Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #39) - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
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Title: Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #39)
Transcript: stolen maize in the veld. The College ran a farm which produced delicious mealies. I have always welcomed a bit of relaxation and fun and I belonged to a group of students that organised evening expeditions to the maize fields. We did so not so much because of hunger but in the spirit of sport and adventure. On the whole I enjoyed my stay at Fort Hare and more especially my studies. I was making fairly good progress acquiring new ideas and new attitudes. Equally important, I was being drawn into a hundred and one little battles that the black man fights in our country against colour oppression and being forced to take sides. An incident in 1940 made me sharply aware of my own limitations on questions of human dignity. A fellow student, Paul Mahabane from Bloemfontein, son of a former president of the African National Congress, spent the winter holidays with me in the Transkei. One day we were standing outside the General Post Office at Mthatha when the local magistrate asked my friend to go and buy him postage stamps and offered him money for the purpose. Mahabane promptly refused. "Do you know who I am?" asked the offended white man. "It is not necessary to know who you are. I know what you are", replied Mahabane firmly. "What do you mean?" enquired the magistrate. "You are a rogue", said Mahabane quite firmly. "You'll pay dearly for this!" threatened the official before disappearing. "Farewell", shouted Mahabane without moving. That was the last we saw of that man. With my background I was a bit uncomfortable but Mahabane's behaviour made an unforgetable impression on me. I returned to College feeling fresh and strong. At the begining of the year I had been elected to the House Committee of Wesley House and towards the end of the same year I was elected to the Student Representative Council. But although the scales were steadily falling off my eyes and old beliefs were being shattered one after another, neither war nor politics were my concern. I was concentrating on my studies and was
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