Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom Class 10 | Chapter 2 | First Flight |


Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom Class 10 | Chapter 2 | First Flight |

Summary of Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom

Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is an excerpt taken from the autobiography of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first black President ever in the history of South Africa. This chapter shows us a clear and definite picture that how he, along with others, paved his way to freedom and formed such a society that is absolutely free from all the discrimination based on caste, creed, religion and race etc. Besides, this chapter contains brief and vivid description of his inauguration ceremony on being the first Black-President wherein many dignitaries and political figures from different countries came to welcome him as a President, references and quotes from his influential speech along with his ceaseless struggle of being a freedom fighter from an ordinary man. It also sheds light on the hardships borne by black people for their much-needed freedom in South Africa

In the beginning, Nelson Mandela reminisces the day when he swore in as the first Black President of South Africa in front of many political leaders from different countries on 10th May 1994. It had happened for the first time in the history of South Africa when elections were held democratically and most of the seats were won by Nelson Mandela and his party members. While addressing Mandela thanks all the dignitaries and assure all his fellow people that this country would no longer witness the same crushing of one group of people by another as done before and no one would be discriminated on the basis of his colour, caste, creed or race. Besides, he assures all of them of equal treatment no matter whatever the situation is.

On this day, two national anthems are sung: firstly the vision of whites sings ‘Nkosi Sikelel Afrika whereas the black sing ‘Die Stem’ the old anthem of the Republic. He remembers the days of torture and harassment borne by the black-skinned people for their basic rights in the country. He believes that one should rise above the prejudices and act humanly irrespective of one’s caste, creed, religion and race. In this way, peace and brotherhood can prevail among the people of any country.

He also mentions that brushing aside the fear makes one fearless. Furthermore, Mandela clarifies that every man in life has two major obligations; the first one towards his family especially to parents, wife and children and the second one is towards his motherland, countrymen and his community and both responsibilities (obligations) should be held religiously. According to him, one can fulfill both these obligations as per his own taste and inclinations.  However, at the same time, he realizes how difficult it was to fulfill both these obligations as a black man in a country like South Africa before the democracy came into existence and had its wings everywhere. He remembers the days when he thought that freedom was merely an illusion and temporary for the minorities of his town who were dealt with as if they were slave and born to be biased by the white-skinned people of his own country. According to him, freedom is meant for all which must be enjoyed by all and sundry. He teaches a lesson of self-reliance to all and proves that valiant dies only once.


Textual Questions

Oral Comprehension Check (Page 18-19)

Question 1: Where did the ceremonies take place? Can you name any public buildings in India that are made of sandstone?

Answer: The ceremonies were held in the sandstone Amphitheatre formed by the Union Buildings in Pretoria. There were dignitaries there from different countries. In India, the Rashtrapati Bhavan and Red Fort are also made of red sandstone.

Question 2: Can you say how 10 May is an ‘autumn day’ in South Africa?

Answer: Autumn is a harvest time which symbolizes abundance. It is also the day when the first democratic, non-racial government in South Africa took place in front of a huge gathering of internation leaders. This happened on 10 May during an autumn day.

Question 3: 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: Nelson Mandela wanted people to know about the way Apartheid was practiced in South Africa. Black people were separated from other races and they suffered the most because of this. Mandela was jailed for 18 years on Robben Island, where he was treated badly by the authorities. He became very happy when he became the first Black president of South Africa. He wanted to make sure that no black was deprived of the basic amenities and underwent mental trauma due to discrimination.

Question 4: What does Mandela thank the international leaders for?

Answer: Mandela thanked everybody especially the dignitaries and international leaders for coming to watch him get sworn in. He felt happy because it wasn’t long ago when South Africans were treated as outlaws. The people had come from far and wide to see him swear his oath of office. This event showed that justice, peace, and human dignity were important for everyone.

Question 5: What ideals does he set out for the future of South Africa?

Answer: Mandela wanted the people of South Africa to be free from all the oppression. He wanted them to be able to enjoy their freedom without being tied down by poverty, deprivation, or suffering. He also wanted the people to have the same rights as everyone else has in his country.

Oral Comprehension Check (Page 21)

Question 1: What do the military generals do? How has their attitude changed and why?

Answer: The generals of the South African military and police saluted and pledged their loyalty to Nelson Mandela. This was a big deal because they would have arrested him and put him in jail if he weren’t such a hero. The generals changed their attitude towards Blacks because of all the struggles they had made for them, like the heroes of South Africa. The struggle for freedom wasn’t against Apartheid, but it brought about a new mindset for many people.

Question 2: Why were two national anthems sung?

Answer: The inauguration ceremony had two national anthems that were sung to represent equality. Whites sang ‘Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika‘ whereas Blacks sang ‘Die Stem‘.

Question 3: How does Mandela describe the systems of government in his country –

(i) in the first decade, and (ii) in the final decade, of the twentieth century?


  1. In the first decade of the twentieth century, white people in South Africa made a system that was against those with dark skin. They were not nice to those people. They created one of the harshest and most inhumane societies ever seen or known.
  2. In the final decade of the twentieth century, people had overthrown their old government and replaced it with one that treated all people equally. People were not judged by their skin color anymore.

Question 4: What does courage mean to Mandela?

Answer: According to Mr. Mandela, courage is not when you don’t feel afraid, but when you conquer the fear and do what needs to be done.

Question 5: Which does he think is natural, to love or to hate?

Answer: Mandela thought that love comes more easily and naturally to the human heart than hate comes.

Oral Comprehension Check (Page 24)

Question 1: What “twin obligations” does Mandela mention?

Answer: According to Mandela, every man has two obligations in his life. First to his parents, wife and children and second obligation to his country, its communities and people.

Question 2: 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: Mandela felt that being happy, making merry, and enjoying life were what freedom meant when he was a child. But when people get older, they realize the importance of earning money for themselves so they can have food to eat. They also realize how important it is to have freedom in their family and society.

Question 3: Does Mandela think the oppressor is free? Why/Why not?

Answer: Mandela thinks that the oppressor is not free because he is a person who has hatred and can’t see anything else. He also feels that the oppressed person is not free because of the injustice they live in. Both of them are robbed of their humanity and peace of mind.

Thinking about the Text (Page 24)

Question 1: Why did such a large number of international leaders attend the inauguration? What did it signify the triumph of?

Answer: The international leaders showed solidarity. They said that they believe that the end of Apartheid means that good will win over evil, and that society will be without prejudice or discrimination against caste, color, or creed.

Question 2: What does Mandela mean when he says he is “simply the sum of all those African patriots” who had gone before him?

Answer: Mandela says that he is not simply himself, but the sum of all those African patriots. He thanks them for sacrificing their lives in favor of the struggle for freedom. Mandela says that he will always be grateful and thankful to those who had gone before him because they paved his way to cooperation and unity. When Mandela becomes president, he will bring equality among his people along with their support and co-operation.

Question 3: 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 with the statement that ‘depths of oppression’ do create ‘heights of character’. Nelson Mandela mentions people who struggled for freedom in South Africa. They are heroes because they sacrificed their lives to help others gain their freedom too.

There were many great leaders in India before it was independent. People like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Lala Lajpat Rai, Chandra Shekhar Ajad and Bhagat Singh were not afraid to stand up for their rights. They are much better than the current Indian political leaders. Nelson Mandela said that they are better if you compare them with the quality of the people who are leading India today.

Question 4: How did Mandela’s understanding of freedom change with age and experience?

Answer: As a young boy, Nelson Mandela always thought he had freedom. He believed that as long as he obeyed his father and abided by the customs of his tribe, he was free. But when he got older, he started to feel that freedom was required to raise a family and earn a living. This became one of his ideas and thoughts. In time, he realized that he was selfish and he led an illusionary life during his boyhood. He slowly understood that it wasn’t just his freedom that was being taken away, but the freedom of all Black people. Mandela understood that his people were being mistreated and discriminated against and this led him to want to lead them towards freedom.

Question 5: How did Mandela’s ‘hunger for freedom’ change his life?

Answer: Mandela’s freedom was not the only one that was taken away. He wanted to take away the freedom of all Black people too. The hunger for his own freedom became a hunger for Black people to be free and he fought against discrimination and prejudice, like age and color. Mandela loved his family but decided to become a rebel because he knew it would make things better for other Black people who were also scared. He joined the African National Congress which made him feel fearless and bolder than before.

Important Question and Answers 

Q1. What motivated Nelson Mandela to implement the policy of apartheid in South Africa?

Ans. White people of Africa used to exploit and rule over the black-skinned Africans on account of racial discrimination. In order to stop their harassment, it was necessary to bring in the policy of apartheid.

Q2. How was ‘Being Free’ different to Nelson Mandela as a student and as a boy?

Ans. Being a boy, Nelson Mandela considered freedom to wander aimlessly and freely in the fields of his village, to swim limitlessly and to run through the entire village. Being a student, he meant freedom to night out and to read whatever pleased him and to go wherever he wanted to.

Q3. Why is 10th May, 1994 considered as red letter day for Africans?

Ans.  On that day, Nelson Mandela and his entire team swore in. It was the day of the inaugural oath ceremony which was held with pomp and show in the presence of renowned political leaders of the world. On that day, Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa.

Q4. What are the common obligations of every man according to Nelson Mandela?

Ans. According to him, every man has two obligations; first one towards his family members and second one towards the people of his country. He further added that one should follow these two practice religiously.

Q5. What was the futuristic dream of Nelson Mandela for South Africa?

Ans. Mandela always wanted his country to be free from poverty and discrimination and all other social evils. According to him, no one should be discriminated on the basis of caste, creed, colour, race and religion. He wished freedom and openness for all the inhabitants of his country.

Q6. What made Nelson Mandela emotional on becoming the first black President of South Africa?

Ans. When Mandela swore in, he got emotional while thanking his comrades who were not present there to see what their sacrifices had brought to their country. Besides, he recounted the hardships and chivalry of thousand of patriots, who fought for the freedom of their country.

Q7. What brought an optimistic change in Nelson Mandela’s life?

Ans. A strong desire of being free of the people of his own country altered Nelson Mandela’s life altogether. He was transformed into a fearless young man from a scared one. His strong will turned a law-abiding lawyer to a criminal who was once ready to lay down everything for his people and country. A family man was forced to turn into a monk without home. He got disheartened when he came to know about the pathetic condition of his country people who were treated as if they were slave. Thereupon, he decided to fight for the rights of his countrymen and to make them free as soon as possible.  Ultimately, his fruitful efforts brought laurels that broke all the shackles of his countrymen and free them forever. Now, there was no more racial discrimination which disturbed him the most. The motive of his life was achieved with the utter freedom of his own people.


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