In His Own Words


A collection of some of the most historic and inspirational addresses by one of the most renowned political leaders of our day.The most stirring voice to come out of South Africa, Nelson Mandela has brought his message of freedom, equality, and human dignity to the entire world. Now, for the first time, his most eloquent and important speeches are collected in a single volume. From the eve of his imprisonment to his release 27 years later, from his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize to his election as South ...

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A collection of some of the most historic and inspirational addresses by one of the most renowned political leaders of our day.The most stirring voice to come out of South Africa, Nelson Mandela has brought his message of freedom, equality, and human dignity to the entire world. Now, for the first time, his most eloquent and important speeches are collected in a single volume. From the eve of his imprisonment to his release 27 years later, from his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize to his election as South Africas first black president, these speeches span some of the most pivotal moments of Mandelas life and of his countrys history. And they memorably illustrate his lasting commitment to freedom and reconciliation, democracy and development, culture and diversity, and international peace.The extraordinary power of this volume is in the moving words and intimate tone of Mandela himself, a living legend and one of the most articulate, courageous, and respected men of our generation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This collection by former South African President Mandela presents the Nobel laureate's speeches on a wide variety of subjects. The book is organized topically; each section-on struggle, freedom, reconciliation, nation building, development, education and culture-is introduced with an essay by a leading spokesperson for the respective field (e.g., Bill Cosby, Desmond Tutu). Together, the speeches chart Mandela's evolution from freedom fighter (some might say "terrorist") to president to secular icon. Included is Mandela's famous speech to the Rivonia court before his sentencing on charges of insurrection, as well as his commentary on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The sections on culture include essays on "Music, Dance, and Poetry" and "One City, Many Cultures." The cultural sections allow the reader to sense the fullness of Mandela's life beyond his political leadership. The collection forms an important record of the thoughts of a compelling historical figure and makes a nice companion to Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. But because the writings included are predominantly public statements, speeches and proclamations, the book suffers from redundancy and a somewhat monotonous style. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ranging over nearly three decades, the 100+ addresses in this collection are organized by themes ranging from religion to nation building. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316110198
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 12/28/2004
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 686,793
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.87 (d)

Read an Excerpt

In His Own Words

By Nelson Mandela

Little, Brown

Copyright © 2003 Nelson Mandela Foundation
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-11019-1

Chapter One




How extraordinary, even astonishing, it is to find passages written by Nelson Mandela in 1951 anticipating the nature of today's war on Iraq: 'Mankind as a whole is today standing on the threshold of great events - events that at times seem to threaten its very existence,' he told the annual conference of the African National Congress Youth League in December 1951, 'those groups, parties or persons that are prepared to go to war in defence of colonialism, imperialism and their profits', those 'who are determined to perpetuate a permanent atmosphere of crisis and fear in the world knowing that a frightened world cannot think clearly, these groups attempt to create conditions under which the common men might be inveigled into supporting the building of more and more atomic bombs, bacteriological weapons, and other instruments of mass destruction.'

It was 1951; three years after the National Party came to power, taking South Africa into a direction different to the tendency of the late colonial world, just a decade before the post-colonial independence movements reached their crescendo. The 1950s were a time in which the United States of America became strong, starting a post-war expansion extraordinary in itseconomic scale, and militarily awesome in its technological hardware. The US government was no friend to Mandela and the ANC during the difficult days of apartheid, but made up for it by Bill Clinton's support for democratic transformation after 1994.

The 1950s was for Mandela also a time of the ordinary person, 'the common man [who] is rising from being the object of history to becoming the subject of history', an expression strongly Hegelian in its philosophy of history. It was a time of growing defiance against injustice, of the 'oppressed all over the world' becoming 'creators of their own history', pledging 'to carve their destiny and not to leave it in the hands of tiny ruling circles - or classes'. The idiom used was clearly Marxist, though not because he was one, as Mandela later explained in his lonesome and compellingly powerful defence in the statement from the dock at the opening of the Rivonia Trial in April 1964: 'I have denied that I am a communist? I have always regarded myself, in the first place, as an African patriot.' He was 'attracted to the idea of a classless society, an attraction which springs in part from Marxist reading' and is based on the egalitarianism with which pre-capitalist society treated land ownership, the promise of equality of which Marx spoke having a strong resonance with the - perhaps overstated in recollection - ethos of the 'tribe': 'There were no rich or poor and there was no exploitation.'

But where Marxists dismissed representative democracy as a mere shell for the expression of class interests, Mandela admired the Western parliamentary system; he had great respect for British political institutions, particularly the independence with which the judiciary was endowed, both in Britain and in the US, where the separation of powers, between the executive, Parliament or Congress and courts of law, provided for the just and fair representation of individual citizens on the basis of equality of citizenship. Individual representation was about human dignity, which next to poverty, were the two abiding issues that placed him and his people in bondage under apartheid. And therefore, Mandela gave himself the freedom to 'borrow the best from the West and the East' as he put it, to fight against poverty and the lack of human dignity, an intellectual liberation from dogma, powerfully stated.

The freedom to make up your own mind, to craft ideas for the problems of your own place and time and to find indigenous solutions by borrowing and not bowing to either the West or the East or both, was a quality Mandela and the ANC leadership brought to negotiations of the early 1990s, the settlement of 1994 and reconciliation politics of the post-apartheid democratic era. As Van Zyl Slabbert puts it elsewhere in this book: 'South Africa, as far as my knowledge goes, is the only country that negotiated itself out of domination into democracy without any outside assistance and/or interference.' From Marxism he took the class capacity this theoretical eschatology gave to the ordinary person, to use his or her 'labour power' as an instrument of resistance against unjust laws during the Defiance Campaign of 1952, empowering the masses by a recognition of its source: 'there is a mighty awakening among men and women of our country and the year 1952 stands out as the year of this upsurge of national consciousness', he told the Transvaal meeting of the African National Congress in 1953. The Defiance Campaign, like a lot of things in the political history of struggle, started in Port Elizabeth, and it awoke the 'political functioning of the masses'.

He was not a communist and counselled against open revolution and guerrilla warfare, widely regarded as their trademark. He was a democrat. The Defiance Campaign exemplified the 'passive resistance' against unjust laws inspired by Gandhi, the towering personality from the 'East', and respect for and admiration of the 'just laws' made democratically in the West. This was as much a question of analysis of class interests as it was a question of strategy moved by conscience, considerations of what is not only appropriate but what also is right: 'all South Africans are entitled to live a free life', Mandela told the Old Synagogue Court on the closure on the prosecution's case in 1962, 'on the basis of fullest equality of the rights and opportunities in every field, of full democratic rights, with a direct say in the affairs of the government', not simply because of an intellectual consideration of what is proper and just, but because Mandela felt 'driven to speak up for what we believe is right', because 'truth and justice' mattered to the dignity of the individual, to the emotional wellbeing of a person that neuro-psychologists today would associate with the power of the brain to have an inner-eye, a 'conscience'. It is here in Mandela's addresses that we first come across a phenomenon a colleague once described as an 'instinct for justice and democracy', and therefore a visceral reaction to injustice, the indignity of racial discrimination and to what Mandela characterised as the fascism of apartheid associated with an ideology of the herrenvolk, unsatisfactorily translated as a 'master race'.

Something else in his speeches and writings that we only see with hindsight, after having met him, we can now recognise as a quite extraordinary quality: an uncanny ability to lead by virtue of a self-reflective and deeply understood appreciation of the contradictoriness of human nature. Anthony Sampson in his biography, Mandela, describes the reflective self-understanding of dignity as a core of the humanity that framed his personality. Anybody who has met him would know the feeling. Mandela receives any person with the greatest of respect. He makes you feel valued and important as a sincere expression of his person.

Mandela's approach to building the South African nation, to the reconciliation of diverse people with an awful history of oppression and repression, became a natural extension of a personality that lacked a sense of bitterness or vengeance. 'Mandela's capacity for forgiveness already amazed visitors', wrote Sampson, and '[M]any of his basic principles - his capacity for seeing the best in people, his belief in the dignity of man, his forgiveness - were essentially religious.' The politics of these personality characteristics were, never to diminish your own dignity by diminishing that of others, and never to humiliate your adversary or do things to make them bitter beyond the reach of a future reciprocal embrace. This notion of an appreciation of our mutual humanity in the darkest hours of rage or despair is the quality that saved South Africa from self-destruction, articulated all too clearly in Mandela's statement from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the Rivonia Trial of 20 April 1964.

After countless efforts to petition and make representations to government, endless letters that went unanswered, of civil disobedience to convey unhappiness with unjust racial laws, Mandela explained that they either had to submit or fight. In a statement where he rejected PW Botha's offer of release with conditions, which was read out at a public meeting in Soweto by his daughter Zindzi Mandela in 1985, he recounted how 'My colleagues and I wrote in 1952 to Malan asking for a round table to find a solution to the problems of our country, but that was ignored. When Strijdom was in power we made the same offer. Again it was ignored. When Verwoerd was in power we asked for a national convention for all the people in South Africa to decide on their future. This, too, was in vain.'

Only then did the ANC form Umkhonto we Sizwe, and there was a choice to be made between four options: 'there is sabotage, there is guerrilla warfare, there is terrorism, and there is open revolution. We chose to adopt the first method and to exhaust it before taking any other decision.' Sabotage of installations and infrastructure was chosen because it did not involve the loss of life and because it would scare investors away, 'thus compelling [white] voters to reconsider their position'. And, in a series of phrases that anticipates his approach to post-apartheid nation building, sabotage 'offered the best hope for future race relations. Bitterness would be kept to a minimum and, if the policy bore fruit, democratic government could become a reality.'

Mandela sent a ringing letter of encouragement to the students who took to the streets of Soweto in 1976: The 'verdict of June 16 is loud and clear,' he said, 'apartheid is dead'. But in a long and considered treatment on the Black Consciousness Movement, he worried deeply about the wisdom of denigrating Afrikaners and the Afrikaans language. I remember the time. As an undergraduate student at the University of the Western Cape in the early 1970s the Black Consciousness Movement had great appeal because it celebrated the dignity of black humanity. But because there was no memory and political presence of the nonracialism of the ANC, given the incarceration and exile of its entire leadership, the assertion of black pride came at the cost of denigrating the culture of the oppressors, which included the language of Afrikaans, a tendency made worse when government imposed Afrikaans as a compulsory language in black schools which in turn sparked the Soweto revolt. In a powerful passage, Mandela had this to say about the implications of diminishing your adversary:

Like many people inside and outside the liberation movement, BCM members have strong objections to the use of Afrikaans. The objection is quite understandable since Afrikaans is not only the language of the oppressor, but has also produced a literature that portrays the black man in a bad light. However, Afrikaans is the language of a substantial section of the country's blacks and any attempts to deprive them of their language would be dangerous. It is the home language of 95 per cent of the coloured population and is used by Indians as well, especially in the country dorps of the Transvaal. It is also widely spoken by the African youth in the urban areas. Even if only Afrikaners spoke the language it will still be unwise to abolish it. Language is the highest manifestation of social unity in the history of mankind and it is the inherent right of each group of people to use its language without restriction. Not only would its abolition be out of step with progressive developments in the enlightened world, but it would also be inviting endless strife. The question of minority rights has been of major concern to progressive forces throughout history and has often led to sudden and violent strife from the aggrieved community. Today South Africa has almost three million Afrikaners who will no longer be oppressors after liberation but a powerful minority of ordinary citizens whose co-operation and goodwill are needed in the reconstruction of the country.

This approach, which Mandela strenuously insists is that of the ANC and not his, is what saved South Africa from civil war. It is an approach that would serve Israel and Palestine well in their search for peace and justice today. It is an ethos of avoiding the accumulated bitterness that has scarred the Balkans and delayed the resolution of the troubles of Northern Ireland. It is a powerful reminder of the folly of the US/UK-led war on Iraq, given the humiliation of the Iraqi people and the passionate identification of the entire Muslim and Arab world now with a severe feeling of insult: if in the conduct of war and struggle you humiliate your adversary, reconciliation and the achievement of democracy after the struggle is over become difficult, even impossible, certainly delayed. Mandela's profound wisdom of anticipating, premeditating perhaps, future outcomes as a guide for how you conduct your struggles and political conduct day-to-day, today, is the most telling legacy he leaves from his leadership.

And there is yet something more: the way in which South Africans negotiated their way out of the miserable corner of apartheid, the manner in which full equality of black and white was achieved by way of negotiating forums like the Conference for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa), can be found in writings penned during Rivonia. Mandela explained that the ANC turned to sabotage only after it had exhausted all legal and peaceful channels. In this the answer was always force and violence:

It must not be forgotten that by this time violence had, in fact, become a feature of the South African political scene. There had been violence in 1957 when the women of Zeerust were ordered to carry passes; there was violence in 1958 with the enforcement of cattle culling in Sekhukhuniland; there was violence in 1959 when the people of Cato Manor protested against pass raids; there was violence in 1960 when the government attempted to impose Bantu Authorities in Pondoland. Thirty-nine Africans died in these disturbances. In 1961 there had been riots in Warmbaths, and all this time the Transkei had been a seething mass of unrest.

And, of course, there was Sharpeville, which resulted in the declaration of a state of emergency and banning of the ANC, the Pan Africanist Congress, the South African Communist Party and other organisations.


Excerpted from In His Own Words by Nelson Mandela Copyright © 2003 by Nelson Mandela Foundation. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Nelson Mandela : a life
Prometheus unbound
1 Struggle 1
A spirit of liberation 3
Full democratic rights 11
No easy walk to freedom 15
Posterity will prove that I was innocent 18
I am prepared to die 27
We shall crush apartheid 43
I will return 46
2 Freedom 49
Freedom in our lifetime 51
Release from prison 59
Election as president 63
Before inauguration as president 65
Inauguration as president 68
Freedom Day 1995 71
Freedom Day 1996 75
Freedom Day 1997 80
Freedom Day 1998 84
Freedom Day 1999 88
3 Reconciliation 93
Negotiating reconciliation 95
A new era of hope 101
Negotiations 104
Negotiations and armed struggle 106
Codesa 108
ANC and the National Party 114
ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party 116
Patriotic front 120
Transition 124
Multi-party negotiations 128
Commissioning the TRC 130
Receiving the report of the TRC 133
Reconciliation day 137
4 Nation building 139
Integrity and integration 141
South Africans, Africans, and citizens of the world 148
Serious work 152
Healing and building 155
New patriotism 159
Building together 163
Building the country of our dreams 167
The long walk continues 172
5 Development 177
Rising together 179
Masakhane 186
Joining hands 188
Turning the tide of poverty 192
Social development 195
Homes for the homeless 198
The world in Soweto 201
Rural anti-poverty programme 203
A road for development 207
Business 209
Labour 212
Business and labour 217
Conservation 220
Oceans 222
Planet and humanity 225
6 Education 229
Opening the doors of learning 231
Education crisis 237
Spirit of 16 June 239
Youth Day 242
Joint education trust 244
Presidential school project 246
National campaign for learning and teaching 248
Education awards 251
The rock of our future 253
Leaders of tomorrow 255
Universities 257
Fort Hare 260
University transformation 263
African and Afrikaans 266
Education for a winning nation 270
Custodians of tradition, agents of renewal 272
7 Culture 275
Homecoming 277
Arts of understanding 282
The efficacy of culture 288
Our music, dance, and poetry 291
One city, many cultures 293
The heritage of Robben Island 295
The 1820 settlers monument 299
Sporting excellence 301
Africa's champions 304
Free press 306
8 Religion 311
Religious freedom 313
Religious diversity 319
Religious heritage 323
Methodist Christians 325
Ethiopian Christians 329
Zionist Christians 331
Muslim peace 336
Muslim renewal 337
Hindu light 340
Mahatma Gandhi 344
Jewish tradition and justice 347
World religions 354
9 Health 361
Health for all 363
Health and human rights 372
Public health 375
Community health 376
A clinic for nobody 379
For the health of all 382
Kick polio out of Africa 384
The gift of hearing 386
AIDS: for whom the bell tolls 388
AIDS: a task for us all 392
AIDS: shared rights, shared responsibilities 394
AIDS: a new struggle 396
AIDS: breaking the silence 399
AIDS: from rhetoric to action 402
AIDS: confronting the crisis 406
10 Children 409
Tangible care 411
A fabric of care 416
International Children's Day 419
A society's soul 421
The quest for a better future 424
A new alliance 426
Consensus for children 428
SOS Children's Village 431
Programme of action for children 433
Global partnership for children 436
11 Heroes 441
A self-effacing hero 443
Steve Biko 451
Ruth First 455
Bram Fischer 458
Chris Hani (1) 469
Chris Hani (2) 471
Helen Joseph 473
Trevor Huddleston 477
Walter Sisulu 480
Joe Slovo 483
Oliver Tambo 489
Desmond Tutu 493
12 Peace 497
Promoting peace and practising diplomacy 499
Nobel Peace Prize 507
United Nations 1993 511
United Nations 1994 517
United Nations 1995 524
United Nations 1998 526
African unity 533
African peace 539
Solidarity of peace-loving nations 543
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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer


    This is a compilation of Nelson Mandela¿s speeches divided into twelve categories that run a diverse classification. The topics run the gamut of historical: ¿Struggle¿ ¿Freedom¿, ¿Reconciliation¿, ¿Nation Building¿ and ¿Development¿; social: ¿Education¿, ¿Culture¿, ¿Religion¿, ¿Health¿ and ¿Children¿; Cross sectional: ¿Heroes¿ and ¿Peace¿. The collection provides a one source to obtain the works of a key twentieth century person, but like any of these IN HIS OWN WORDS is repetitive and at times boring. Unless needed for a school assignment, this biographical oratory is best savored over several weeks as Mr. Mandela through his words show why he remains an inspirational influential individual whose speeches provide a deep insight into the man, the legend, and an era of transition.--- Harriet Klausner

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