Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, abridged by Michelene Wandor

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Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4

Download the text of The Long Walk To Freedom from the Internet Archive

BBC Radio 4, 9-13 December 2013
First published in 1995, Long Walk to Freedom outlines the long process of struggle experienced by Nelson Mandela, as he qualified as a lawyer, became a political activist, embraced the cause of the ANC, and then experienced long years of imprisonment until his release in 1990.
It must have been difficult for Mandela to write this work, especially in terms of tone.  Should he recount his feelings at any particular time during his life, or should he look at the bigger picture by showing how his individual struggles were actually part of a wider anti-apartheid movement involving politicians as well as ordinary people?  In actor John Kani's reading, it often seemed that Mandela understandably chose the latter option.  While admitting to certain human frailties - notably stubbornness and an obsession with political rather than personal issues - Mandela is more concerned with analysing the political as well as social significance of his struggles.  Although very much a leader, he makes it clear at all times that his experiences were shared by ordinary people - everyone, it seemed, was the victim of a series of oppressive regimes that tried (and ultimately failed) to restrict free expression, suppress dissent and emphasize white supremacy.
Long Walk to Freedom is an inspiring work - especially when read aloud, as Mandela emphasizes the importance of remaining true to one's beliefs through thick and thin.  If you think something is right, then fight for it.  It might be a long walk, but you will get there in the end.  The producer of this Book of the Week was Chris Wallis.