Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (1995)
GROSS: Well, I was wondering if you felt like an outside in England when you moved there.
LESSING: If you haven't been brought up in England you will always feel an outsider. Anyone. I mean, there are so many of us, people from everywhere coming back. And none of us - or we're both insiders and outsiders. But you know, about - it only occurred to me recently, before I was just over five I had moved from Kermanshah in what's now called Iran to Tehran, had traveled across the Black Sea and across the Soviet Union.
We were the first family to travel as a family across post-revolutionary Russia to Leningrad and the Baltic States to England. I was six months in England, which I remember as a horrible place, all cold and gray. Then I was on a boat, a German boat, which is interesting in itself, all around Africa to a (unintelligible), stopping at Cape Town.
Traveling up on the slow train, traveling in an ox wagon. It was the kind you now see in Midwest films with a hurricane lamp swinging back and forth, back and forth, behind 16 oxen to the farm. All this before I had got to the age of five and a half. Now, if you've had that childhood, you're never going to belong anywhere. You are free to move anywhere you like and feel happy there.
GROSS: So do you think the sense of not belonging anywhere helped to give you a sense of independence when you got older?
LESSING: Yes. I'm sure of it. Of course. Because you're not bound to the - you're always looking at any country you're in from the outside.
GROSS: And has that helped you as a writer?
LESSING: Very much. Yes.