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The fundamental conflict in Mandela's autobiography is one that pits him against the policies of apartheid. This conflict takes on many forms. Mandela reflects on a childhood whereby racial inequality compelled him to understand and grasp the ideas of the African National Congress. As a politically active individual, the conflict that Mandela faced is how to advocate non- violence in the face of growing violence employed by the government. Mandela spends time in his narrative exploring how his position of non- violence and active resistance became fundamentally altered after actions such as the massacre at Sharpeville as well as state imposed "Emergencies," which served as nothing more than pretense for increased governmental repression. Finally, Mandela speaks of how the basic conflict in his life is against a system where there can be no justice if there is racial division and separation of the races. In this, Mandela understood his role as a symbol of the freedom movement while incarcerated and his release represented his efforts to try to bridge differences between the White establishment and the growing Black majority who sought to have an active role in political, economic, and social affairs. In this last conflict, Mandela's commitment to a transcendent concept of equality and inclusion in a mutable world of contingency is most evident.
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