The Oath

Nelson Mandela remembers the tenth of May when the sun shone brightly. A few days before he was declared the president, he was surrounded by many world leaders and prominent personalities, who came to congratulate him on becoming the president of South Africa. According to Nelson Mandela, this was the largest ever gathering of international leaders on African soil and the triumph of good over evil.

The oath-taking ceremonies took place at Pretoria as Mandela remembers how this seat belonged to white powers in the past. But now, he describes it as a rainbow.

Mr Mandela now remembers that day of oath-taking ceremony when he was accompanied to the stage by his daughter Zenani. He also remembers the name of other leaders sworn before him. Mr de Klerk, Thabo Mbeki as second and first deputy president respectively.

Since it was his turn, he pledged before the people of South Africa his allegiance. In his speech, he describes the apartheid as a disaster that lasted too long. He also assures the people that no such thing shall ever be allowed on South African soil and ends his speech with, “Let freedom reign, God bless Africa!”

He describes the scene of military jets roaring in the sky in unison and the salute of army generals as their undying allegiance to the newly elected democratic government of the nation. As Nelson Mandela describes, this military drill was followed by the singing of national anthem by both black and white people.

The Haunting Past

He also remembers some historic event related to the Anglo-Boer war. This war was fought between South African and the British Armies. South African army suffered defeat in this battle, and according to Nelson Mandela, this started one of the most inhumane societies the world has ever known. That system of biases and racial discrimination has now been replaced by equality of all before the law irrespective of their colour.

Nelson Mandela now remembers the martyrs, who lost their lives while fighting for their rights. Although that cruel system has now ended, Mr Mandela is saddened deeply not to be able to thank those martyrs for the sacrifice they made to their nation. He considered himself to be the sum of all those patriots as he had in himself the penchant for freedom that all the freedom fighters before him had.

Mr Mandela thinks that the policy of apartheid has created wounds that would take decades to heal but on the other hand it has also produced people of unmatched intelligence, wisdom, courage and generosity.

Some particular names that he remembers are Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Chief Luthuli, Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer and Robert Sobukwe. According to Mr Mandela, something so deep and oppressing like the apartheid could create such intelligent people like the pressure that creates diamond. He describes the people of South Africa as its true wealth that is finer then purest diamonds. 

It is from these people that Mandela learns the true meaning of courage. According to him, courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.

Nelson Mandela beautifully describes human nature as more inclined to love rather than hate. He tells us that while he was in prison along with his friends, he would get harshest of treatment and still he would see a spark of kindness in the jailor’s eyes and that was his only motivation to keep going. According to him, man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.

The Dawn of a Bright Future

Mr Mandela tells us of two obligations that every man has, an obligation to his family, parents, wife and children and obligation to his people.

According to Mandela, in just an humane society, there is no restriction on these obligations but a racist and cruel society won’t let every man fulfil these two obligations. He describes himself as born free. Free to enjoy everything he wants in his life like running through is fields, swimming in the stream, roasting mealies under the stars and so on.

Nelson Mandela defines freedom from a boy’s point of view as well as a young man’s point of view. His thoughts of being free to roam everywhere were illusions according to him because when he grew up into a young man he found that his freedom has been snatched by white supremacist powers and not only his but the freedom of his fellow black people has also been snatched. This forced him to join the African National Congress.

It was his desire for freedom that transformed him into a different person. It reshaped his mindset. 

According to Nelson Mandela, when he got freedom from the oppressor, both were liberated in the sense that if the black people were liberated from cruel forces, the cruel people were also liberated of the feeling of hatred toward other people. As a cruel person according to him is the prisoner of hatred.