Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #21) - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
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Title: Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #21)
Transcript: admitted into the councils of the community and be able to influence policy and decisions. Among the Xhosas circumcision is the only gateway to full age and full rights of citizenship. The name Dalibhunga (founder of the Bunga) was given to me at this stage. It is more acceptable to the traditionalists than either of my two other names and they may be used freely by my contemporaries, elders and juniors. Towards the end of March we were discharged. The huts were burnt down and we washed away the white ochre in the waters of Mbashe amidst ceremonial festivities to welcome us formally to our new status. Speeches were made and presents given, a heifer here, a horse there, a goat or saddle. We all felt fresh and high, looked serious and even tried to walk differently. After all we were a new generation ready to lead Thembuland to a new era of greatness and prosperity. But the son of Dalindyebo, chief Meliqgili, dashed all our illusions and brought us back to South Africa, with earthy remarks that have been ringing through my ears for more than forty years. This is the jist of what he said then: There sit our sons, all looking young, healthy and handsome. We have circumcised them but none will ever become a man because we are a conquered people and slaves in our own country. For the rest of their lives they will cough their lungs out deep down in the bowels of the earth, because we have no land to give them where they could prosper and multiply as whites do. Among them are chiefs who will never rule because we have no power to govern; soldiers who will never feel the thrill of fighting for their own country because we have no weapons. But Qamata (God) never sleeps and will never let us down. But if, contrary to our expectations, he is dozing, then the sooner I die and meet him the better. I shall then shake him out of his sleep and tell him that the children of Ngubengcuka are dying. My immediate reaction to the chief's remark was one of utter disappointment. He seemed to be cursing
Extent and Medium: 1 page