In Memorium

This week we mourn the passing of a man capable of forgiving the unforgivable and uniting a nation. Nelson Mandela began writing his autobiography in 1974 while imprisoned at Robben Island. Here are some lines from the final pages of Long Walk to Freedom, with scenes from that infamous place.

Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo taken by Judy Hostetler during a People to People International trip to South Africa.

Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa. Photos by Judy Hostetler during a People to People International trip to South Africa.

It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black…A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness…The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

Nelson Mandela's cell. When he stretched out on the floor he could touch both walls.

Nelson Mandela’s cell. When he stretched out on the floor he could touch both walls.

When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say this has now been achieved. But I know that that is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free, we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road.

Looking back across the bay toward Cape Town.

Looking back across the bay toward Cape Town.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others…

Shore of Robben Island

Shore of Robben Island

I have walked that long road to freedom…I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

—Nelson Mandela, in Long Walk to Freedom, 1994

And now he is at rest, with the world’s gratitude. Shine on, Mandela.

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