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Discussion Questions for Long Walk to Freedom

Our staff readers have prepared this list of discussion questions for those reading Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela.  Next week, we will be introducing staff reading the book and they will begin posting their own thoughts on these questions…and we hope you will join the conversation!

Discussion Questions for Long Walk to Freedom

1. (This will be a discussion about a letter written to PTPI by Mandela’s daughter.)

2. When Mandela was stating how he got to where he is he said, “I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulations of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments, produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, from henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.”  Do you think that all people eventually end up doing what they were meant to do? Or do you think we create what we think we are meant to do?

3. Throughout the book, Mandela reflected on the sacrifices made by members of his family. He missed them terribly and struggled with the fact that he couldn’t be with them. When she was 15, Zindziswa visited her father on Robben Island. He had not seen his daughter since she was three. He wrote “She was a daughter who knew her father from old photographs rather than memory. I put on a fresh shirt that morning, and took more trouble than usual with my appearance: it is my own vanity, but I did not want to look like an old man for my youngest daughter…I am sure it was not easy for her finally to see a father she had never really known…who seemed to belong not to her but to the people.” What are your thoughts about the sacrifices made by Mandela and by members of his family?

4 . (This will be a discussion about the song Ordinary Love, written and recorded by the band U2 for the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.)

5. “Though I was leaving a world where I experienced freedom for the first time and returning to one where I was a fugitive, I was profoundly relieved to be back in the land of my birth and destiny.” Do you think that Mandela grew into his role as a leader or was it truly his destiny?

6. During Mandela’s struggles there are always people singing and chanting to support him and the African National Congress (ANC). The music lifted his and his colleagues’ spirits and gave them the strength to persevere. How do you think he would have made it without the music of his people?

7.  (This will be a discussion about a lithograph related to Mandela that hangs on the wall of one of the staff readers.)
Lithograph (Cindy)

8. Mandela states that, “newspapers were more valuable to political prisoners than gold or diamonds, more hungered for than food or tobacco; they were the most precious contraband on Robben Island. News was the intellectual raw material of the struggle. We were not allowed any news at all, and we craved it.” Given that each society is different and new trends are parts of our lives, what do you think you would crave uncontrollably if you were to be a prisoner on Robben Island?

9. In Chapter 10, Mandela says, “There is little favorable to be said about poverty, but it was often an incubator of true friendship. Many people will appear to befriend you when you are wealthy, but precious few will do the same when you are poor.” Do you think this helped aid the creation of the ANC?
People to People International’s Global Book Club is a way to connect with your global community. Global Book Club members communicate about valuable, international topics and gain unique insight and understanding of various cultural views in relation to those topics. The opinions expressed by PTPI staff and other book club members are entirely their own and are not necessarily the views of PTPI or its Officers, Board of Directors and Board of Trustees.

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