He once gave a sermon [about] a man whose house was hunted by evil spirits. He did everything to drive them out, but he failed. Then he decided to leave his kraal [ a rural settlement of huts and houses], packed all his things on a wagon and started driving away to settle elsewhere. Along the way, he met a friend and the friend asked, ‘Where are you going?’ Before he answered, a voice came out of the wagon, ‘We are trekking, we are leaving out kraal.’ It was one of the evil spirits. He thought he was leaving them behind; he actually came along with them. And he says, the moral was ‘Don’t run away from your problems; face them! Because if you don’t deal with them, they will always be with you. Deal with a problem which arises; face it courageously.‘ That was the moral. ….. I never forgot that, you see, and I accepted that if you have a problem, you must face it and not gloss over it. For example, you know, in politics there are very sensitive issues and people normally don’t want an unpopular approach. if people say ‘We must go on action’, very few people will say ‘Have we got the resources? Have we made sufficient preparations? Are we in a potision to undertake this action?’ Some people like to give an impression of being militant and therefore not to face the problems, especially if they are the type of problems which are going to make you unpopular. Success in politics demands that you must take your people into confidence about your views and state them very clearly, very politely, very calmly, but nevertheless state them openly.
— [ Chapter 2: Cohort]
Although I obtained a pass in this subject in the matriculation examinations, and in spite of the fact I passed a special course in the same subject at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1955, I have forgotten practically everything about it. If I am compelled to attempt the course, I will have to start right from the beginning. At the age of 69 years this will be a very difficult undertaking indeed.
— [ Chapter 2: Cohort]
In the early 40s what struck me forcefully was the conflict between my expectations and actual experience. At college I have come to believe that as a graduate I would automatically be at the head, leading my people in all their efforts. In a sense that was true of the majority of Fort Hare students. many of them left the lecture room straight to some cosy job, with a steady income and carrying a measure of influence, It is also true that graduates do enjoy the respect of the community especially in the field of education.
But my experience was quite different. I moved in circles where common sense and practical experience were important, and where high academic qualifications were not necessarily decisive. Hardly anything I had been taught at College seemed directly relevant in my new environment. The average teacher had fought shy of topics like racial oppression, lack of opportunity for the black man and the numerous indignities to which he is subjected in his daily life. — [ Chapter 2, Cohort]
In Alexandra, life was exciting and, although the racial policies of the present government have destroyed it’s social fabric and reduced it to a ghost town, thinking of it always evokes in me fond memories. Here I learnt to adjust myself to urban life and came into physical contact with all the evils of white supremacy. Although the township had some beautiful buildings, it was a typical slum area – overcrowded and dirty, with undernourished children running about naked or in filthy rags. It teamed with all kinds of religious sects, gangsters and shebeens. Life was cheap and the gun and the knife ruled at night. Very often the police would raid for passes, poll tax and liquor and arrest large numbers. In spite of this, Alexandra was more than a home for its fifty thousand residents. As one of the few areas of the country where Africans could acquire freehold property, and run their own affairs free from the tyranny of municipal regulations,.. [Chapter 3: wings to the spirit]
Well, I had been in prison before that, but for minor violations and where I was detained for about a day, not even a full day. I was detained in the morning and released in the afternoon.. I was arrested there, not because I have defied, but because I had gone and urinated in a, what you call, whites’ toilet room, for whites only. Well we can say I went to wash my hands in a white lavatory and then they arrested me…. It was a mistake on my part; I didn’t read the sign. So then they arrested me, took me to a police station. But at the end of the day they released me. …. [Chapter 3: wings to the spirit]
I have always tried to bring people together, you know? … But I don’t always succeed.,…. [Chapter 3: wings to the spirit]