Nelson Mandela "I am Prepared to Die" (1964) 79 words

The resounding words of a man about to be silenced by decades in prison, this statement given by Mandela in his own defense traces the history of black Africans under Apartheid.
  1. incite
    provoke or stir up
    I am a convicted prisoner serving five years for leaving the country without a permit and for inciting people to go on strike at the end of May 1961.
  2. sabotage
    a deliberate act of destruction or disruption in which equipment is damaged
    I do not, however, deny that I planned sabotage.
  3. tyranny
    dominance through threat of punishment and violence
    I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by the Whites.
  4. oppression
    the state of being kept down by unjust use of force or authority: "after years of oppression they finally revolted"
    I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by the Whites.
  5. prominent
    conspicuous in position or importance
    I admit immediately that I was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto we Sizwe, and that I played a prominent role in its affairs until I was arrested in August 1962.
  6. prescribe
    issue commands or orders for
    In order to explain these matters properly, I will have to explain what Umkhonto set out to achieve; what methods it prescribed for the achievement of these objects, and why these methods were chosen.
  7. indictment
    a formal document written for a prosecuting attorney charging a person with some offense
    I deny that Umkhonto was responsible for a number of acts which clearly fell outside the policy of the organization, and which have been charged in the indictment against us.
  8. hostility
    a state of deep-seated ill-will
    Firstly, we believed that as a result of Government policy, violence by the African people had become inevitable, and that unless responsible leadership was given to canalize and control the feelings of our people, there would be outbreaks of terrorism which would produce an intensity of bitterness and hostility between the various races of this country which is not produced even by war.
  9. supremacy
    power to dominate or defeat
    Since White South Africans of European origins controlled all of the nation's wealth and power Mandela and others referred to their behavior as white supremacy.
    Secondly, we felt that without violence there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy.
  10. mode
    how something is done or how it happens
    All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the Government.
  11. recourse
    act of turning to for assistance
    We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the Government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence.
  12. curtail
    place restrictions on
    The African National Congress was formed in 1912 to defend the rights of the African people which had been seriously curtailed by the South Africa Act, and which were then being threatened by the Native Land Act.
  13. apartheid
    a social policy or racial segregation involving political and economic and legal discrimination against people who are not Whites; the former official policy in South Africa
    The change was embodied in a decision which was taken to protest against apartheid legislation by peaceful, but unlawful, demonstrations against certain laws.
  14. pursuant
    (followed by `to') in conformance to or agreement with
    Pursuant to this policy the ANC launched the Defiance Campaign, in which I was placed in charge of volunteers.
  15. colleague
    an associate that one works with
    I and nineteen colleagues were convicted for the role which we played in organizing the campaign, but our sentences were suspended mainly because the Judge found that discipline and non-violence had been stressed throughout.
  16. treason
    disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior
    In 1956, 156 leading members of the Congress Alliance, including myself, were arrested on a charge of high treason and charges under the Suppression of Communism Act.
  17. suppression
    forceful prevention; putting down by power or authority
    In 1956, 156 leading members of the Congress Alliance, including myself, were arrested on a charge of high treason and charges under the Suppression of Communism Act.
  18. acquitted
    declared not guilty of a specific offense or crime; legally blameless
    We were acquitted on all counts, which included a count that the ANC sought to set up a communist state in place of the existing regime.
  19. regime
    the organization that is the governing authority of a political unit
    A synonym for a regime is a government.
    We were acquitted on all counts, which included a count that the ANC sought to set up a communist state in place of the existing regime.
  20. allegation
    (law) a formal accusation against somebody (often in a court of law)
    This allegation has been repeated in the present case, but as I will show, the ANC is not, and never has been, a communist organization.
  21. unremitting
    uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
    We believed it was our duty to preserve this organization which had been built up with almost fifty years of unremitting toil.
  22. toil
    work hard
    We believed it was our duty to preserve this organization which had been built up with almost fifty years of unremitting toil.
  23. disband
    cause to break up or cease to function
    I have no doubt that no self-respecting White political organization would disband itself if declared illegal by a government in which it had no say.
  24. referendum
    a legislative act is referred for final approval to a popular vote by the electorate
    In 1960 the Government held a referendum which led to the establishment of the Republic.
  25. republic
    a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them
    In 1960 the Government held a referendum which led to the establishment of the Republic.
  26. apprehensive
    in fear or dread of possible evil or harm
    All of us were apprehensive of our future under the proposed White Republic, and a resolution was taken to hold an All-In African Conference to call for a National Convention, and to organize mass demonstrations on the eve of the unwanted Republic, if the Government failed to call the Convention.
  27. milestone
    a significant event in your life (or in a project)
    This was an indication that the Government had decided to rule by force alone, and this decision was a milestone on the road to Umkhonto.
  28. abject
    of the most contemptible kind
    Anything else would have been abject surrender.
  29. seething
    in constant agitation
    In 1961 there had been riots in Warmbaths, and all this time the Transkei had been a seething mass of unrest.
  30. channel
    (often plural) a means of communication or access
    It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle, and to form Umkhonto we Sizwe.
  31. manifesto
    a public declaration of intentions (as issued by a political party or government)
    In the Manifesto of Umkhonto published on 16 December 1961, which is Exhibit AD, we said:
  32. propaganda
    information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause
    Nor would this be politically correct, because it would result in members ceasing to carry out this essential activity: political propaganda and organization.
  33. guerrilla
    a member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment
    There is sabotage, there is guerrilla warfare, there is terrorism, and there is open revolution.
  34. congregate
    come together, usually for a purpose
    Had we intended to attack life we would have selected targets where people congregated and not empty buildings and power stations.
  35. isolated
    remote and separate physically or socially
    The sabotage which was committed before 16 December 1961 was the work of isolated groups and had no connection whatever with Umkhonto.
  36. commence
    set in motion, cause to start
    The Manifesto of Umkhonto was issued on the day that operations commenced.
  37. speculate
    talk over conjecturally, or review in an idle or casual way and with an element of doubt or without sufficient reason to reach a conclusion
    A great deal of enthusiasm was generated by the initial successes, and people began to speculate on how soon freedom would be obtained.
  38. friction
    a state of conflict between persons
    Already scores of Africans had died as a result of racial friction.
  39. compulsory
    required by rule
    All whites undergo compulsory military training, but no such training was given to Africans.
  40. nucleus
    a small group of indispensable persons or things
    It was in our view essential to build up a nucleus of trained men who would be able to provide the leadership which would be required if guerrilla warfare started.
  41. solicit
    make a solicitation or petition for something desired
    At this stage it was decided that I should attend the Conference of the Pan-African Freedom Movement for Central, East, and Southern Africa, which was to be held early in 1962 in Addis Ababa, and, because of our need for preparation, it was also decided that, after the conference, I would undertake a tour of the African States with a view to obtaining facilities for the training of soldiers, and that I would also solicit scholarships for the higher education of matriculated Africans.
  42. matriculate
    enroll as a student
    At this stage it was decided that I should attend the Conference of the Pan-African Freedom Movement for Central, East, and Southern Africa, which was to be held early in 1962 in Addis Ababa, and, because of our need for preparation, it was also decided that, after the conference, I would undertake a tour of the African States with a view to obtaining facilities for the training of soldiers, and that I would also solicit scholarships for the higher education of matriculated Africans.
  43. provocation
    unfriendly behavior that causes anger or resentment
    I do not know what justification there was for these acts, nor what provocation had been given.
  44. abolish
    do away with
    But though this may have blurred the distinction between Umkhonto and the ANC, it by no means abolished that distinction.
  45. creed
    any system of principles or beliefs
    The ideological creed of the ANC is, and always has been, the creed of African Nationalism.
  46. monopoly
    exclusive control or possession of something
    It calls for redistribution, but not nationalization, of land; it provides for nationalization of mines, banks, and monopoly industry, because big monopolies are owned by one race only, and without such nationalization racial domination would be perpetuated despite the spread of political power.
  47. perpetuate
    cause to continue or prevail
    It calls for redistribution, but not nationalization, of land; it provides for nationalization of mines, banks, and monopoly industry, because big monopolies are owned by one race only, and without such nationalization racial domination would be perpetuated despite the spread of political power.
  48. hollow
    devoid of significance or point
    It would be a hollow gesture to repeal the Gold Law prohibitions against Africans when all gold mines are owned by European companies.
  49. repeal
    cancel officially
    It would be a hollow gesture to repeal the Gold Law prohibitions against Africans when all gold mines are owned by European companies.
  50. prosperous
    marked by peace and prosperity
    The realization of the Freedom Charter would open up fresh fields for a prosperous African population of all classes, including the middle class.
  51. provincial
    of or associated with a province
    African communists could, and did, become members of the ANC, and some served on the National, Provincial, and local committees.
  52. league
    an association of states or organizations or individuals for common action
    At that stage I was a member of the African National Congress Youth League, and was one of a group which moved for the expulsion of communists from the ANC.
  53. expulsion
    the act of forcing out someone or something
    At that stage I was a member of the African National Congress Youth League, and was one of a group which moved for the expulsion of communists from the ANC.
  54. inception
    an event that is a beginning; a first part or stage of subsequent events
    They defended the policy on the ground that from its inception the ANC was formed and built up, not as a political party with one school of political thought, but as a Parliament of the African people, accommodating people of various political convictions, all united by the common goal of national liberation.
  55. parliament
    a legislative assembly in certain countries
    They defended the policy on the ground that from its inception the ANC was formed and built up, not as a political party with one school of political thought, but as a Parliament of the African people, accommodating people of various political convictions, all united by the common goal of national liberation.
  56. ingrained
    (used especially of ideas or principles) deeply rooted; firmly fixed or held
    It is perhaps difficult for white South Africans, with an ingrained prejudice against communism, to understand why experienced African politicians so readily accept communists as their friends.
  57. prejudice
    a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation
    It is perhaps difficult for white South Africans, with an ingrained prejudice against communism, to understand why experienced African politicians so readily accept communists as their friends.
  58. theoretical
    concerned with theories rather than their practical applications
    Theoretical differences amongst those fighting against oppression is a luxury we cannot afford at this stage.
  59. exponent
    a person who pleads for a cause or propounds an idea
    They are supported in this belief by a legislature which brands all exponents of democratic government and African freedom as communists and bans many of them (who are not communists) under the Suppression of Communism Act.
  60. pernicious
    exceedingly harmful
    Although I have never been a member of the Communist Party, I myself have been named under that pernicious Act because of the role I played in the Defiance Campaign.
  61. plight
    a situation from which extrication is difficult especially an unpleasant or trying one
    In the United Nations and other Councils of the world the communist bloc has supported the Afro-Asian struggle against colonialism and often seems to be more sympathetic to our plight than some of the Western powers.
  62. brash
    offensively bold
    In these circumstances, it would take a brash young politician, such as I was in 1949, to proclaim that the Communists are our enemies.
  63. paramount
    having superior power and influence
    My guardian was my cousin, who was the acting paramount chief of Tembuland, and I am related both to the present paramount chief of Tembuland, Sabata Dalindyebo, and to Kaizer Matanzima, the Chief Minister of the Transkei.
  64. socialism
    an economic system based on state ownership of capital
    We all accept the need for some form of socialism to enable our people to catch up with the advanced countries of this world and to overcome their legacy of extreme poverty.
  65. legacy
    (law) a gift of personal property by will
    heritage or reminder from the past are synonyms for legacy.
    We all accept the need for some form of socialism to enable our people to catch up with the advanced countries of this world and to overcome their legacy of extreme poverty.
  66. ostensibly
    from appearances alone
    As I understand the State case, and in particular the evidence of 'Mr. X,' the suggestion is that Umkhonto was the inspiration of the Communist Party which sought by playing upon imaginary grievances to enroll the African people into an army which ostensibly was to fight for African freedom, but in reality was fighting for a communist state.
  67. preposterous
    incongruous;inviting ridicule
    In fact the suggestion is preposterous.
  68. impoverished
    poor enough to need help from others
    Yet most Africans, even in this group, are impoverished by low incomes and high cost of living.
  69. datum
    an item of factual information derived from measurement or research
    The poverty datum line for the average African family in Johannesburg (according to Mr. Carr's department) is R42.84 per month.
  70. malnutrition
    a state of poor nutrition; can result from insufficient or excessive or unbalanced diet or from inability to absorb foods
    Poverty goes hand in hand with malnutrition and disease.
  71. scurvy
    a condition caused by deficiency of ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
    Tuberculosis, pellagra, kwashiorkor, gastro-enteritis, and scurvy bring death and destruction of health.
  72. mortality
    the ratio of deaths in an area to the population of that area; expressed per 1000 per year
    The incidence of infant mortality is one of the highest in the world.
  73. menial
    used of unskilled work (especially domestic work)
    Menial tasks in South Africa are invariably performed by Africans.
  74. render
    cause to become
    Pass laws, which to the Africans are among the most hated bits of legislation in South Africa, render any African liable to police surveillance at any time.
  75. surveillance
    close observation of a person or group (usually by the police)
    Pass laws, which to the Africans are among the most hated bits of legislation in South Africa, render any African liable to police surveillance at any time.
  76. imposed
    set forth authoritatively as obligatory
    Housebreakings and robberies are increasing, despite the fact that the death sentence can now be imposed for such offences.
  77. fester
    ripen and generate pus
    Death sentences cannot cure the festering sore.
  78. ghetto
    a poor densely populated city district occupied by a minority ethnic group linked together by economic hardship and social restrictions
    Africans want to be part of the general population, and not confined to living in their own ghettoes.
  79. hostel
    a hotel providing overnight lodging for travelers
    African men want to have their wives and children to live with them where they work, and not be forced into an unnatural existence in men's hostels.