Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #283) - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
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Title: Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #283)
Transcript: Even more interesting was the relationship that developed between the treason accused and the white police constable who drove the van that took us to and from court daily. Every moment spent outside the forbidding prison walls was a relief for us and the van driver contributed much to such relief for he would often take us, on his own initiative, on long un authorised drives. He developed quite a close acquaintance with us and even got to know the birthdays of some of us. One morning, after we had trooped into the van and were due to pick up our white co trialists, he drove and parked just outside the cells where the white prisoners were kept. He then informed us that it was Joe Slovo's birthday and exhorted us to welcome Joe that morning with a song. We responded readily. He seemed to enjoy our singing, which needless to say, was heavily weighted with freedom songs, and often asked us to sing as we travelled to and from court. In 1963 when Walter Sisulu was arrested and held under the 90 day detention law at Pretoria local prison, this same police constable called at the prison and visited Walter with whom he had become acquainted during the Treason Trial.
On another occasion Robert Resha and I were working in the library when a white warder, also Afrikaans speaking, joined us and started a political discussion with Robert. After listening to him explaining the policy of the ANC and the Freedom Charter the warder remarked that our policy was certainly better than that of the Nationalist Party. He also became friendly and assisted us in various ways throughout the five months of our detention.
It is mainly because of reactions such as these that the Nationalist Party is so violently opposed to
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