Nelson Mandela began writing his autobiography while imprisoned in 1974. It was confiscated by authorities but he resumed writing after being released in 1990, with help of friends who aided him in remembering the details.
“Long Walk to Freedom” is a very thick book. I admit that I skimmed through the political pages because it would take a long time to read. I mostly wanted to read about his childhood, marriages and family life.
His life has indeed been a long walk. He went from being born in a typical African village, to getting a degree, getting involved in a cause, being imprisoned and eventually becoming a leader.
As a child after his father’s death, he was sent to be raised by a family who could send his to school. That must have been hard for his mother but she wanted him to have a future.
He told of being circumcised, running away from home with his friend to escape an arranged marriage, his marriages and children. The destiny for him was a difficult one. His family did not get his presence because he had to save a nation.
It is painful as a Christian to know that at one time, well-meaning missionaries treated other races as inferior in their attempts to help. We’ve seen it with Native Americans, Australians and Africans. Still, the Methodist schools that he attended gave him the education that many children are not afforded. The man who raised him was returning a favor that Nelson’s father had done for him when he was alive. This man was able to send him to there.
Nelson Mandela was not his birth name. It was the English-Christian name given to him on his first day of school. His father died when he was nine years old.
As a young man, an arranged marriage was announced by his friend’s father. He had already chosen the brides for the two young men and paid the dowries. They ran away from home and got into several scrapes. When the other young man received news of his father’s death, Nelson told him he should return home. By this time, Nelson already felt a calling for his own life that he couldn’t ignore.
His first marriage ended when his wife became a Jehovah’s Witness and they just believed in two different concepts. His second marriage ended after his release for the good of the country because her route had become too controversial.
I watched a documentary about his second wife, Winnie. Although her path later took a rough turn, I believe in the beginning, she was wanting to help her husband by being involved. She herself was imprisoned for a period of time. The separation was very hard on her.
I read in other sources that he later married his third wife who had been married to a prior leader before becoming a widow.
Although Nelson’s family paid a difficult price, his sacrifice changed a nation and the world.