
  • Theme and main Ideas
  • Keywords and Quick Point after each Stanza
  • Videos just like a live class
  • Relevant Quotations and statements
  • Difficult words
  • Question Answer


This chapter is an extract from the autobiography of the first Black President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. It begins with the description of the inaugural ceremony of the end of the blind faith in the discrimination against blacks in South Africa.

The author mentions the presence of the entire nation along with many international leaders in the celebration of the victory of a newly and fairly elected government. The chapter involves the oath of the President and the two Deputy Presidents followed by a speech of the President and an impressive air show of fighter jets.

The author says that during the first decade of the twentieth century, the white-skinned people sorted out their internal clashes, and stood against the dark-skinned people, thus making their lives- a living hell.

The author considers this discrimination on the basis of colour as one of the most inhuman acts. He says that he is very thankful to all those who struggled to attain basic human rights but couldn’t live to see the day when their mission was getting accomplished, as they were the sole reason behind his courage to fight inequality.

He also mentioned that despite the presence of many gems under the landmass of South Africa, the citizens of South Africa are the only assets to him.

As per his belief, a courageous man is not the one who is fearless, but it is the one who prevails the fear. While referring to the pitiable conditions of the dark-skinned people of South Africa, he talked about the two responsibilities which every human has, i.e., his duty towards society and his duty towards his family; but he says that while serving the nation, his family was getting neglected.

He says that in his childhood there were no restrictions on him, and when he grew up to be a teenager, he found few restrictions laid on him by his family, but when he gradually turned into an adult, he realised that the social norms were more strict for the dark-skinned ones.

The chapter is concluded with the thought that an oppressor itself is a prisoner of hatred if he/she takes away someone’s freedom, as while snatching someone’s rights, one loses his/her humanity too.

Difficult Words and Meaning

  • Dawned- (of a day) began
  • Pleasantly- giving a sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment; satisfying
  • Besieged- to be surrounded by
  • Dignitaries- a person considered to be important because of high rank or office.
  • Sandstone- sedimentary rock consisting of sand or quartz grains cemented together, typically red, yellow, or brown in colour.
  • Amphitheatre- an open – air theatre
  • Supremacy- the state or condition of being superior
  • to all others in authority, power, or status
  • Deputy- Second in command
  • Sworn- given under oath; determined to stay in the role specified
  • Pledged- committed (a person or organization) by a solemn promise.
  • Assembled- (of people) gather together in one place for a common purpose
  • Confer- grant
  • Glory- honour
  • Outlaws- because of its policy of apartheid, many countries had earlier broken off diplomatic relations with South Africa
  • On our own soil- in our own country
  • Possession- ownership
  • Dignity- the state or quality of being worthy of respect
  • Emancipation- the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions
  • Liberate- free; release
  • Bondage- the state of being a slave
  • Discrimination- being treated differently or unfavourably
  • Deprivation- the damaging lack of material benefits considered to be basic necessities in a society
  • Oppression- prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority.
  • Glorious- having, worthy of, or bringing fame or admiration.
  • Reign- rule; govern
  • Awe- amazed
  • Spectacular- beautiful in a dramatic and an eye-catching way
  • Array- an impressive display
  • Troop- soldiers or armed forces
  • Precision- accuracy
  • Bedecked- decorate
  • Unmindful- not conscious or aware
  • Chevron- a pattern in the shape of a V
  • Trail- series; chain
  • Symbolised- be a symbol of
  • Lyrics- the words of a song
  • Despised- hated, had a very low opinion of
  • Overwhelmed- have a strong emotional effect
  • Erected- build; construct
  • Racial domination- when people of one race have power over another race
  • Inhumane-cruel, brutal
  • Overturned- reverse
  • Unimaginable- difficult or impossible to imagine
  • Patriots- a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies
  • Apartheid- a policy or system of segregation on grounds of race
  • Profound- very great or intense
  • Unintended- not planned or meant
  • Comrades- a colleague or a fellow member of an organisation
  • Resilience- the ability to deal with any kind of hardship and recover from its effects
  • Defies- refuse to obey
  • Triumph- great victory or achievement
  • Grimmest- very serious or gloomy
  • Glimmer- shine faintly with a wavering light
  • Pushed to our limits- pushed to the last point in our ability to bear pain
  • Reassure- say or do something to remove the doubts
  • Obligations- a duty or a commitment
  • Civil- courteous and polite
  • Inclination- natural tendencies of behaviour
  • Inevitably- unavoidably
  • Twilight- half-light, semi- darkness
  • Secrecy- the action of keeping something secret
  • Rebellion- the action or process of resisting authority, convention or control
  • Stream- a small, narrow river
  • Mealies- a maize plant
  • Abided- obeyed
  • Boyhood- the state or time of being a boy
  • Illusion- a false idea or belief
  • Transitory- not permanent
  • Yearned- have an intense feeling or longing for something
  • Curtailed- reduce; impose a restriction on
  • Dignity- the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect
  • Frightened- afraid or anxious
  • Monk- a member of a religious community of men typically living under vows
  • of poverty, chastity, and obedience
  • Virtuous- having or showing high moral standards
  • Indivisible- unable to be divided or separatedPrejudice- a strong dislike without any good reason


  • Where did the ceremonies take place? Can you name any public buildings in India that are made of sandstone?

Answer : The ceremonies took place in an amphitheatre .

In India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Red Fort and the Supreme Court of India are some of the best examples of public buildings made of sandstone.

  • Can you say how 10 May is an ‘autumn day’ in South Africa?

Answer : Since South Africa lies in the Southern Hemisphere, we can clearly say that the May (10th May) falls in the autumn season.

  • At the beginning of his speech, Mandela mentions “an extraordinary human disaster”. What does he mean by this? What is the “glorious … human achievement” he speaks of at the end?

Answer : By “an extraordinary human disaster”, Mandela is referring to the discrimination system that was prevailing in South Africa under the previous leaderships. There people were treated with respect to their colour i.e., black or white. By ‘glorious human

achievement’, he refers to the victory of equality over inequality and discrimination on his victory as the first black President of South Africa.

  • What does Mandela thank the international leaders for?

Answer : The author thanked the international leaders for joining and supporting the people of

South Africa in their victory over discrimination

and injustice.

  • What ideals does he set out for the future of South Africa?

Answer : As the newly elected President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela set out ideals for a country which was free of poverty, discrimination and injustice. Thus liberating the country of all injustice practices.

  • What do the military generals do? How has their attitude changed, and why?

Answer : The military generals saluted Nelson Mandela and promised to support the newly formed democratic government of South Africa. Their attitude has changed because earlier there was the rule of the white supremacy, which strictly followed the apartheid. So, during that rule, they would have arrested Mandela, as

being a dark-skinned person, he too was

considered as a criminal.

Due to the abolition of Apartheid and the formation of a democratic government, their attitude has also changed.

  • Why were two national anthems sung?

Answer : The two national anthems, one of the Blacks and other of the Whites were sung to symbolise equality and respect for the entire community irrespective of their colour.

  • How does Mandela describe the systems of government in his country
  • the first decade, and
  • In the final decade, of the twentieth century?

Answer (i) : In the first decade of the twentieth century, white supremacy created a system of racial domination and made the life of the dark-

skinned people— a living hell. Mandela

described it as one of the ‘harshest, inhumane societies of the world’.

(ii) : In the final decade of the twentieth century, the system of apartheid has been changed into one that recognises all humans as equal regardless of their colour, race or gender due to the change of power from discriminating white leaders to just and democratic, Nelson Mandela. He describes it as the ‘glorious human achievement’ .

  • What does courage mean to Mandela?

Answer : Nelson Mandela described courage as a process of overcoming ones fear.

  • What does he think is natural, to love or to hate?

Answer : Nelson Mandela believes that love is more natural as it comes more naturally to humans as compared to hate.

11. What “twin obligations” does Mandela


Answer : According to Nelson Mandela, every person has “twin obligations” i.e., one towards his family and the other, towards the society.

  • What did being free mean to Mandela as a boy, and as a student? How does he contrast these “transitory freedoms” with “the basic and honourable freedoms”?

Answer : As a young boy, Mandela’s idea of freedom was to play around his mother’s hut, and as a student, his idea of freedom changed to be able to stay out at night, read whatever he desired and go wherever he chose. But gradually, on growing up as a man, he realised that those were ‘transitory freedoms’ which he was seeking in his childhood, because the problems faced by him as an adult were more severe than those in his childhood. As an adult,

he had to starve for basic and honourable

freedoms which had been taken away. Dark- skinned people were deprived of their fundamental human rights; and for them, freedom was an “illusion”.

  • Mandela think the oppressor is free? Why/Why not?

Answer : According to Nelson Mandela, the oppressor is as much a prisoner as the oppressed; and as soon as a person snatches someone’srights, he, himself gets looses his humanity. So, he thinks that the oppressor too, is not free.

  • Why did such a large number of international leaders attend the inauguration? What did it signify the triumph of?

Answer : A large number of international leaders attended the inauguration ceremony to celebrate the end of apartheid system and to

display their support for South Africa. It

signified the triumph of equality over inequality, justice over prejudice and courage over fear.

  • What does Mandela mean when he says he is “simply the sum of all those African patriots” who had gone before him?

Answer : While referring himself as the sum of all the African patriots who had gone before him, he wanted to thank all those who had fought against the system of apartheid, as they were the ones whose fearless attitude gave him the courage to stand against the discrimination.

  • Would you agree that the “depths of oppression” create “heights of character”? How does Mandela illustrate this? Can you add your own examples to this argument?

Answer : Yes, I agree that the “depths of

oppression” does create “heights of character”.

Mandela illustrated this idea by the example of

the Oliver Tambos, the Walter Sisulus, the Chief

Luthulis, the Yusuf Dadoos, the Bram Fischers, the Robert Sobukwes, who had emerged as great freedom fighters after years of oppression and brutality.

One of the greatest examples is of our own country, where our people were exploited under British rule for about 200 years. As a result of oppression of such magnitude, India got freedom fighters like Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev.

  • How did Mandela’s ‘hunger for freedom’ change his life?

Answer : As soon as Nelson Mandela realized his hunger for freedom, his life turned upside down. It transformed him from a family-man to a man of his people and a frightened young man into a bold one. He built his entire life around fighting for the basic fundamental

rights for his community. This made him more

selfless and virtuous than ever.


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