Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #20) - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
Welcome to the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive Project. Our aim is to locate, document, digitise, and provide access to all archival materials related to Nelson Mandela. This is a work in progress. Here is a selection of materials arranged in exhibits for your enjoyment.
Title: Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #20)
Transcript: Bashee River by the whites) River in January 1934. Our otherwise naked bodies were clean shaven. Each one of us was tense and anxious, uncertain how he would react when the critical moment came. The regent, a handful of chiefs and counsellors were amongst the crowd of parents, relatives and spectators. Suddenly there was excitement and a thin elderly man shot past towards my left and squatted in front of the first boy. A few seconds thereafter I heard this boy say: "Ndiyindoda !" (I am a man.) Then Justice repeated the word followed one after the other by the three boys between us. The old man was moving fast and before I knew what was happening he was right in front of me. I looked straight into his eyes. He was deadly pale and though the day was coll his face was shining with perspiration. Without saying a word he seized and pulled the foreskin and brought down the assegai. It was a perfect cut, clean and round like a ring. Within a week the wound healed, but without anesthetic, the actual incision was as if molten lead was flowing through my veins. For seconds I forgot about the refrain and tried instead to absorb the shock of the assegai by digging my head and shoulders into a grass wall. I recovered and just managed to repeat the formula "Ndiyindoda !" The other boys seemed much stronger and repeated the chorus promptly and clearly when each one's turn came round. The mysterious elder was a famous Ingcibi (circumcision expert) from Gcalekaland. The place was Tyhalarha, the traditional place of circumcision for several Thembu kings. The occasion was the circumcision of Justice and we twenty five were merely his companions. Each one of us had now taken the essential step necessary in the life of every Xhosa man. We had reached the bridge to cross from the Utopia of childhood to the realities of manhood. Now I could marry, set up my own home and plough my own fields. I could go and work in the gold fields and be as rich as my strength and wits would allow. Above all I could now be
Extent and Medium: 1 page