Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nelson Mandela’s I am Prepared to Die

What defines true love? Is it merely friendship, companionship, or simply a mother-child type of love? What is it? How do we define it or limit it? We can't. It is an over powering spell that deters you from thinking in a rational way thus driving us to do senseless things. Well that makes perfect sense. I love my family and I love my country. It is easy to say but honestly what would you do if your country was under attack by another? Having come from a country just recently under war, it was until my country fell into war that I realized how much love I actually had for it. I felt the drive to rebel and initiate change. Thus, I can relate to a man of historical significance whose undying love for his country was unimaginable.
Born and raised in Mvezo, South Africa, Nelson Mandela had a good childhood. He was well-educated and highly attracted to politics. He was involved in the African National Congress and then helped transform it into a radical mass movement. He played a role in organizing the Freedom Charter which called for democracy and human rights, land reform, labor rights, and nationalization. Having been banned, arrested on many occasions and imprisoned, Mandela took up many disguises in order to continue his work. Along with members of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) was formed with Mandela as commander in chief. It was done in preparation for a war or fight of some sort.  At first, they took action in a non-violent way. It was until he came to a realization as mentioned in his speech that deterred him from being civilized any more, "The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices-submit or fight. That time has come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defense of our people, our future, and our freedom". They went underground and bombed certain governmental areas thus being considered a terrorist group.
In 1963, their headquarters was discovered and they were brought in charged with sabotage. The trial was called "the Rivonia trial" which lasted for about 8 months. It was an opportunity for Mandela and the movement to make their beliefs public. That is when one of the most influential speeches in history was heard.
In his speech I am Prepared to Die, he mentions himself as an African Patriot attracted to the ideals of Marxism and the idea of a classless society and its systems.  "I turn now to my own position, I have denied that I am a communist, and I think that in the circumstances I am obliged to state exactly what my political beliefs are".  First and foremost, as a form of ethos, he mentions the two reasons behind the fight that of abolishing poverty and restoring human dignity to the African people.
In the form of logos, Mandela continues on the subject of poverty and disease providing factual evidence. “South Africa is the richest country in Africa and could be one of the richest countries in the world. It is a land of extremes and remarkable contrasts. The whites enjoy what may well be the highest standard of living in the world, whilst Africans live in poverty and misery. Forty per cent of the Africans live in hopelessly overcrowded and is some cases drown-sicken reserves...” He then goes on to question the educational system, police force and the job force and all of their flaws.
According to pathos, he emphasizes the neglected emotions and feelings of his people and that all they want to do is to live a life where everyone is treated with equal amount of respect. In his speech, Mandela addresses this injustice, "The lack of human dignity experienced by Africans is the direct result of white supremacy....When anything has to be carried or cleaned the white man will look around for an African to do it". In turn he talks about the poor children that wander the streets in poverty and sickness.  From his selection of words, you can tell the sadness and sympathy he feels towards his people and society as a whole.
Mandela reached a point where one goal was in his mind and fought for just that. He believes in social harmony and freedom for all. His love for his people is so strong that he questioned all of its wrongs in hopes of a drastic change. He then comes to the conclusion that this was what the African National Congress was fighting for from the very beginning. Basically a struggle to live. He closed his unforgettable speech by these immortal words:
During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. -Nelson Mandela - April 20, 1964

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