Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #282) - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
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Title: Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #282)
Transcript: Ngoyi and this was effected by a second partition separating the two from each other. Thirdly, the consultation would be in the sight and hearing of warders. Under these conditions we sat down and hammered out our line of action, examined the indictment, took down statements, cross examined Helen and had a full dress discussion of policy and practical issues.
But life has its own drama and amusing episodes even behind the grimm walls of a South African prison. Right at the outset of our consultations I got a rebuff from our first witness. As is the custom when taking a statement from a witness I wrote down the name "Helen Joseph" and then asked her for her age. This pleasant lady stiffened and looked straight into my eyes: "What has my age to do with this case?" she asked sharply. I explained as carefully as I could but all I was able to extract from her that evening was the promise that she would consider the matter.
Bridges of contact between human beings are essential and, once established, they can completely shatter racial barriers and even lead to lasting friendship. A white Afrikaans speaking wardress used to bring down Helen Joseph from the Central Prison for consultation and she would sit next to Helen listening to the discussions. One day Helen, thinking that the wardress was bored and feeling sorry for her, suggested that she could always bring a book which would keep her occupied during the lengthy consultations. She promptly replied: "No, I won't. I find all this interesting and want to listen". A bit stiff and cold at first in the presence of black male prisoners she gradually relaxed and even exchanged friendly remarks with us.
Extent and Medium: 1 page