New SAT Reading Practice Test 35: Nelson Mandela Speech

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Nelson Mandela Speech

The following passage is adapted from a pivotal 1964 speech by South Africa's Nelson Mandela, called "An Ideal for Which I Am Prepared to Die." Mandela, later elected first president of democratic South Africa, gave this speech before his trial and imprisonment for activism against apartheid, a now-obsolete system of racial segregation in South Africa.

The lack of human dignity experienced by
Africans is the direct result of the policy of white
supremacy.… Menial tasks in South Africa are
invariably performed by Africans. When anything
05has to be carried or cleaned the white man will look
around for an African to do it for him, whether the
African is employed by him or not. Because of this
sort of attitude, whites … do not look upon them
as people with families of their own; they do not
10realise that they have emotions—that they fall in
love like white people do; that they want to be with
their wives and children like white people want
to be with theirs; that they want to earn enough
money to support their families properly, to feed
15and clothe them and send them to school.…
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. I doubt whether there is a single African
20male in South Africa who has not at some stage
had a brush with the police over his pass. Hundreds
and thousands of Africans are thrown into jail each
year under pass laws. Even worse than this is the
fact that pass laws keep husband and wife apart and
25lead to the breakdown of family life.
Poverty and the breakdown of family life have
secondary effects. Children wander about the
streets of the townships because they have no
schools to go to, or no money to enable them to go
30to school, or no parents at home to see that they go
to school, because both parents (if there be two)
have to work to keep the family alive. This leads to
a breakdown in moral standards … and to growing
violence which erupts not only politically, but
Africans want to perform work which they
are capable of doing, and not work which the
government declares them to be capable of.
Africans want to be allowed to live where they
40obtain work, and not be endorsed out of an area
because they were not born there. Africans want to
be allowed to own land in places where they work,
and not to be obliged to live in rented houses which
they can never call their own. Africans want to be
45part of the general population, and not confined
to living in their own ghettoes. African men want
to have their wives and children to live with them
where they work.… Africans want to be allowed
out after eleven o'clock at night and not to be
50confined to their rooms like little children. Africans
want to be allowed to travel in their own country
and to seek work where they want to and not where
the labour bureau tells them to. Africans want a
just share in the whole of South Africa; they want
55security and a stake in society.
Above all, we want equal political rights, because
without them our disabilities will be permanent.
I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in
this country, because the majority of voters will be
60Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy.
But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the
way of the only solution which will guarantee
racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true
that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial
65domination. Political division, based on colour, is
entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will
the domination of one colour group by another.
The ANC1 has spent half a century fighting against
racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that
This then is what the ANC is fighting. Their
struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of
the African people, inspired by their own suffering
and their own experience. It is a struggle for the
75right to live.
During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to
this struggle of the African people. I have fought
against white domination, and I have fought
against black domination. I have cherished the
80ideal 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.


1ANC: African National Congress, the political organization that spearheaded the movement for equal rights in South Africa

1. What is the most likely intended purpose of this speech?

  • A. To explain the political goals of the ANC
  • B. To explain why Mandela is not guilty of the crime of which he is accused
  • C. To argue that the laws passed under apartheid are illegal
  • D. To explain to white South Africans why the apartheid system must be abolished

2. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 1-3 ("The lack of … supremacy")
  • B. Lines 36-37 ("Africans want … of doing")
  • C. Lines 68-69 ("The ANC … racialism")
  • D. Lines 76-77 ("During … African people")

3. As used in line 40, "endorsed" most nearly means

  • A. supported.
  • B. signed.
  • C. authorized.
  • D. approved.

4. It can be reasonably inferred that pass laws

  • A. led to the criminal behavior they were designed to prevent.
  • B. were fundamentally European and incompatible with African life.
  • C. led to the passage of additional apartheid laws.
  • D. were a necessary part of South Africa's transition to democracy.

5. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 19-21 ("I doubt … his pass")
  • B. Lines 21-23 ("Hundreds … pass laws")
  • C. Lines 26-27 ("Poverty … effects")
  • D. Lines 32-35 ("This leads to … but everywhere")

6. As used in line 66, "artificial" most nearly means

  • A. simulated.
  • B. not genuine.
  • C. imitative.
  • D. man-made.

7. According to Mandela's claims, what is true of democracy?

  • A. It is fundamentally incompatible with white rule.
  • B. It existed in South Africa before apartheid.
  • C. It is a goal of white South Africans.
  • D. It would lead to increased crime at all levels.

8. The statement in lines 68-70 ("The ANC … policy") is important to the overall argument in its suggestion that

  • A. black South Africans will initiate steps to curb violence without pass laws.
  • B. black South Africans will be happier once there are equal political rights.
  • C. black South Africans will not retaliate once there are equal political rights.
  • D. black South Africans will continue to endorse a separate but equal system.

9. It can be reasonably inferred that Mandela would most likely support which of the following future policies?

  • A. Reduction of domestic employment
  • B. Job training for untrained workers
  • C. Pass laws for all whites and blacks
  • D. Investment in overseas business

10. Paragraph 6 of Mandela's speech can be described as

  • A. a promise that the changes he proposes will be good for all people.
  • B. a contrast between his former beliefs and those he currently holds.
  • C. an acknowledgment that he knows there is no perfect system.
  • D. a thank-you for people's continued support in a difficult situation.