Transcript: Nelson Mandela

The Amazing Nelson Mandela Life Story

Pre-intermediate (A2-B1)
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✅Key Vocabulary:

Hut (Noun) - Synonyms: Cabin, Shack (Choza / Хижина / كوخ / Cabane / Kulübe / Lều)

Clay (Noun) - Synonyms: Sediment, Earth (Arcilla / Глина / طين / Argile / Kil / Đất sét)

Stream (Noun) - Synonyms: Brook, Creek (Arroyo / Ручей / جدول / Ruisseau / Dere / Suối)

Tribe (Noun) - Synonyms: Clan, Kinship group (Tribu / Племя / قبيلة / Tribu / Kabile / Bộ lạc)

Elder (Noun) - Synonyms: Senior, Respected older person (Anciano / Старейшина / شيخ / Aîné / Yaşlı / Người cao tuổi)

Track and Field (Noun) - Synonyms: Athletics, Sports (Atletismo / Легкая атлетика / ألعاب القوى / Athlétisme / Atletizm / Điền kinh)

Expel (Verb) - Synonyms: Banish, Dismiss (Expulsar / Изгонять / طرد / Expulser / Kovmak / Đuổi)

Protest (Verb, Noun) - Synonyms: Demonstrate, Rally (Protestar / Протестовать / احتجاج / Protester / Protesto etmek / Biểu tình)

Boycott (Verb, Noun) - Synonyms: Shun, Avoid (Boicotear / Бойкотировать / مقاطعة / Boycotter / Boykot etmek / Tẩy chay)

Strike (Noun) - Synonyms: Walkout, Industrial action (Huelga / Забастовка / إضراب / Grève / Grev / Cuộc đình công)

Found (Verb) - Synonyms: Establish, Create (Fundar / Основывать / تأسيس / Fonder / Kurmak / Thành lập)

Arrest (Verb, Noun) - Synonyms: Detain, Capture (Arrestar / Арестовать / اعتقال / Arrêter / Tutuklamak / Bắt giữ)

Treason (Noun) - Synonyms: Betrayal, Sedition (Traición / Измена / خيانة / Trahison / İhanet / Phản quốc)

Sabotage (Noun) - Synonyms: Undermining, Deliberate damage (Sabotaje / Саботаж / تخريب / Sabotage / Sabotaj / Phá hoại)


Hello learners, and welcome to another episode of Simple English Listening.

Today, I’ll tell you about the life story of a very famous leader, politician, social and human rights activist - Nelson Mandela!

New vocabulary in this episode are the words: hut, expel, strike, boycott, arrest, found, and protest.

Remember you can now listen to Simple English Listening as a podcast on Spotify, Itunes, Google Podcasts, and all other major podcast apps. But, if you want the subtitles (the text), then please watch the Youtube video.

I chose today’s topic because it’s interesting and inspiring to hear how some people have been able to create great change, and by learning about the life of Nelson Mandela, we can also learn about the history of South Africa in the late 20th and 21st centuries. And also, we can see the changing opinion, globally (worldwide), of what’s acceptable and what's not acceptable. What's fair, and what's not fair in a modern society.

Some of the language might be a little bit difficult in today’s episode but the more times you listen, the more you’ll be able to understand.

Nelson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa. He was the president between 1994 and 99. He became the president after spending 27 years in prison (in jail), with no freedom. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and after his life in politics he started many organizations, groups, charities - trying to create positive change in society, around the world.

So, where did it all start? Mandela was born in a tiny village called Mvezo in 1918. Maybe my pronunciation is not correct there. 'Mvezo', I think it's that.

Where he grew up there were no roads, only footpaths (paths for walking). The family lived in a small hut. A ‘hut’ isn't just 'Pizzahut'. A hut means a small very basic house. A hut usually only has one room and it's made of simple materials. Materials such as wood, clay, and mud. They lived simply. Water came from small rivers and streams. All cooking and washing was done outdoors (outside the hut).

Mandela was the first in his family to go to school. His teacher gave him the name ‘Nelson’. It was normal back then to give African children British names, in the British-influenced school system.

When Mandela was nine years old, his father died from a lung disease. Lungs are the organs you use to breathe in and out. Your lungs. You have one part of them in each side of your chest - your lungs.

The chief, the leader of his tribe was an old friend of his father’s. So, after the father's death, the chief looked after Mandela and took him as his own son. He adopted him.

It was during this time period, when Nelson became interested in African history. He would listen to elder tribe chiefs who came to the palace on official business. These elders would tell Mandela stories of how the African people had mostly lived in peace, until the coming of Europeans. He was told that the people of South Africa used to stand as brothers, until the Europeans broke that brotherhood. The elders told him that the people of South Africa would share their food, their land, and their water, but instead, the Europeans would take these things for themselves. These were the ideas Mandela was introduced to as a young boy.

In college and university, he was excellent at sports: at track and field, and at boxing. He attended the 'Harvard University' of Sub-Sahara Africa (the southern half of Africa). The University of Fort Hare. His peers, meaning, his classmates were the brightest students of the region but unfortunately, Mandela was expelled from the university for being in a student protest. Okay, new word - ‘expel', means he was kicked out of school and was not allowed to continue attending lessons.

Another new word – 'protest'. A protest, is when a large group of people get together and disagree, or object with something. Often in protests, people hold signs, they shout, they sing songs and do speeches. For example, right now there are protests happening in Hong Kong, right? People are getting together on the streets in large numbers and together they are disagreeing and objecting, holding signs and doing speeches.

Okay so, back to our story: Mandela, was expelled for being in a protest at university. This was a stressful time for him, a difficult time. And on top of that, his adoptive father found a wife for him! Arranged for him to be married so, Nelson ran away!

He ran away from home. He moved to the capital city, Johannesburg.
He worked in many different jobs such as being a guard, an office clerk, all while completing his BA Bachelors degree by post. 'Post' is writing, sending, and receiving letters. By post. After his BA degree, he studied law full-time at the University of Witwatersrand (said as 'Witz').

One term we must first learn before we continue this story is ‘apartheid'.
Apartheid describes a collection of laws in South Africa. These laws started in 1948 and ended in the early 1990s. These laws were created by the white-only government. Apartheid laws made it so white and non-white peoples of South Africa lived separately. In fact, the word 'apartheid' in Afrikaans (the Afrikaans language) means ‘to be apart’.

These laws meant that black South Africans: could not work in government, could not attend many universities, could not vote, could not get full citizenship, could not share white facilities, interracial marriage was banned (prohibited). Black South Africans had to wear special identification (I.D) if they wanted to go travel through many areas of South Africa. For example, for most parts of Johannesburg, you would need an I.D to travel through if you were a black South African.

After completing his bachelor's degree by post, Mandela joined the anti-apartheid political party in 1942. It was called, the African National Congress (A.N.C). To summarize this part of his life, he directed and led nonviolent acts against the white-only South African government and its apartheid laws.

Acts Mandela directed (that he led) include boycotting. 'Boycotting' is when groups of people refuse to buy things. When they decide to stop buying things to hurt or to punish the economy or a company - to boycott. An example, recently in Korea people boycotted Japanese products. Many Koreans stopped buying Japanese clothes and beer to hurt or to punish the Japanese economy - they boycotted Japanese products. Mandela led strikes and other acts of non-cooperation. A 'strike' is when groups of people refuse to go to work (they decide to not work) - a strike.

Around this time in 1952, Mandela and his university friend and fellow A.N.C party member, founded the first black law practice. New word - 'founded' - a verb, meaning to start a new company or organization. (For example, Bill Gates founded Microsoft). Nelson Mandela founded the first black law firm. It was called 'Mandela and Tambo' and they gave free and low-cost legal advice (help) for ordinary, non-represented black South Africans. Most of Mandela and Tambo's work challenged the apartheid laws.

Originally (at the beginning), Mandela believed in nonviolent, peaceful protests. However, his beliefs changed after police shot and killed 69 peaceful black protesters.

Around this time, Mandela started to believe that armed struggle was the only way to end the apartheid laws. 'Armed' struggle can mean using military action, using weapons, using violence.

Mandela co-founded, so he co-started a military organization called ‘Spear of the Nation’. It was an organization that wanted to use armed struggle and guerrilla war to try and finally end apartheid laws.

In 1961, Mandela led a three-day national workers strike. A 'strike' is when people do not go to work and instead they usually protest, holding up signs, meeting in large groups, and giving speeches. Mandela was arrested (was taken by the police) and probably handcuffed. He was taken to the police station (arrested) for leading this workers strike and other crimes.

His other crimes were leaving the country when he was not allowed to leave the country. Also, they said that Mandela and his group were planning treason. 'Treason' meaning, to overthrow or to change or destroy the government and sabotage.

Nelson Mandela and other leaders of his political party, the African National Congress - they were sent to prison (to jail) for a life sentence. Some people in South Africa actually, they refer to Nelson Mandela as a terrorist! Not everybody likes Nelson Mandela, actually.

So for 8 months Mandela’s group were in the courts. Before going to prison, Mandela made a speech finishing with these words: ‘'I have loved the idea of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. It is something I hope to live for and to achieve. But if it needs be, it is something I am also prepared to die for'’. Mandela then spent 27 years in prison - 27 years....

We will continue this story in the next episode!

Let’s quickly review some vocabulary!

We have – 'hut', 'expel', 'protest', 'boycott', to 'found', 'strike' and 'arrest'.

Tell me, which is a noun which means a simple house, made of simple materials? Such as wood and clay. A hut - H U T.

OK, which verb means to be kicked out of school, so you cannot continue attending your lessons? Expel – E X P E L. If you remember, Mandela was expelled from his school for being in a protest.

OK, which noun is for, if a group of people refuse, who decide to not go to work? A strike. A strike – S T R I K E. Noun. For example: the trains are not running today, the workers are on strike. They are not paying us enough money, let's go on strike.

What is a verb you can use to describe starting a company or starting an organization? Found. Found – F O U N D. Example, Ray Kroc founded McDonald's in 1955. Apple was co-founded by Steve Jobs in 1976. You can say 'co-founded' for when more than one person founds a company.

What’s the verb and noun, meaning to get together with a group of people and publicly disagree or object to something, usually holding up signs, doing speeches. Protest. Protest – P R O T E S T.

What is the verb and noun, for when people as a group, refuse, decide to stop buying things to hurt the economy or a company, Boycott. Boycott - B O Y C O T T.

What is the verb for when the police take you, they put you in handcuffs normally and take you to the police station? Arrest. Arrest - A R R E S T

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If you made it this far, well done!
Here is the link for part 2, with subtitles.
▶️ Youtube Link For Part 2